ULiège at the State Visit to Germany


ULiège took part in the State Visit to Germany earlier this week. Rector Anne-Sophie Nyssen was accompanied by the Vice-Rector for International Affairs and Mobility, Pierre Duysinx, and several teachers and researchers, including Professor Christian Behrendt (who, in addition to his duties as Professor of Constitutional Law, is also Honorary Consul of the Federal Republic of Germany in Liège) and, in the space field, Emmanuël Jehin, Serge Habraken and Christophe Collette.

The morning of 6 December was devoted in Berlin to a symposium on space organised by ULiège on behalf of French-speaking universities (From cross border collaborations to infinity and beyond), and a visit to the DLR, the German Centre for Aeronautics and Astronautics. The King and Queen took part in the morning session. Raphaël Liégeois, the new Belgian astronaut with a degree in Biomedical Civil Engineering and a doctor in Engineering Sciences from ULiège, was also present, as was Julien de Wit, a graduate in Aerospace Civil Engineering from ULiège and professor of planetary sciences at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).

During the morning, Emmanuël Jehin presented to the Sovereigns at the DLR the collaborations in the field of exoplanet research, including the latest information on the Trappist-1 exoplanetary system discovered in 2016 by the team of astronomers from ULiège around Michaël Gillon, winner of the Francqui prize. He spoke about the future European Space Telescope (ESA) PLATO (Planetary transits and oscillations of stars), which will aim to discover and characterise new exoplanets. The telescope, which is due to be launched into orbit at the end of 2026, will be tested at the Centre Spatial de Liège (CSL, ULiège).

During the symposium, Prof. Christophe Collette addressed the subject of gravitational waves, those tiny jolts in space-time predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago and observed for the first time in 2015 by the LIGO instrument. Today, the construction of a third-generation European gravitational wave observatory, the Einstein telescope, is on the ESFRI (European Strategic Forum for Research Infrastructures) roadmap. Belgium is involved because the Three Borders region (Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany) is a candidate host for this giant infrastructure, which will be buried at a depth of 250-300 metres. As part of the E-TEST preparatory projects, Christophe Collette coordinated the assembly at the CSL of a suspended mirror at cryogenic temperature, which is now being tested in one of the CSL's tanks. This is a prototype for a new instrument that is particularly sensitive to the detection of gravitational waves. These E-TEST projects, which also included a study of the subsoil in the area planned for the installation of the Einstein telescope, were the subject of a kick-out event on 21 November, attended by more than 250 people in Liège.

At the Wista conference centre, where the symposium was held on 6 December, two ULiège PhD researchers in space science and aerospace, Mathilde Timmermans and Morgane Zeoli, spoke directly to the King and Queen.

The day before, the Rector Anne-Sophie Nyssen took advantage of her presence in Berlin to hold a friendly meeting with a number of ULiège alumni.


Marie Clotuche

Photos : ©ULiège

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