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Research and public service in the physics and chemistry of the atmosphere of the Earth and other planets, and of outer space.

Last week (September 2) marked the two-year anniversary of PICASSO’s launch, the first CubeSat mission of the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy. It has demonstrated the feasibility of atmospheric remote sensing and in-situ ionospheric plasma measurement with a CubeSat and has taught us valuable lessons about this new technology.

On 22 May 2021, the Nyiragongo volcano (DR Congo) erupted. Lava flows destroyed part of the nearby city of Goma and thousands of people fled. In a study published in Nature, an international team of researchers shows that this eruption could not have been predicted.

The Principal Investigator (PI) for the NOMAD instrument onboard ESA’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter - currently orbiting and observing the planet Mars – is the group Planetary Atmospheres of BIRA-IASB. Consequently, it is up to our researchers and engineers of this group to handle, among other things, the calibration (to check how accurately the instrument is working) and the set-up and maintenance of the data pipeline (the software that converts all the incoming raw data into information that the scientists can analyse).

Researchers of the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy have no need for energy drinks in order to get airborne, they simply work together with Dr Thomas Ruhtz’s team at Freie Universität Berlin (FUB) who have an airplane at their disposal. Together with the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), each of the three institutes contribute their equipment and expertise to the ESA-funded NITROCAM campaign for the measurement of air pollution due to nitrogen compounds.

No more PASTA for Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, who will be the eighth astronaut to manipulate the Soft Matter Dynamics Container (SMD) and replace the PASTA experiment cells with those from FOAM-C.

The 15th edition of the exhibition Science & Culture at the Palace will be presented by the Belgian Science Policy (BELSPO) from July 23 until August 28. After a two-year absence, it is finally time again to discover the 10 federal scientific research and cultural institutions in the Grand Gallery of the Royal Palace itself ! Entitled "Ensuring the Future", this year's expo will showcase a work of art, an artifact, a scientific instrument or a model that symbolises the objectives of these institutions to strive for a better tomorrow. Mandatory registration !