News from the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office and Scientific Institutes


The Belgian instrument LaRa (for Lander Radioscience) has been selected for the ExoMars Platform 2018

Wed, 25 Nov 2015 00:00:00 +0100

The European Space Agency (ESA) in collaboration with the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) has chosen the set of instruments to be put on the ExoMars platform to be launched in 2018. This platform is part of the ExoMars mission that will deliver in 2019 the ESA-built rover to the Martian surface. Among the chosen instruments is the Belgian transponder LaRa (for Lander Radioscience).

12th European Space Weather Week

Sat, 21 Nov 2015 00:00:00 +0100

What is the probability a solar storm will occur? - Will the solar panels of satellites in a geostationairy orbit be damaged? - Can the sun cause radar blackouts disrupting air traffic?
Effective and reliable space weather services and space-weather-proof software and hardware are part of the solution towards a resilient society. Daily space weather bulletins are broadcasted by forecast centers worldwide. A Belgian, 2 British and an American center will present a daily live space weather update at the ESWW12.
Each year, during the European Space Weather Week (ESWW) conference, people from all over the world gather in Belgium to discuss the newest insights in space weather and try to find appropriate answers to the challenges and threats that space weather imposes. The meeting in 2014 was the eleventh edition, with more than 400 participants. Several communities - scientists, navigation based industry, space agencies, engineers, forecast centers, energy suppliers, space tourism, etc. - are involved in space weather in some way. The ESWW offers the platform to exchange knowledge and blend.

Take part in the BBC debate on Europe - 17.11.2015

Thu, 05 Nov 2015 00:00:00 +0100

How should Europe respond to the migration crisis?... Does the Euro have a future?... Can the EU meet the historic challenges the continent now faces?
As Europe faces some of the greatest crises of modern times, the BBC World Service is creating an opportunity for you to put your questions directly to the people in power. In a special event at the Royal Library of Belgium, the BBC's Jonathan Dimbleby invites you to join the debate and put questions to a panel of European politicians and thinkers.

International Hydrology Prize - Call for nominations before 31st December

Thu, 05 Nov 2015 00:00:00 +0100

The International Hydrology Prize is awarded annually by IAHS, with UNESCO and WMO, to two people who have made an outstanding contribution to hydrological science and nominations are now open.
Nominations for the Prize are made by National Committees to IAHS, National Committees to the UNESCO-IHP or National Hydrological Advisors to the WMO, and forwarded to the Secretary General of IAHS for consideration by the Nomination Committee. The Committee consists of the President and a Vice-President of IAHS and representatives of UNESCO and WMO.
Two medals are awarded under the International Hydrology Prize: the Dooge medal and the Volker medal. Both medals are intended to distinguish outstanding achievements by hydrological scientists but with a different focus. The Dooge medal is aimed at fundamental contributions to the science of hydrology, whereas the Volker medal is aimed at outstanding applications of hydrological science for the benefit of society at large.

Discovery of abundant oxygen in a comet by Rosetta

Thu, 29 Oct 2015 00:00:00 +0100

The renowned scientific journal Nature will publish a perplexing discovery on Thursday October 29th: the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft has discovered – for the first time ever – the presence of oxygen gas O2 in the atmosphere of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Moreover, oxygen turns out to be a major component, constituting up to 10% of the comet atmosphere.
Complete article: Discovery of abundant oxygen in a comet by Rosetta.

Happy BEarthday STEREO!

Mon, 26 Oct 2015 00:00:00 +0100

2015 marks the 30th anniversary of the Belgian Research Programme for Earth Observation.
A long history summarized for you in 5 minutes through this little animation.

