The Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB) is a Belgian federal scientific research institute which has celebrated its 50th anniversary on November 25, 2014.
Its main tasks are scientific research and public service in space aeronomy.
What is aeronomy?
The word “Aeronomy” became official in 1954 when the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) adopted it. It has been defined as the science dealing with atmospheric regions where photodissociation and ionization processes under the influence of the solar or stellar radiation play a role. By definition, aeronomy is a multidisciplinary science studying the terrestrial and planetary and cometary atmospheres and even the interplanetary space. It is based on observations, field and laboratory experiments, theoretical work, and numerical modelling.
It contributes in particular to the knowledge of the atmospheric environment from the Earth surface to the Sun.
Aeronomy has grown considerably with the launch of artificial satellites during the International Geophysical Year 1957-1958, the development of new techniques for observations from space, and the developments in computer technologies (IT).
At the Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy, we focus on:
Space is our major asset. Our international collaborations are numerous and of utmost importance.
A few examples show the importance of the knowledge and understanding of all the phenomena observed in the atmospheric environment:
- the ozone hole
- the greenhouse effect
- acid rain
- transport of pollutants
- aerosols and ash due to volcanic eruptions
- the solar wind
- the magnetic storms which disturb telecommunications
- the radiation belts which can be dangerous for astronauts and damage satellite electronics
- long-term changes