The aim of UnivEarthS is to combine the scientific expertise, technical know how, experience in space experiments, and human resources of three research institutes, all international leaders in their disciplinary field, in order to develop original interdisciplinary research projects. Their expertise includes Earth and environmental sciences (IPGP), planetary sciences (IPGP, AIM), high energy astrophysics (AIM, APC), cosmology and fundamental physics (APC).
The project is designed to set up a unique high-level teaching and training platform in the sciences of the Universe, to achieve efficient technology transfer between the partners as well as towards other institutes and industry, and to develop novel outreach initiatives.
The UnivEarthS project revolves around the general theme of “Evolution, Catastrophes and Emergence”: how do natural systems of various scales form and evolve into self-organized dynamic structures, what are the catastrophic events that cause dramatic shifts in evolution, when and how did new processes and mechanisms appear ? Such questions arise when dealing with the primordial Universe, the organization of small to large scale structures in the Universe, violent phenomena associated with stellar explosions and black holes, the development of planetary systems, the differentiation and dynamics of the proto-Earth, the origin and early growth of Life, as well as the study of geological and astronomical catastrophes (volcanic eruptions, planetary-quakes, planetary collisions).
Variability and heterogeneity are ubiquitous features of the Universe structure and evolution, and catastrophic events impact the evolution of all natural objects regardless of their dimensions, from galaxy clusters down to stars and planets. Whilst the past decades have opened windows into the sky across the whole radiation spectrum, from radio waves to gamma rays, the next decades will open time windows into transient sources, bursts and flares over a large range of time scales. Large international sky-survey instruments are being prepared and we need to harness new precision technologies and analysis methods to detect and examine variability in huge real time or near-real time data flows and to identify transient sources.
UnivEarthS invests in algorithmic and analysis developments to actively participate to the international effort to prepare for this new time frontier. Initiatives involving several institutes are implemented :
UnivEarthS supports the Paris Centre for Cosmological Physics (PCCP). This Centre is a place for research, education and exchange on the physics of the Universe. The project has been established under the leadership of George F. Smoot, Nobel Prize in physics in 2006, recruited as a professor at the University Paris Diderot in February 2010. Noting the remarkable concentration of laboratories working in Paris at the highest international level in the field of cosmology, George Smoot has decided to create this centre in order to develop synergies between these laboratories (which include APC, LUTh and GEPI) and to enhance the attractiveness of Paris in this scientific field dealing with key issues such as the origin of matter, the structure of space and time. The goals of PCCP are similar to those seeked by the Labex: attract senior researchers at the best international level, develop a high visibility program of PCCP postdoctoral fellows, foster the awareness of teachers, students and the general public on fundamental issues, develop a global approach to private funding for fundamental research.
Special effort are made to provide information on the UnivEarthS education programs and individual attention to candidates. Specific resources are allocated to a “welcome package” program for foreign master and doctoral students in order to help them with travel expenses, housing funding, and French courses. The partners of UnivEarthS supports the development of new education and public outreach tools based on teleconferences, video clips, and smartphones to illustrate science in motion in their disciplines, to interact with high-school teachers across France, and to help attract young people to science and engineering studies.
The UnivEarthS project intends to break the barriers that have hampered research cooperations and technology transfers between different Earth, Planetary and Universe Science Institutes in Paris. Two laboratories of the Observatoire de Paris, LUTh and GEPI, the Laboratory of Cosmochemistry of the Museum, the Laboratory of Geodesy of the Institut Géographique National (Lareg), as well as the Institut de Mécanique Céleste et de Calul des Ephemerides (IMCCE) are associated with this project and are represented in the Labex’s scientific committee.
The partners of UnivEarthS are members of the Université Sorbonne Paris Cité Consortium. They benefit from the Technology Transfer Bureau (SATT) of this Consortium and from the François Arago Computation Center.