Satellite images show us the Earth in a different way. But what can those images teach us? How can we extract the information hidden within? To address those questions, the Belgian government launched 30 years ago its first national research programme for Earth observation under the name TELSAT. A few pioneer scientists started studying how to use those images for some applications such as agriculture, forestry and urban mapping.
Today, remote sensing has become an indispensable tool for a large variety of applications in all sectors of society. Belgium has developed a vibrant remote sensing community, with an internationally acknowledged expertise in the field of satellite Earth observation. TELSAT has become STEREO (Support to the Exploitation and Research in Earth Observation) which is now in its third phase. Together, Belgian researchers and STEREO programme managers are ready to tackle the challenges of the future.
The STEREO programme is managed by the Space Research and Applications Directorate of the Belgian Science Policy office. If you want to know more about the STEREO programmes, please visit our website Belgian Earth Observation Platform and/or have a look at our STEREO II final publication.


First discovery of a magnetic field in a normal delta Scuti star

Tue, 20 Oct 2015 00:00:00 +0100

Coralie Neiner, from the Observatoire de Paris (LESIA/CNRS/UPMC/Université Paris Diderot) and Patricia Lampens, from the Royal Observatory of Belgium discovered the first magnetic delta Scuti star through spectropolarimetric observations at the CFHT telescope in Hawaii. The delta Scuti stars are pulsating stars some of which show signatures attributed to a second type of pulsations. The discovery shows that it is actually the signature of a magnetic field. This has important implications for understanding the interior of such stars.

Science4Refugees initiative under EURAXESS

Tue, 13 Oct 2015 00:00:00 +0100

On October 5 a new EURAXESS initiative was launched by Commissioner Moedas. This measure will enable a match-making process between refugees and asylum seekers with a scientific background and the scientific institutions that voluntarily declare themselves as "refugee-welcoming organisations". ‘science4refugees’ is accessible to refugees and institutions through EURAXESS - Researchers in Motion portal.

How does it work?
For scientific and academic institutions:
As such the functionalities of the EURAXESS Jobs portal remained unchanged. However, interested institutions can now flag their offers – be it positions, internships or training courses – with the ‘science4refugees’ emblem to indicate their interest in hiring also asylum seekers. It is a simple click on the jobs publication page.
In addition to this, scientific and academic institutions in favour of the initiative will be awarded the ‘science4refugees’ emblem, declaring they are open to employing refugees and asylum seekers. They only need to register on a dedicated entry on the portal; our back-office will send the emblem to them.

For refugees:
Refugees and asylum seekers can upload their CVs on a dedicated EURAXESS page and express their interest for an internship, a job or training. Registration is on a free and voluntary basis. In addition, the portal provides access to a complete range of information on working conditions in Europe for refugees and asylum seekers.
Our contractor works now on a very basic "app" to facilitate the entry to the registration page.

How can you come into play?
- Follow actively the facebook and twitter pages (science4refugees)
- Promote the initiative within your institution so that many of them sign up for the S4R flag
- Inform refugees about the opportunities and invite them to upload the CV

EU Prize for Women Innovators

Wed, 30 Sep 2015 00:00:00 +0100

The European Commission runs the third edition of the EU Prize for Women Innovators to reward three women who have achieved outstanding innovations and brought them to market. The prize aims to raise awareness of the need for more female entrepreneurs and to inspire other women to follow in their footsteps.
The first prize is worth €100 000, the second prize €50 000 and third prize €30 000. The contest is open to all women residing in the EU or associated countries who have founded or co-founded a company across all sectors and who have at some point of their careers benefitted from EU's research and innovation funding.
Be careful, the deadline for submitting an application is approaching (20 October 2015). Don't hesitate disseminate this information to potential contestants. A high-level jury will evaluate and select the three winners who will be announced in 2016.
Please read the leaflet for more information and visit our website

New commander on RV Belgica

Mon, 21 Sep 2015 00:00:00 +0100

On Friday the 11th of September 2015, Bernard Tabureau took over the command of the oceanographic research vessel RV Belgica from Luc Van Tricht in Temse. Temse is the place where the RV Belgica was built and the ship and Temse still have a strong bond after all these years.


