Topic 5

Exploring the Universe  

 8 October 2020 16:30 - 19:00 CET

Exploring the Universe  

Space missions allow exploring the Solar System, including our Sun, and beyond. Questions like the habitability of Mars in the past, or the possibility of life within the icy moons of the gas giant planets in our solar system, are intriguing humankind. Asteroids provide information on the building blocks of our Solar System. Furthermore, there might be habitable planets outside of our solar system, so-called exoplanets. Our Universe is vast, and its origin and evolution are fascinating.


  • Space weather and solar physics

  • Asteroids, moons, planets

  • Exoplanets

  • Cosmology


Véronique Dehant

Head of service - ROB & Professor UCLouvain

Véronique Dehant works at the Royal Observatory of Belgium, where she is Responsible for the Operational Directorate “Reference Systems and Planetary Science”. She is also Extraordinary Professor at the Université Catholique de Louvain. She is Academician (Royal Academy of Belgium; Science class) since 2010 and was awarded with several prizes, including the Descartes Prize of the European Union in 2003. In 2015, she has obtained a European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant, with the project RotaNut: Rotation and Nutation of a wobbly Earth. She is Principal Investigator of the experience LaRa (Lander Radioscience) selected for the ExoMars 2020 mission. 

Understanding the formation and evolution of the solar system thanks to meteorites

Vincianne Debaille

FNRS Senior Research

Vinciane Debaille is a geologist by training, and more particularly a geochemist specialized in the chemical composition of rocks to date them and understand how they formed. She is particularly interested in the study of meteorites of different origins, coming from asteroids, but also from the Moon and Mars. She participated in several meteorite collection missions in Antarctica.

Exoplanets and the search for life beyond our solar system


Michael Gillon

FNRS Senior Research Associate at the University of Liege

After studies in biochemistry (Master) and astrophysics (PhD) at Liège from 1998 to 2006, Michael Gillon embarked in a scientific career in the field of exoplanets to which he has brought many significant results. Notably, he led the detection of the fascinating TRAPPIST-1 system composed of seven Earth-sized planets -some of them potentially habitable- in orbit a nearby tiny star.

Our Universe: a 13.8 billion years old enigma

Maerten Baes

Professor of Astrophysics at Ghent University

Maarten Baes obtained his PhD in 2001, he subsequently worked in the UK and in Chile, and since 2005 he is professor of astrophysics at Ghent University. His research interests include interstellar matter, galaxy evolution and infrared astronomy. He uses supercomputer simulations as well as astronomical observations from ground-based and space observatories for his research. He has coauthored more than 300 publications and has supervised 15 PhD thesis and more than 50 master theses. He teaches various astronomy courses at the bachelor and master level at Ghent University, and regularly contributes to outreach activities all over the country.


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