The National Institute for Earth Sciences and Astronomy (INSU) co-ordinates research covering a wide spectrum: astronomy and astrophysics; science of the Ocean and the Atmosphere; Earth Sciences and those of continental surfaces. The INSU is structured around the Observatories (OSU), and is engaged in national and international programmes. It opens ways to answer today's major scientific challenges of the Earth and Astronomy, and planetary issues, such as the effects of climate change, solutions for sustainable development, the assessment of renewable energies, the anticipation of natural risks, or origins and evolution of the Universe.

Co-ordinating research in Earth Sciences and Astronomy

The INSU drives French research in Astronomy and the Earth's system, and together with its partners' designs national strategy. To carry out their research, which is most frequently in the context of national or international programmes, researchers depend on observation, analysis and modelling through large research infrastructures created or managed by the Institute.

Defining a national strategy

Universal issues

The INSU activates and co-ordinates research concerning the origin and evolution of the Universe, the exploration of the solar system, the planet Earth, and the environment, and is interested in planetary issues such as the evolution of the Earth, climate change, the evolution of resources or natural risks.

Numerous partnerships

Along with its partners – Universities, other public organisms, industries –, the INSU contributes to the structuring of national research in Earth Sciences and Astronomy by identifying emerging research areas that are of priority for support.
Together, they finance projects in the context of inter-organism programmes, and co-ordinate the implementation of national or international research equipments. Also, they steer the OSU network.

8 000 people are involved, in approximately a hundred units

With researchers, academics, PhD students, postdoctoral fellows, engineers, and technicians, the INSU comprises approximately a hundred research and service units in France and abroad, within which some 8000 people employed by the CNRS and its partners.

3227 researchers and academics (of whom 965 are CNRS)
3 037 engineers and technicians (of whom 1 467 are CNRS)
1 657 PhD students and postdoctoral fellows

Steering and managing infrastructures

Steering national observation services

To understand the structure and evolution of the Universe and the planets, or long-term changes in the atmosphere, oceans, and continents, the INSU needs data covering long periods of time. This role falls to the national observation services (SNOs) that the institute labels and steers.

Design and management of research infrastructures

The INSU also participates in the definition, setting up and management of national, European, and international infrastructures that form the major means of observation for the study of the Universe, the planets, the atmosphere, the Oceans, the surfaces and interior of the Earth. These include: oceanographic vessels and floats, planes, large geophysical observation networks, telescopes, geochemistry platforms, data portals and services.

Design of space missions

The INSU is a major actor in space sciences developed in close partnership with the French National Centre for Space Studies (CNES): its researchers design missions or instruments embedded in probes and satellites and use observations to answer scientific questions.

Internationally recognized expertise

A key participant of international programmes

The INSU is one of the pilots of the European Astronomy prospective within Astronet. The INSU takes part in the development of large international programmes (MISTRALS, GEOTRACES, Research Data Alliance, etc.).
Again within Europe, the INSU is heavily involved in forecasting services such as Mercator (oceanography) and Prev’air (for air quality). It contributes to the construction of Copernicus, the European observation system for the environment.

A central role within IPCC

The INSU researchers also play a central role within the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC), thus helping French research attain world-wide recognition.


The intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) is an international organism, which is open to all member countries of the United Nations (ONU). This group "has as its mission to evaluate, without bias and in a methodical, clear and objective fashion, information of a scientific, technical and socio-economical nature, which we need to better understand the risks of human origin linked to global warming, to identify more precisely the possible consequences of this change, and to envisage potential strategies of adaptation and attenuation."

