Planetary Atmospheres Group

Meet the team


Robert Séverine
  • Head of the "Planetary Atmospheres" Group
  • Spectroscopy ; Retrievals ; Space instrumentation

Miscellaneous Information

Miscellaneous Information

Main research fields

I am a spectroscopist interested in characterizing (exo-)planetary atmospheres. I have expertise in experimental spectroscopy, radiative transfer theory, development of space instruments and ... project management.

Supervision and coordination

Scientific community services

Short bio

I obtained my PhD degree in Sciences at the Université Libre de Bruxelles in June 2009. In the "Chimie quantique et Photophysique" laboratory (now SQUARES), I experienced the beauty of molecular spectroscopy. In September 2009, I joined the Planetary Atmospheres Unit at the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB), as a scientific assistant and spectroscopic expert. First as a scientist on the SOIR instrument then on NOMAD, I acquired expertise in retrieval methods but also in instrumental and mission development.

The radiative transfer code developed and maintained at BIRA-IASB, ASIMUT offers a wide range of applications. Various planetary atmospheres probed by different types of instruments via different viewing geometries can be considered. Recent developments included spectral and instrumental synergies, field of view weighting functions, asymmetric description of the probed atmospheres in solar occultation, ... I use ASIMUT to perform retrievals on different datasets, from ground-based (ALMA, CSHELL/ IRTF and soon JWST) to space instruments (SOIR/ Venus Express, NOMAD/ ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, OMEGA/ and PFS/ Mars Express, VIRTIS/ Venus Express).

From November 2018 until May 2020, I was the Project Manager and the Instrument Scientist of a new instrument, VenSpec-H, which will fly onboard EnVision. The objectives of the mission is to gain insights in Venus' activity, from the surface to the upper atmosphere. To this aim, we proposed an infrared instrument, working in nadir from 1 to 2.5 microns. I established the scientific requirements and iterate with industry and ESA to design an instrument capable of measuring variations of molecular abundances in the Venusian atmosphere.

From May 2020 until February 2022, I held a research position shared between the Université catholique de Louvain and BIRA-IASB, in the frame of the RT-MOLEXO project aiming at designing laboratory set-ups for planetary applications. This project continues as since March 2022, I joined the staff of BIRA-IASB as Instrument Scientist of VenSpec-H and now co-lead of the RT-MOLEXO project.

Since September 2023, I lead the Planetary Atmospheres Group at BIRA-IASB.


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