Training, research, expertise: the University of Liège is at the forefront of the space field. To understand the origin and evolution of the Earth and the Universe... To participate in the development of advanced space missions.

Domaine STAR

Research units

STAR - Space sciences, Technologies and Astrophysics Research

The STAR research unit conducts research in areas such as planetology (detection, characterization and direct imaging of exoplanets, study of planets and small bodies of the solar system, composition and dynamics of the Earth's atmosphere), Stellar astrophysics (observational characterisation and modelling of stars and their evolution, interaction of stars with their environment, high energy emission), cosmology, dark energy, extragalactic astrophysics and astro-particles (quasars, gravitational lenses, large-scale structures, dark matter, cosmic rays), and is also interested in instrumentation (Earth observation and satellites, ground instruments. STAR participates in the development of space missions and ground instruments, and the collection and modelling of data obtained with the largest international observatories and with the telescopes of the unit)

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Astrobiology combines multidisciplinary approaches to study the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe, including the Earth, the only biological planet known so far. The ASTROBIOLOGY Research Unit studies the habitability of rocky planets and the detection and characterization of biosignatures, from early life traces and evolution on the early Earth, to the detection of possible extraterrestrial biosignatures in the solar system and in potentially habitable exoplanets.

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A&M - Aérospatiale et Mécanique (Aerospace and Mechanics)

The disciplinary foundations of the research activities carried out within the A&M Research Unit are the physics of materials, the mechanics of continuum (solid and fluid), the dynamics of mechanical systems and thermodynamics. The main fields of application are aeronautics and space, land vehicle mechanics, mechanical engineering, energetics and biomedical engineering. The methodological approach is based on the successful confrontation of mathematical and numerical modelling with the experimental study of phenomena and mechanical systems.

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The Montefiore Institute is the electricity, electronics and IT department of the Faculty of Applied Sciences of the University of Liège. It is active in a range of basic and applied research topics in various fields: information and communication technologies, computer science, electronics, power systems and mathematical applications.


Facilities and equipment

CSL - Centre Spatial de Liège (Liège Space Centre)

The Centre Spatial de Liège is an applied research centre of the University of Liège focused on the design of space observation instruments. The CSL also has a state-of-the-art environmental testing centre at the service of the European Space Agency (ESA), the space industry and regional companies. Its remarkable equipment consists in particular of tanks of different diameters installed in ultra-clean rooms, which make it possible to simulate the severe space environment in which the satellites and their instruments will have to function. The CSL also has the stimuli and optical calibration systems needed to validate the systems and instruments it designs, or which are entrusted to it.

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TRAPPIST telescopes

TRAPPIST (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope) is a project co-led by the Cosmological and Astrophysical Origins (OrCA) research group of the STAR Research Unit and by the ExoTIC research group of the ASTROBIOLOGY Research Unit.  Mainly funded by the National Fund for Scientific Research (Belgium, FRS-FNRS) and the University of Liège (ULiège, Belgium), TRAPPIST is dedicated to the detection and characterisation of planets orbiting other stars than our Sun (exoplanets) (under the leadership of the ExoTIC Lab) and the study of comets and other small bodies of our solar system (under the leadership of the OrCA Lab). It consists of two 60 cm robotic telescopes, one in the southern hemisphere, installed at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile in June 2010 and the other in the northern hemisphere, installed in May 2016 at the observatory of Oukaimeden in Morocco. 

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SPECULOOS telescopes

The SPECULOOS Project (Search for habitable Planets EClipsing ULtra-cOOl Stars) aims to detect telluric planets eclipsing some of the smallest and coldest stars in the solar neighbourhood. This strategy is motivated by the possibility of studying such planets in detail with future ambitious observatories such as the European Giant Telescope (E-ELT) or the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The exoplanets detected by SPECULOOS should thus offer us the opportunity to analyse the atmosphere of extrasolar worlds similar to our Earth, in particular to look for traces of a biological activity.

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TIGRE telescopes

El Tigre (el Telescopio Internacional de Guanajuato, Robótico-Espectroscópico - initially known as "HRT" - Hamburg Robotic Telescope) is a private and flexible telescope partly funded by the University of Liège. The fruit of a German-Mexican-Liege partnership, it will enable the Liège astrophysicists to undertake many completely new studies on the stars, and is also an opportunity for amateurs and the general public to discover an unknown science.

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STAR, a research unit at the forefront of space research

Planetology, stellar astrophysics, cosmology, extragalactic astrophysics and astroparticles, instrumentation... The STAR research unit brings together cutting-edge research in the field of space science and technology in a single structure.



Discovered in May 2016 by an international team led by par Michaël Gillon, an astronomer at the University of Liege, the exoplanetary system TRAPPIST-1 is the system with the biggest number of rocky planets and the greatest number of potentially habitable worlds ever discovered up to the present day.

Astronomers of the Liege team are now back from the European Southern Observatory of Paranal (Chile), where they commissioned the first telescope of the SPECULOOS project, named Europa, which will soon scout the southern skies in search for TRAPPIST-1-like planetary systems around a large sample of nearby ultracool dwarf stars.

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updated on 4/4/24

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