Organizational Chart


Director (1)

Executive assistant

Catherine Cisowski-Mounier

Deputy Director (1)


Sahila Krouri

Transversal affairs – Scientific advisers (7)

Polar affairs

Marie-Noëlle Houssais

Spatial affairs

Martin Giard et Laurent Vibert

Space programmes

Roger Pons

HPC and data

Jean-Pierre Vilotte

AllEnvi executive secretary

Christelle Marlin


Maurice Libes

Scientific and technical information

Aude Chambodut

Scientific Deputy Directors

Scientific Deputy Director for Astronomy-Astrophysics (AA) (7)


Élisabeth Bonthomas

Scientific adviser

Bruno Bézard

Scientific adviser

Jean-Gabriel Cuby

Scientific adviser

Bruno Guiderdoni

Scientific adviser

Aurélie Marchaudon

Scientific adviser

Karine Perraut

Scientific adviser

Michel Perault

Scientific Deputy Director for Solid Earth (TS) (6)


Prescilia Bagenge

Scientific adviser

Jérôme Rose

Scientific adviser

Daniel Sauter

Scientific adviser

Olivier Vidal

Scientific adviser

France Lagroix

Scientific adviser

Helle Pedersen

Scientific Deputy Director for Ocean-Atmosphere (OA) (5)


Prescilia Bagenge

Scientific adviser

Eric Guilyardi

Scientific adviser

Pascale Braconnot

Scientific adviser

Christophe Delacourt

Scientific adviser

Jean-François Doussin

Scientific Deputy Director for continental surfaces and interfaces (SIC) (7)


Élisabeth Bonthomas

Scientific adviser

Christophe Delacourt

Scientific adviser

Aline Dia

Scientific adviser

François Chabaux

Scientific adviser

Jérôme Gaillardet

Scientific adviser

Sylvie Galle

Scientific adviser

Jérôme Rose

Scientific Deputy Director in charge of site policy, SNO and OSU (1)


Doriane Bouillod

Scientific Deputy Director in charge of research infrastructures (2)


Doriane Bouillod

Scientific adviser

Raphaël Pik

Technical development

Technical deputy director (1)


Sahila Krouri

Industrial relations

Director for industrial relations (2)


Doriane Bouillod

SKA project lead

Kevin Barrière

Administrative department

Administrative deputy director (6)


Sahila Krouri

Communication service

Anne Brès

Service for scientific partnerships

Véra Frassetto

Service for budgets and financial affairs

Marcelline Prosper-Cojande

Service for human resource strategy and structure monitoring

Céline Boukili

Officer for studies and help with steering

Nouhaila Lafram


The director of the INSU is helped by other directors (scientific, technical, industrial relations and administrative) to steer the Institut. He also relies on several authorities - the National Committee through its sections and commissions and the INSU scientific board, as well as specialized commissions of the INSU.


The National Committee for Scientific Research (CoNRS)

The collective authority of the CNRS is composed of the CNRS scientific board, the scientific boards of the Institutes, 41 thematic sections and 5 interdisciplinary commissions. The national committee for scientific research plays an essential role in French science. Its members contribute to the development of the scientific policy of the establishment. They analyze the current situation and perspectives, and participate in the recruitment and monitoring of researchers' careers. Finally, they play an important part in the activity of research units.

The INSU scientific board

The mission of the INSU scientific board is to advise and assist the Institute Director, by giving advice and recommendations about the pertinence and opportunities of the projects and activities of the Institute. It is responsible for drawing up a prospective report at the end of its term of office, especially from the economic reports established by the sections and interdisciplinary commissions of the national committee.
The INSU scientific committee meets at least twice a year.
Composition of the INSU scientific board

Composition of the INSU scientific board

The sections of the national committee that concern the INSU

The field of knowledge covered by the INSU is essentially represented by the following four sections of the national committee:

  • Section 17: Solar system and distant Universes
  • Section 18: Earth and the Terrestrial Planets: structure, history and models
  • Section 19: The Earth System: superficial envelopes
  • Section 30: Continental surface and interfaces

INSU specialized commissions

The 4 INSU specialized commissions are the skilled INSU organs for each of its 4 scientific fields.

Specialized commission for Astronomy-Astrophysics (CSAA)

The CSAA has several prerogatives:

  • the division of research credits that are attributed to it in the AA domain for research and development, additional credit appropriations, upgrading and commitments on new equipment or actions that do not fall under national programmes or specific calls to tender;
  • making proposals to the INSU management to label or unlabel national observation services, monitoring and assessment of these services;
  • the assessment, monitoring and setting up, or halting, of national programmes and specific actions;
  • the INSU AA domain prospective, in liaison with Section 17 of the CoNRS.

