Les observations, régulières et sur de longues périodes, sont au cœur des recherches visant à comprendre le fonctionnement et la modélisation des processus dans l’Univers et sur la Terre et les planètes. Elles représentent donc une activité incontournable et constitutive de la recherche.

Couvrant des domaines allant de du centre de la Terre aux étoiles, en passant par l’océan et l’atmosphère , le littoral, les sols et les rivières, les glaciers ou les volcans, un ensemble de services et d'outils permettent aux scientifiques de disposer de données ouvertes, fiables et régulières qui alimentent leurs recherches.

Data centres and poles


CDS : Strasbourg Astronomical Data Centre
The CDS collects astronomical data and associated information for worldwide distribution. It hosts the SIMBAD database for the identification of astronomical objects, the VizieR collection of catalogues and tables published in academic journals and Aladin, the interactive atlas of the sky. The CDS is a Research Infrastructure labelled by the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research (MESRI).

The other data processing, archiving and distribution centres are hosted by Centres d’Expertise Régionaux (Regional Expertise Centres) which manage the development and operational maintenance of these within the OSUs (Observatories of sciences of the Universe)

GSO Data Centre (in French)
The GSO Data Centre (French south-west region) brings together national services hosted at the OMP: CADE which provides a set of data and tools for the analysis of extended data from major earth or space sampling; CASSIS  spectral data analysis software programme used for astronomical and laboratory data; CDPP whose mission is to preserve, disseminate and promote data from experiments with French participation in the field of natural plasma physics; PolarBase, a database of high resolution spectropolarimetric stellar observations; STORMS which provides a set of services dedicated to the study of Sun-Earth relations and XMM-Newton whose objective is to maximize the scientific results deriving from the XMM-Newton satellite by constructing an in-depth portrait of the sky in the X field.
The centre also includes KIDA, a database of kinetic data of interest for astrochemical (interstellar medium and planetary atmospheres) studies which is under the responsibility of the OASU (Aquitaine Observatory of Sciences of the Universe) and POLLUX, a stellar synthetic spectra database under the responsibility of OREME.

OCA Data Centre (DOMINO) (in French)
At the Côte d'Azur Observatory, DOMINO hosts MP3C, a database of the physical and dynamic properties of asteroids and SUV, a support service for users of second generation VLTI instrumentation.

OSUG Data Centre (in French)
For astronomy, the OSUG Data Centre manages MOIO which creates and provides support and maintenance for software necessary for the optimal use of optical interferometres which are openly available for the community, SPHERE-DC (in French), a centre which responds to requests for processing data from the SPHERE instrument installed on the VLT and SSHADE-F-GhoSST, an interoperable solid spectroscopy database infrastructure which includes the Grenoble GhoSST database.
OSUPS Data Centre (IDOC-ANO5).

OSUPS Data Centre (IDOC-ANO5)
The OSUPS Data Centre is in charge of the following national observation services – DustEM which provides tools to model the emission of interstellar dust grains in our Galaxy and exterior galaxies; Grandes Longueurs d’Onde - IDOC which provides long wavelength data from various space instruments and associated processing and dissemination tools; MEDOC (Multi Experiment Data & Operation Centre) which provides space solar physics data with a set of high-performance services and tools and PSuP, a planetary surfaces data processing centre twinned with a data dissemination and visualization centre.

Paris Astronomical Data Centre (PADC)
In the framework of the Virtual Observatory (VO), PADC provides access to services hosted by the Paris Observatory – APIS, a database containing spectro-imaging auroral observations of giant planets; BASECOL which provides data about the collisional ro-vibrational excitation of different molecules; BASS2000-OP qwhich provides images of the entire Sun taken from the ground; the Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia which gathers information on the known exoplanets and associated stars and provides different analysis tools; the ISM Platform and Jets, a set of services to prepare and interpret observations of galactic and extragalactic molecular gas using large-scale instrumentation; F-VAMDC which provides the international community with a vast set of atomic and molecular data; VESPA, a unified portal for access to databases for the study of the Solar System including a high-performance data-mining and visualization system and finally VO Solar System Objects Portal, a set of services and databases dedicated to bodies in the solar system in the framework of the Virtual Observatory.

