Europlanet History

Europlanet links research institutions and companies active in planetary research in Europe and around the world. Planetary science covers the study of our solar system and those around other stars. It is an interdisciplinary field of research that covers astronomy and geophysics, robotic and human exploration of other planets, as well as the search for extra-terrestrial life.

Since 2005, Europlanet has provided Europe’s planetary science community with a platform to:

  • exchange ideas and personnel
  • share research tools, data and facilities
  • define key science goals for the future
  • engage stakeholders, policy makers and European Citizens with planetary science.

The Europlanet 2020 Research Infrastructure (RI) is a €9.95 million project funded by the European Commission under Horizon 2020. The project launched on 1st September 2015 and will run until 31 August 2019.

Formation and evolution

Europlanet emerged from the collaboration between scientists involved in the Cassini-Huygens mission. Its primary aim is to overcome fragmentation and to share resources in Europe’s planetary science community.

Europe boasts one of the largest international communities of planetary scientists, with over 800 tenured academics and around 3000-4000 young researchers in more than 200 research groups/institutions, spread across nearly all Europe’s national states. Unlike other space agencies, which have responsibility for both space missions and the supporting the scientific communities, the European Space Agency is only responsible for building and operating the missions. Europe’s scientific community is supported by the national states and individual institutions, each with their own funding regimes and requirements. Fragmentation is, thus, a particular challenged in Europe. Since its foundation, Europlanet has forged a considerable degree of cohesion and unity of purpose amongst Europe’s planetary scientists.

2013-2018 – Europlanet Consortium

The Europlanet Consortium was a collegial organisation, linked by the Memorandum of Understanding, for research institutions and companies involved in planetary science, that agreed to cooperate on an informal and mutually beneficial basis.

2008-2012 – Europlanet Research Infrastructure

Europlanet received €6 million under Framework 7’s Integrated Infrastructure Initiative programme to develop a distributed Research Infrastructure (RI). Europlanet RI (http://www.europlanet-ri.eu) enabled European researchers to access state-of-the-art laboratory facilities, planetary analogue field sites and virtual access facilities. It developed new tools and infrastructure, and consolidated the community through meetings, workshops and the sharing of resources, ideas, data and personnel.

2005-2009 – European Planetology Network (EuroPlaNet) Coordination Action

EuroPlaNet received €2 million under Framework 6 for networking activities to build a strong community for European planetary science through meetings and workshops, identify science goals, develop synergies between space missions and ground-based observations and lay the foundations for a Virtual Planetary Observatory.