The CSAA is made up of members nominated by the INSU for five years, and of invited members representing national programmes, specific actions, the INSU management, the CNES and the MESRI (French Ministry of Higher Education, Research, and Innovation).
The CSAA meets twice a year, in the spring and autumn.

Composition of the CSAA

Specialized commission for Ocean-Atmosphere (CSOA)

The CSOA co-ordinates the prospective in the Ocean-Atmosphere field in liaison with section 19 of the CoNRS, the SCOA section of the CNAP and the scientific boards of national programmes in the field.
The CSOA proposes national observation services to the INSU management, along with instrumented sites, community numeric codes, and national instruments to label or unlabel in the OA domain, and ensures the monitoring and assessment of these services.
La CSOA statutes on additional credit appropriations, the upgrading and commitments of the organizations relative to equipment, or new/specific actions that are either not covered by national programmes or not co-ordinated by other bodies.
In session, or by the intermediary of its president, the CSOA manages all matters submitted to it by the INSU management or the scientific management of a partner organization.
The CSOA is approached for the assessment and monitoring of national programmes linked to the OA field, and it accompanies the thought processes of the OA scientific deputy management where files can profit from its expertise.

The CSOA is composed of members nominated for five years by the INSU and of permanent invited members who represent essentially the main partner organizations (CEA, CNES, Ifremer, IRD, Météo-France, and SHOM), the MESRI, MTES, national programmes (LEFE, PNTS and Ballon call), and the INSU management.
The CSOA usually meets twice a year, in plenary sessions lasting two days (spring and autumn), or more often if the workload and the agenda justify this.

Composition of the CSOA

Commission spécialisée Surfaces et interfaces continentales (CSSIC)

La CSSIC est l’organe d’expertise de l’INSU pour le domaine Surfaces et interfaces continentales. Elle dispose de plusieurs prérogatives :

  • la prospective du domaine Surfaces et interfaces cƒ  ontinentales de l’INSU et sa déclinaison en actions et outils ;
  • la proposition à la Direction de l’INSU des Services Nationaux d’Observation (SNO) à labelliser ou à délabelliser ainsi que le suivi et l’évaluation de ces services ;
  • l’évaluation et le suivi de l’Initiative Structurante EC2CO (Écosphère Continentale et Côtière) ; action programmatique nationale s’inscrivant dans le champ thématique de l’Alliance pour l’Environnement AllEnvi et soutenue, outre l’INSU qui coordonne le programme, par CNRS-InEE, CNRS-INC, ANDRA, BRGM, CNES, IFREMER, IRSTEA, IFSTTAR, IRD et Météo France / ( ;
  • la proposition à la Section CNAP SCOA des priorités de recrutement des postes CNAP en domaine SIC

La CSSIC est composée d’experts scientifiques nommé(e)s pour cinq ans par l’INSU et se réunit deux fois par an au printemps et à l’automne.

Composition de la CSSIC

Commission spécialisée Terre solide (CSTS)

La Commission Spécialisée Terre Solide est l’une des quatre commissions spécialisées de l’INSU. Elle est constituée de membres nommés pour cinq ans par l’INSU et de membres invités représentant les programmes nationaux, les actions spécifiques, des membres de la direction de l’INSU, les représentants de différents partenaires du domaine.

La CSTS est, de façon générale, l’organe d’expertise de l’INSU pour le domaine Terre Solide. Elle dispose de plusieurs prérogatives :

  • La répartition et l’attribution des crédits de recherche qui lui sont affectés sur le budget du domaine Terre Solide de l’INSU ;
  • L’évaluation, le suivi et la mise en place ou l’arrêt des programmes nationaux et actions spécifiques ;
  • L’évaluation de la pertinence scientifique des propositions des services nationaux d’observation à labelliser ou à délabelliser (le suivi et l’évaluation de ces services ainsi que leur labellisation ou délabellisation est du ressort de la CSNO Terre Interne) ;
  • La mise en place et le suivi d’actions en synergie avec les organismes partenaires ;
  • La veille et la prospective du domaine Terre Solide de l’INSU en lien avec la Section 18 du CoNRS.

La CSTS se réunit deux fois par an au printemps et à l’automne.

Composition de la CSTS