Pytheas Data Centre (CeSAM) (in French)
CeSAM brings together the work carried out at the Pytheas OSU (Observatory for Sciences of the Universe) in processing, analysis, archiving and dissemination of data from large-scale extragalactic observation programmes. It runs the ASPIC services which provide tools and added value for data from massive spectroscopic/photometric programmes studying strategic zones of the sky and GAZPAR which provides tools for the measurement of photometric and spectroscopic redshifts as well as physical parameters deduced from spectral power distributions (SED).

Besançon Model of the Galaxy
This service is proposed by the THETA OSU and it works on developing software to create, validate and make data available on simulations of the contents of the Galaxy's stars via a web service and using a digital model.

Solid Earth

  • Form@Terre: the Earth's form and movements
    The aim of the ForM@Ter project is to study the creation of future national data portal dedicated to the observation of the Solid Earth.


The Ocean-Atmosphere field is made up of two data centres:

    The overall objective of this Atmosphere and Service Data Centre is to facilitate, promote and disseminate the use of atmospheric data from satellites, ground, airplanes and balloons. It is made up of the following 4 data centres:
    • ESPRI: This a Centre for Data and Services for research at the IPSL (Institut Pierre Simon Laplace).
      It is dedicated to atmospheric chemistry on both the national and international scales. Its ambition is to provide a resource and coordination centre with an access portal for all atmospheric chemistry data.
    • ICARE: Cloud-Aerosol-Water-Radiation Interactions
      The objective of this data centre is to facilitate the study of clouds, atmospheric aerosols, radiation, the atmospheric water cycle and the processes that link these elements. To achieve this, the centre provides satellite databases for scientific users.
    • SATMOS: Service for Archiving and Processing
      This data centre archives, maintains and makes data available from meteorological or environmental satellites and products derived from this data for use in scientific research by interested users.
    • SEDOO: the Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées Data Service
      This data centre develops management, processing and dissemination applications for scientific environmental data.
  • ODATIS: Ocean Data Information and Services
    Odatis is the sole entry point for access to all French Ocean observation data. It is made up of the two following data and services centres:

Continental surfaces and interfaces


This data and services pole facilitates the use of images from space observation of continental surfaces.

The national observation services (SNO)

Since the 1990s, the INSU has established a labelling process concerning national and often international research support services.

Since 2016, the strategy and structuring of the INSU relative to "National Observation Services" (SNOs), as well as the main principles associated with them, have been described in a context report which reiterates the fact that the SNOs are labelled by the INSU management to answer the needs of long-term documenting of training, evolution, variability of astronomical systems and Earth media, and to encourage progress of knowledge in these fields. It also serves as a reminder that the SNOs have the vocation to provide a service to the scientific community. The decisions to create new SNOs, and to renew, disband or support the evolution of existing SNOs are taken by the INSU management after scientific evaluation by specialized commissions in each of the INSU fields (CSAA, CSOA, CSSIC, CSNO of the TS field).

The INSU has now grouped the SNOs within a collection of "National Actions for Observation" (ANO), with the goal of structuring and steering. This regrouping into an ANO allows the INSU to display a structuring logic that is linked to other national (SOERE, IR and TGIR of the Research Ministry) or international (ESFRI or international organisms) actions, which exist already or are in preparation. These must also enable aims and skills to be shared more effectively between SNOs working in the same field.


Astronomy is structured around national or international means that support scientific research in the different fields of the discipline and are accessible to the French scientific community. The activities that are labelled in the context of service missions in Astronomy cover the construction and operation of instruments and substantial observation and astronomical monitoring resources; production, distribution and maintenance of software; production of large surveys, observational or simulation data; the development of data archiving, and distribution tools, as well as tools for interrogation and manipulation of large bases of heterogeneous data. These service missions, divided into a set of instrumental means, centres of processing and archiving, or national thematic centres, are organized as six National Observation Action Plans (ANO).

