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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.

Michel Kruglansli, head of B.USOC (Belgian User Support and Operations Centre) at BIRA-IASB was interviewed by the french-speaking RTBF News about the Starliner test flight.

The Starliner was developed by Boeing, with the intention of replacing the Russian Soyuz rockets. The Soyuz are currently being used to bring astronauts to the International Space Station, and this costs the NASA and ESA quite a lot of money.

Although the unmanned Starliner capsule has not reached the ISS, it has safely landed back on Earth. A positive sign for the future!

The Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy wishes you happy holidays!

Space-based measurements indicate that Central Africa is a global hotspot of formaldehyde (H2CO). This is due to biomass burning and to the emissions of the vegetation itself. African megacities also suffer from poor air quality associated with the widespread use of domestic combustion for cooking and old car fleets.

The methane mystery on Mars has had many twists and turns in recent years with unexpected detections and non-detections alike. Most recent is the detection in June by NASA’s Curiosity rover, which reported the highest burst of methane recorded yet. However, neither ESA’s Mars Express nor the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter recorded any signs of the elusive gas, despite flying over the same location at a similar time.

On July 25, 2019 (midnight, Belgian time), the payload Multiscale Boiling (or RUBI experiment) was launched successfully aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with SpaceX’s 18th resupply flight to the International Space Station (ISS). In August, astronaut Luca Parmitano will install RUBI inside the Fluid Science Laboratory (FSL) in the framework of the mission Beyond. The FSL laboratory is located within the Columbus module of the ISS. The installation date is currently set to Friday 9th of August 2019.

Dormant since 1924, the Raikoke Volcano in the Kuril Island chain, near the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia, recently awoke. Data from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P and Sentinel-3 satellites are giving vital information on its aftermath.

On 21 June at about 18:00 UTC, the circular 2.5 km x 2.0 km island discharged a vast plume of volcanic gases and ash, between 7 and 15 km into the sky. The thick plume was carried to the east by a cyclone in the North Pacific, which the Copernicus Sentinel-3 and Sentinel-5P satellites recorded.