Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) – Curiosity rover

Update: Successful landing in Gale Crater on August 6, 2012 at 05:14:39 UTC
NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission will deliver the Curiosity rover, the largest planetary rover ever flown, to the Red Planet’s surface early in the morning of 6 August. [...]

Venus Transit 2012

Honorary head of Department Dr. Eric Elst of the ROB observed the transit of Venus of June 6, 2012 in Tobolsk (Siberia). In 2005 he found there the place where Chappe d’Auteroche observed the transit of June 6, 1671. Dr. Elst travelled to the same place to observe, besides mosquitos and clouds, the transit of 2012. A few of his [...]

Saturn – Existence of a Tidal Energy Dissipation

By mixing the very old digitized data and the data from space probes, scientists from an international team in which also the Royal Observatory of Belgium takes part showed the existence of a tidal energy dissipation in Saturn larger than expected and have reconciled it with theory by revisiting the interior model of Saturn and by changing the orbit scenarios. [...]

Mars Express Gravity Results Plot Volcanic History

Five years of Mars Express (MaRS experiment) and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter gravity mapping data are providing unique insights into what lies beneath the Red Planet’s largest volcanoes. The results show that the density of the lava changed over time and that the thickness of the planet’s rigid outer layers varies across the Tharsis region. [...]

Solar Activity Rises More

On March 07, 2012, around 1h30 Belgian time, an X5.4 flare was detected in the same sunspot group that produced the X1.1 flare on March 05.
A magnetized plasma cloud was ejected into space. The consequences for Belgium are for this moment limited. [...]

Venus Spins Slower than Before

ESA’s Venus Express spacecraft has discovered that Venus spins a little slower than previously measured.

Ozgur Karatekin of the Royal Observatory is one of the scientists in the research team. [...]

PROBA-2 and Comet “Lovejoy”

The SWAP telescope onboard the Belgian-led satellite PROBA2 has obtained some of the best-ever photographs of a comet passing near the sun. Comet Lovejoy flew through the solar corona, just above the sun’s surface, near midnight on December 16, 2011. This is only the second time ever that a comet has been observed in an extreme-ultraviolet (EUV) solar telescope. [...]

Herschel Probes the Dusty History of a Giant Star

An international team led by KU Leuven astronomer Leen Decin and including Martin Groenewegen of ROB discovered not less than a dozen cold dust arcs around the giant star CW Leo. The team used the sensitive PACS instrument on board the Herschel Space Observatory to detect for the first time arcs of dust far away from the star. [...]

An Impact Driven Dynamo for the Early Moon

The Royal Observatory of Belgium participates in an interdisciplinary study on the origin of the early magnetic field of the early Moon. Researchers from the field of fluid mechanics and lunar geophysics joined forces. They showed in their article in Nature that the early magnetic field was caused by movements of material after instantaneous changes of the rotation rate of [...]

The Turbulent Life of Stars

The stars are boiling! The reason is the energy generated in the centre of the star that wants to escape. If this does not happen quickly enough, the star starts to ‘boil’ in the outer layers causing vibrations that result in light variations, like in the Sun. Such oscillations have now been discovered by Victoria Antoci and collaborators, including astronomer [...]