ANO-1: Metrology of space and time

The aim of this National Observation Action Plan is to set up and maintain spatial-temporal landmarks. This traditional task of astronomy relies on contractual activities vis-à-vis the State and international agreements with the International Astronomical Union and the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics. This National Observation Action Plan has a strong societal reach and is upstream of virtually any astronomical observation. Apart from the development, use and maintenance of instruments, the management and analysis of data, this ANO includes:

  • Carrying out and making units of time, the second and French time available
  • The development of Earthly and celestial reference systems and their connection that allows the measurement and study of the Earth's rotation
  • The publication of astrometric and ephemeris data
  • Spatial geodesy, through the establishment of a vertical reference system

ANO-2: Instrumentation of large observatories on the ground and in space

This National Observation Action concerns the OSU capacity to design and manage projects, implement and ensure the operation of instruments (particularly focal ones) for ground-based research infrastructures and space missions that provide data that is accessible to the whole community. These are heavy resources, open to the entire French community. They have a strong international visibility, and their data is rapidly made public. ANO-2 also relates to the provision of software acquisition and the reduction of data. This National Observation Action is structured into two parts:

  • Instrumentation of telescopes, probes and space observatories
  • Instrumentation of large telescopes and ground interferometers

ANO-3: Observation stations

Astronomers have major national or international resources at their disposal, for which the management is often demanding, and there is no direct return in terms of publications. To recognize the contribution of this service to the community, the project includes:

  • Management of the observation stations
  • Their own instrumental activities
  • The operation of instruments after putting them into service
  • Upstream actions aimed at the qualification and protection of existing and future observation sites, in all spectral windows (optical, radio)

ANO-4: Large-scale surveys, deep probing, and long-term monitoring and support

Large surveys are one of the main sources of data bases in astronomy. This National Observation Action covers the definition and conduct of major observational programmes of an international scale aimed at mapping the sky in different spectral domains, the temporal tracking of objects over long time scales, and the systematic observation of populations of objects. The activities concerned cover the initial preparation, definition, completion of the actual survey, data reduction, archiving and final dissemination. Making the data available to the community in a systematic manner, as rapidly as possible, is the mission of this National observation action.

ANO-5: Centres of data processing, archiving and dissemination

The large ground or space astronomical observatories provide large volumes of data that is made public after a short period of exclusivity. This rapid dissemination to the whole of the community aims to maximize the scientific return of heavy investments. This ANO covers three types of activity – the processing, archiving, and dissemination of data within dedicated structures that possess the necessary expertise and resources. To develop observations, the community may need reference data derived from theoretical calculations, experiments or simulations accompanied by tools needed for their exploitation. The needs may also concern access to digital reference codes.

ANO-6: Monitoring the sun and the Earth's space environment

In the solar wind or the ionized environment of the Earth, Near Earth Objects (NEO) and orbiting debris, along with phenomena produced at the Sun's surface, are likely to affect the performance and reliability of Earth and space devices and systems. This puts human lives or health into danger. Their operational forecasting and systematic monitoring constitute the mission of this ANO which, apart from its societal aspects, has major scientific spin offs, especially those pertaining to the understanding of solar cycles, the physics of relationships between the heliosphere and the Earth, and the dynamics of the spacial environment of the Earth. In addition, long-term monitoring supplies data needed to explore other relationships between the Sun and the Earth, for example such as the potential contribution of the Sun's activity to climate evolution.

