Dr. Thomas Widemann
Paris Observatory, France

Dr. Thomas Widemann, born 1961, is a Staff Scientist at Paris Observatory’s Laboratory of Space and Instrumentation Studies (LESIA) and Senior Associate Professor at University Versailles Saint-Quentin, a branch of Université Paris-Saclay, France. He has three decades of experience in Planetary sciences & atmospheric studies using UV, visible, and infrared spectroscopy.

To study the climate and dynamics of planetary atmospheres, Dr. Widemann developed outstanding techniques combining simultaneous space and ground-based observations, to provide absolute wind measurements and circulation regimes in planetary atmospheres. He demonstrated that observed cloud motions track actual, instantaneous winds, allowing to test atmospheric global circulation models using high resolution visible and IR spectroscopy. Dr. Widemann also led major advancements in planetary sciences through stellar occultation campaigns, such as establishing an upper limit on Uranian moon Titania’s atmosphere and oblateness, and contributing to the discovery of rings around centaur Chariklo.

Dr Widemann’s career achievements have been the basis for international support from ground-based observers to ESA’s Venus Express mission. He led a 2.2M€ European Union grant in support of ESA’s Venus Express PI institutes. He is member of the VERITAS Science Team led by Dr. Sue Smrekar of NASA/Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. VERITAS is the newly selected NASA/Discovery orbiter mission to Venus expected to be launched in 2027. Dr. Widemann is also lead Scientist of EnVision, recently selected as European Space Agency (ESA)’s newest medium-class science mission in its Cosmic Vision program. As a key partner in the mission, NASA provides EnVision’s Synthetic Aperture Radar, VenSAR. 

Dr. Widemann is a highly recognized academic and outreach lecturer in Europe on Venus exploration and the history of sciences. Beyond teaching thousands over the years, he has advised several international PhD students and served on ESA and EU programs promoting international collaboration and science education.


  • HDR—Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches, University Versailles-St-Quentin, 2000
  • Paris Observatory—Ph.D., Astrophysics & Space Science, 1991
  • Orsay/Paris-11 University, France—M.S., Physics, 1985
  • Lycée Henri IV, Paris, France.

Contribution to space exploration projects

  • 2019-present: Science Team co-Investigator, NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory VERITAS Venus orbiter proposal in response to NASA 2019 Discovery Program Announcement of Opportunity (AO)
  • 2016-2021: Deputy Lead Scientist & Programme Manager, M5/EnVision Venus orbiter mission proposal studied in collaboration with NASA.
  • 2017: Science Team co-Investigator, NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory Venus Origins eXploration (VOX) New Frontiers Venus orbiter proposal in response to New Frontiers 4 AO
  • 2015-2017: Science Advisory Board, Venus Atmospheric Maneuverable Platform, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, CA 90278, USA
  • 2015- 2016: Science Team co-Investigator, NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory VERITAS Discovery Venus Orbiter proposal in response to NASA Discovery 2014 Announcement of Opportunity (AO), which completed Phase A study in 2016.
  • 2013-2015: ESA-appointed expert on Atmospheric science data archive users community, Planetary Science Archive User Group, ESA
  • 2010-2015: ESA-appointed Support Investigator (S.I.) for coordinated ground-based telescope observations with ESA/Venus Express orbiter mission

Current research, higher education & heritage management and functions

Past research, higher education & heritage management and functions

  • 2017-2018: Directeur du Département de Lettres, Institut d’Etudes Culturelles Internationales, Université de Versailles-Saint-Quentin.
  • 2017: Comité scientifique, exposition Globes, Architecture & Sciences explorent le monde, Nov. 2017 – Mars 2018, Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine, Paris.
  • 2013-2016: EuroVenus Project Coordinator, European Union Research Agency G.A. 606798 Project coordinator for the exploitation of ESA/Venus Express data in France, UK, Portugal, Germany and Belgium, 2.18M€
  • 2013-2014: Commission franco-américaine, Jury selection member, Chaire d’excellence Fulbright-Tocqueville 2012-2014 : France-Amérique : bourses de la Commission franco-américaine (Fulbright scholar Program)
  • 2011-2013: French PI, Hubert-Curien PESSOA program, France-Portugal on studying the atmosphere of Venus
  • 2010-2012: French PI, Hubert-Curien SAKURA program, France-Japan coordination on Earth-based and Space observations of the atmosphere of Venus
  • 2007-2010: Project coordinator, Sciences et Pouvoir : le prince et le savant dans les cours européennes aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles, Centre de Recherche du Château de Versailles (CRCV)


  • Asteroid (20606) Widemann has been named by the International Astronomical Union in honor of Dr. Widemann (2008). Where is (20606) Widemann?
  • George Bidault-de-l’Isle Prize, Société Astronomique de France (1981).

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