New Call for proposals King Baudouin Foundation (Belgium) European Foundations Award for Responsible Research and Innovation

Thu, 17 Sep 2015 00:00:00 +0100

Have you successfully incorporated innovative methods to align your research with the needs of society? Do you contribute responsibly to the development of a smart, inclusive and sustainable society?
The European Foundations Award for Responsible Research & Innovation invites you to share your responsible research project and receive €20.000!
The award is a joint initiative of the King Baudouin Foundation (Belgium), “la Caixa” Foundation (Spain), Fondazione Cariplo (Italy), Lundbeck Foundation (Denmark), the Robert Bosch Stiftung (Germany) and the European Foundation Centre Research Forum.

UNESCO - Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB): Young Scientists Awards Scheme

Wed, 09 Sep 2015 00:00:00 +0100

Since 1989 MAB has been providing 10 young researchers each year with awards of up to US$ 5,000 in support of their research on ecosystems, natural resources and biodiversity. Through the MAB Young Scientists Awards, MAB is investing in a new generation of scientists worldwide because we think well-trained and committed young people are key to addressing ecological and sustainability issues.
The deadline for submission of application forms for the 2016 MAB Young Scientists Awards is 31 October 2015.
Contactperson MAB focal point BEL:
Brigitte Decadt (BELSPO)

UNESCO - Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB): Michel Batisse Award for Biosphere Reserve Management

Wed, 09 Sep 2015 00:00:00 +0100

This prize is awarded each year in memory of Dr Michel Batisse for excellence in the management of the biosphere reserves in line with the recommendations of the Seville Strategy.
The 2015 Michel Batisse Award for a case study concerning the management of a biosphere reserve was attributed to Bandi Namkhai, Director of the Khustain Nuruu Biosphere Reserve in Mongolia, for his study of Khustain Nuruu.
The deadline for submission of application forms for 2016 Michel Batisse Award is 30 November 2015.
Contactperson MAB focal point BEL:
Brigitte Decadt (BELSPO)

ISS astronaut eager to operate METERON rover on Earth

Wed, 02 Sep 2015 00:00:00 +0100

In the early morning of 2 September, ESA’s Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen will fly on a Soyuz spacecraft for a short-duration mission of 8 days on board the International Space Station (ISS). Once on board, he’ll get to work inside ESA’s Columbus laboratory, carrying out a series of European experiments to test new technologies and operational techniques for future space missions. Belgium is giving operational support for two of them.

Rock Art colloquium

Tue, 01 Sep 2015 00:00:00 +0100

The colloquium “What Ever Happened to the People? Humans and Anthropomorphs in the Rock Art of Northern Africa”, will focus on human and human-like representations in Northern African rock art, which, next to animals and abstract figures, are no doubt one of the major and most informative components of the rock art repertoire. There are no chronological limitations to the subject, which comprises, among many other types of human figures, Pleistocene Late Palaeolithic ‘headless females’, Neolithic Naturalistic Bubaline therianthropes and Libyan Warriors and Camel Period cavaliers from the historical periods. All facets of human representations will be dealt with: chronological considerations, stylistic variability, ethnographic aspects, and so on. Thus far, the programme comprises 45 contributions (including a public lecture for a large audience). The aim of the conference is to discuss and properly define the relevance of human representations for rock art research in Northern Africa.

Ten European countries invest €7.5 million into research on microplastics in the ocean

Mon, 31 Aug 2015 00:00:00 +0100

Four research projects investigating the impact of plastic particles on the marine environment are selected for funding from ten member countries of the Joint Programming Initiative Healthy and productive Seas and Oceans (JPI Oceans)

The Sunspot Number, the "longest ongoing scientific experiment" revisited

Thu, 20 Aug 2015 00:00:00 +0100

Last week, at the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union in Honolulu (Hawaii), the standardization of the sunspot number was publicly announced. IAU called the sunspot number the "longest ongoing scientific experiment" and this dataset is therefore the key to track the evolution of the Sun. Given its fundamental nature, the sunspot number series is broadly used in astrophysics (stellar evolution) and the long-term impact of solar evolution on life on Earth.