Solid Earth

A fundamental aim of research in Earth Sciences is to understand the internal workings of the planet. This generates societal spin offs in terms of risk estimation (natural and anthropic), resource management, and sustainable development. This research relies on perennial physical and chemical observations concerning the natural medium, and they are usually impossible to reproduce in the laboratory. The rarity and brevity of certain phenomena (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions) and the need to continually record certain variables (magnetic and gravimetric fields, chemical composition of water or volcanic systems) over long periods of time confers a specific character on the Earth Science observation systems. The Solid Earth observatories have three kinds of mission:
- Measurement, archiving and study of physical and chemical parameters of Solid Earth
- Understanding and observation of natural and anthropic uncertainties in Solid Earth. Assistance in management of resources and waste products
- An information mission concerning certain hazards (volcanic and seismologic), with the authorities in charge of the management of natural risks

  • ANO-1: Volcanology
  • ANO-2: Seismology
  • ANO-3: Geodesy and Gravimetric Analysis
  • ANO-4: Magnetism
  • ANO-5: Slope instabilities


During recent decades, an international strategy has been established to acquire the data needed for the description of the overall climate system, to analyse the major processes involved and to quantify their role. In this context, certain observations recur in the long-term, more or less frequently. These have become necessary for the study of the dynamics of processes, often with a regional or global vision, but also with a local one. These series of long-term data are acquired by the INSU thanks to National Observation Services destined for the measurement of a limited number of oceanic or atmospheric parameters, as well as the National Instrumented Sites, which group together a wide variety of instruments and atmospheric measurements on a single site. Furthermore, the importance of digital modelling in research has led the INSU to support a limited number of numeric codes of a communal vocation, with the aim of allowing them to remain at the highest level of international competition.

  • ANO-1: Services of monitoring of the atmosphere
  • ANO-2: Services of observation of the ocean
  • ANO-3: Communal digital codes
  • ANO-4: Processing and data archiving
  • ANO-5: National observation sites

Continental surfaces and interfaces

Man's actions are having increasingly serious effects on his environment resulting in problems of transformations, and the vulnerability of the latter under the effects of growing and diversified anthropic pressures. In return, they cause new risks that have to be correctly informed and evaluated to better establish scientifically prevention and remediation policies. The complexity and inertia of the systems considered, together with the strong spatial and temporal variability of climatic and anthropogenic forcings require the long-term acquisition of reliable and spatialized data. This allows the identification of evolutionary trends, the detection of breaks in equilibrium, the capture of exceptional, rare phenomena and ultimately a better understanding and modelling of the different processes involved. One specific aspect of Continental Surfaces and Interfaces concerns the complementary long-term experimental notion that leads to "the manipulation" of certain environmental factors and/or means of occupation of space and exploitation of resources. The fields concerned here are those of the continental biosphere, the pedosphere, the hydrosphere, and their interfaces with the atmosphere and the coastal marine milieu.

  • ANO-1: Critical zone in continental waters
  • ANO-2: Agroecosystems, Biogeochemical Cycles and Biodiversity
  • ANO-3: Coastal and Littoral

Campagnes et missions

Il est parfois indispensable d’explorer de manière ponctuelle des zones particulières et/ou peu accessibles, soit en s’y rendant soit en y envoyant des sondes. Les scientifiques des laboratoires de l’INSU écument les océans des plus cléments aux plus tumultueux, instrumentent les sondes qui partiront vers Mars, Vénus ou Jupiter, organisent des campagnes aéroportées en ballon, drones ou avions ou participent à des raids en Antarctique. Les moissons de données de ces campagnes et missions en tout genre alimentent l’ensemble de la communauté.

Retrouvez ici l'actualité de ces campagnes et missions !

Magic 2021

Pour la quatrième mission de l’initiative Magic, lancée en 2017, les scientifiques vont se rendre au-delà du cercle arctique. Dans cette région qui se réchauffe deux fois plus vite que le reste du globe, ils étudieront la répartition atmosphérique des gaz à effet de serre grâce à des instruments au sol, des ballons et des avions de recherche.
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Du 6 au 25 septembre 2021, la campagne CADDIWA va étudier les interactions entre les orages générés au-dessus de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, les ondes tropicales de l’atmosphère et les panaches de poussière désertique, au-dessus de l'océan Atlantique. Elle embarque, pour cela, tout un panel d'instruments à bord de l’avion de recherche Falcon 20 du réseau SAFIRE.

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