Original research structures

Like the other CNRS Institutes, the INSU shares the trusteeship of most of its research units with its academic partners. The originality of its organization is the grouping of its laboratories into Observatories of the sciences of the Universe which especially implement the national actions and services labelled by the Institute.

The INSU laboratories

Mixed research units

Most INSU research units are mixed research units (UMR), managed jointly by academic partners or other organizations. Within Universities, they are grouped into observatories of the sciences of the Universe (OSU) backed-up by mixed service units (UMS).

Research federations and service structures

Four research federations (FR), five UMS, and research and service units (USR) complete this organization on a national scale, especially with a role of co-ordinating the scientific strategy of several UMRs and supporting critical platforms whose perimeters transcend the local context.

International mixed units

Four international mixed units (UMI) ensure the development of long-term co-operation with foreign Universities and organizations.

The federating role of the observatories of the sciences of the Universe (OSU)

Status and Mission

The 27 OSUs are highly original territorial structures, and their main mission is "to organize the means needed to acquire observations of astronomical systems, or components of the Earth's system." Within Universityies, they have the status of an internal school or a large institution, and comprise mixed service units (UMS) that are steered in partnership by the CNRS, the University, and in several cases by other establishments or research organizations.

Interdisciplinarity and pooling of means

At the local level, in the long-term the OSUs implement national actions and observation services and favour interdisciplinary research. Especially, they simplify access to large research infrastructures and to experimental or digital platforms of regional or national interest.

List of the observatories of the sciences of the Universe (OSU)

National observation services (SNO)

Acquisition of data

Earth Sciences and Astronomy rely on the acquisition of data that describe the formation, evolution and variations in the astronomical systems and Earth environment. Thus, the INSU develops a specific strategy to answer scientific issues and associated societal challenges.

The SNOs label

The INSU creates and assesses the National observation services (SNOs) which implement observation systems and those of data acquisition over several years, or even several decades. These systems have a service vocation to the benefit of all the community and enable knowledge to progress about the formation, evolution and the variability of the systems studied.

The definition and recognition of the contents of SNOs and the quality of the observations accumulated are established following a process of labelling. This allows the implementation of the Institute's strategy, and the most efficient use possible of the resources.

National actions for observation

Since 2016, the SNOs have been grouped into "national actions for observation", in each of the large fields of research of the Institute to structure and steer this activity of systematic observation, and to bring it closer to the large national or international research infrastructures.

To find out more about the National observation services