Mon, 27 Jul 2015 00:00:00 +0100

Initié par la Politique scientifique fédérale (BELSPO), en partenariat avec le Centre d’Études Supérieures de la Renaissance (CESR) de l’Université François Rabelais-CNRS de Tours, ARTBox est un projet visant à faire connaître les oeuvres des musées fédéraux sous un autre angle, dans un espace différent, au départ d'oeuvres musicales qui leur correspondent esthétiquement.
Né de la conviction que différentes approches de l'art sont complémentaires, le projet ARTBox vous invite à vivre une expérience multisensorielle de sensibilisation à l'art à l'intérieur d'un musée mobile qui s'installera dans les espaces publics de façon temporaire.

Het project ARTBox, een initiatief van het Federaal Wetenschapsbeleid (BELSPO) in samenwerking met het Centre d’Études Supérieures de la Renaissance (CESR) van de Université François Rabelais-CNRS in Tours, koestert de ambitie om de kunstwerken die onze federale musea bewaren vanuit een andere invalshoek voor te stellen, in een ongewone ruimte en uitgaand van muzikale composities die op esthetisch vlak overeenkomsten met die kunstwerken bezitten.
ARTBox is ontstaan uit de overtuiging dat verschillende benaderingen van kunst elkaar aanvullen. Het project nodigt u uit voor een zintuiglijke beleving die u wil sensibiliseren voor kunst in een mobiel museum dat tijdelijk wordt opgesteld op publieke plaatsen.

A Prehistoric Mammal with Blood Red Teeth!

Fri, 17 Jul 2015 00:00:00 +0100

Our colleague and palaeontologist Thierry Smith (Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS)) has discovered a 70 million year old mammal with red teeth in Transylvania, Romania. Iron strengthened Barbatodon transylvanicus’ incisors and molars and gave them their red colour. Barbatodon is the oldest known fossil mammal with iron in its teeth and its skull is the most complete mammal fossil from the Upper Cretaceous period in Europe.

Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences: "Peer review"

Tue, 14 Jul 2015 00:00:00 +0100

In 2014 the Institute's scientific departments (not the Museum) underwent a peer review.
You can find an evaluation summary in the Management Summary, and numerous quotations from the peer review's final report can be found in the Institute's 2014 Annual Report.

Secretary of State Sleurs Increases Budget for RV Belgica

Mon, 29 Jun 2015 00:00:00 +0100

Secretary of State for Science Policy, Elke Sleurs, has increased the maintenance budget for our oceanographic research vessel, the RV Belgica. She has provided € 1,019,000 on top of the existing, recurrent annual increase (€ 550,000) in the RV Belgica's operating budget. This is a clear signal of just how important our research vessel is!


Belgium puts spotlight on remote sensing in support of agriculture at the Milan world expo

Fri, 19 Jun 2015 00:00:00 +0100

On June 11th 2015, during a workshop in the Belgian Pavilion entitled Space4Food, the contribution of remote sensing to food security and sustainable agriculture took centre stage.
The workshop was jointly organised by BELSPO, EWI and WBI
For more information:
- Communication
- Programme
- Presentations

Sarcophagi: Under the stars of Nut

Thu, 18 Jun 2015 00:00:00 +0100

Eternity! To live once more just like the god of the afterlife Osiris, to rise again like the sun that is born from the womb of Nut, the godess of the sky... The Ancient Egyptians had high expectations of life after death!
This fall, come to the Cinquantenaire Museum and discover the secrets of the Egyptian sarcophagi as well as the masterpieces of the Museum, including coffins, death masks and embalmed cats, many never shown before. You can also witness an expert Italian restoration team at work as they one by one restore the coffins of the Theban priests that were discovered in 1891 inthe Second Cache of Deir el-Bahari.

The MELiSSA PhD program (POMP) is officially open.

