Prestigious European Grant for Dr. Véronique Dehant

Prestigious European Grant for Dr. Véronique Dehant


Cover illustration of the book: “Precession, Nutation and Wobble of the Earth” by V. Dehant and P.M. Mathews, published by Cambridge University Press. Image courtesy of Wim Vander Putten (ROB).

The European Research Council (ERC) has announced the award of its prestigious Advanced Grants to 190 senior researchers. The funding, worth in total €445 million, will enable them and their teams to pursue ground-breaking ideas. One of these researchers is Dr. Véronique Dehant of ROB, with the project RotaNut: Rotation and Nutation of a wobbly Earth.

RotaNut: Making sense of the wobbly Earth and improving Galileo and GPS

To measure time humans have long used the rotation of the Earth. To locate themselves in space, travellers looked up to the stars as reference points.

Today, there are atomic clocks for accurate timekeeping and advanced geodetic techniques to determine the position of objects. Yet, there is still a gap when it comes to precision of these measurements. The cause is the irregular rotation and orientation of the Earth.

Our planet spins unevenly because of what happens with the mass in its core and mantle, and due to the gravitational pull of the Sun and the Moon. Mixing different approaches from astronomy, geophysics, geodesy and fluid dynamics, Professor Véronique Dehant of the Royal Observatory of Belgium aims to improve the model for the rotation and orientation of the Earth, and to make use measurements with sub-centimetre precision. This will be instrumental to European and international satellite missions and Global Navigation Satellite Systems such as GPS and Galileo. At the same time, it will allow scientists to learn much more about the interior of the Earth.