Wed, 17 Jun 2015 00:00:00 +0100

The MELiSSA Foundation has the pleasure to announce that the MELiSSA PhD program (POMP) is officially open. The POMP program is financed by the European Space Agency and is organized to (co-)finance a number of PhD students with the objective to carry out research in the MELiSSA technology domain. Our webpage is designed as a platform for students to prepare their applications and can be found here:

Tapestries from the era of Charles V Fri 22-05-2015 - Sun 30-08-2015

Fri, 22 May 2015 00:00:00 +0100

During the summer of 2015, the Cinquantenaire Museum is organising a small but exceptional exhibition of Brussels tapestries around one of the best known works held in its collection. This tapestry represents a scene that is associated with the legend of the statue of Notre-Dame du Sablon, a legend which is at the origin of the Brussels Ommegang (religious procession). The work shows several members of the archducal family that ruled the Lowlands at the start of the 16th century, surrounded by a sumptuous courtly household.

JPI Oceans publishes its first Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda

Mon, 11 May 2015 00:00:00 +0100

The first copies of the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda were handed over to Norwegian State Secretary Dilek Ayhan, Belgian State Secretary Bart Tommelein and, Director General of DG Research and Innovation, European Commission Robert-Jan Smits. JPI Oceans.pdf

Belgian Archaeological Mission to Elkab discovers important fragment of unique Old Kingdom royal statue

Mon, 04 May 2015 00:00:00 +0100

Since 2009, the Belgian Archaeological Mission to Elkab, directed by Dr. Dirk Huyge of the Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels, has focused its research on the settlement area of Elkab. Excavation campaigns in 2009, 2010 and 2012 have revealed the presence of a vast habitation area, situated within the Late Period Great Walls, immediately north and west of the temple zone.
The latest test trenches executed at the site in February-March 2015 have allowed the mission to better document both the important 2nd Dynasty habitation layers,including substantial rectangular buildings with large walls and stone foundations, as well as the late Predynastic (Naqada III period) occupation. The most exceptional find of the 2015 campaign, however, was that of a fragment (base and lower part of legs) of an Old Kingdom royal statue. The preserved height is 21.7 cm. The inscriptions on the fragment have been independently verified and read by Egyptologists Prof. John Coleman Darnell (Yale University, New Haven, US) and Dr. Luc Delvaux (Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussels, Belgium). They give the almost complete titulary of king Sahure (ca. 2458-2446 BC), an illustrious pharaoh of the 5th Dynasty (the text was probably inscribed identically on either side of his legs). The statue, executed in fine-grained sandstone, undoubtedly represents the king seated on a throne. Its original height can be estimated at about 70 cm. Sahure is the second king of the 5th Dynasty. He is best known for his vast funerary complex, including a pyramid and its mortuary and valley temples, at the royal cemetery of Abusir just north of Saqqara.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change: Nominations

Fri, 24 Apr 2015 00:00:00 +0100

Nominations for the position of the IPCC Chair, as well as members of the IPCC Bureau and any Task Force Bureau (TFB). A new Bureau of the IPCC and the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories is to be elected at the 42nd Session of the Panel. The 42nd Session is scheduled to take place in Dubrovnik, Croatia from 5 to 8 October 2015. Your application should be submitted to a member of the IPCC.

UNESCO Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation 2015

Tue, 10 Mar 2015 00:00:00 +0100

The purpose of the UNESCO Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environment Preservation , is to afford recognition to outstanding contributions by individuals, groups of individuals, institutes or organizations in the management or preservation of the environment, consistent with the policies, aims and objectives of UNESCO, and in relation to the Organization’s programmes in this field. Deadline for submitting nominations for the 2015 Prize is 15 June 2015.

UNESCO - Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB): Michel Batisse Award for Biosphere Reserve Management

Sun, 09 Sep 2012 00:00:00 +0100

This prize is awarded each year in memory of Dr Michel Batisse for excellence in the management of the biosphere reserves in line with the recommendations of the Seville Strategy.
The 2015 Michel Batisse Award for a case study concerning the management of a biosphere reserve was attributed to Bandi Namkhai, Director of the Khustain Nuruu Biosphere Reserve in Mongolia, for his study of Khustain Nuruu.
The deadline for submission of application forms for 2016 Michel Batisse Award is 30 November 2015.
Contactperson MAB focal point BEL:
Brigitte Decadt (BELSPO)


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