Join the 2024 GMAP Geology and Planetary Mapping Winter School!

Join the 2024 GMAP Geology and Planetary Mapping Winter School!

The GMAP Geology and Planetary Mapping Winter School is an exciting opportunity to delve into planetary geological mapping with guidance from experienced scientists. The Winter School is led by GMAP, Europlanet’s geological mapping activity.

Building upon earlier editions targeting Mars, the Moon, and Mercury, the 2024 Winter School will cover exemplary geologic mapping aspects on VenusIcy Satellites and Small Bodies.

The Winter School will be largely hands-on, with the inclusion of seminars and time for asynchronous interaction and individual/project mapping work. Topics covered include: Basemap resources, QGIS project creation, and practical experience of map crafting.

The school will run synchronously in the week 22-26 January 2024, and asynchronously on the Streavent platform for the following month (February 2024). As usual, materials will be freely available after the school, for interested parties, to learn individually at their own pace.

Each body of interest will be introduced, hands-on activities will be described, and participants will be guided through the task, i.e. individual completion of a small mapping area. At the end of each day, specific time slots are dedicated to seminars, which will provide insights, perspectives and additional knowledge on related topics.

After the synchronous and asynchronous phases of the School, no dedicated support will be provided, but any interested party is welcome to participate to the monthly GMAP calls, as well as to join the GMAP Discord server for discussion and support.

Find out more

Supporting UK and Hungarian Industry Collaborations

Supporting UK and Hungarian Industry Collaborations

Two overarching objectives of Europlanet are to foster industry-academic collaboration and to widen participation from under-represented states in Europe and around the world. Last week, there were opportunities to support both these aims at the UK Space Conference in Belfast and an event at the Hungarian Embassy in London.

At the UK Space Conference from 21-23 November, Europlanet shared a stand with the Hungarian Space Cluster (Hunspace). Over the course of the meeting, we met with many members of the UK and international community, in particular with early career researchers. We were particularly delighted to meet and take part in discussion sessions with the space clusters that represent the different space communities across the UK. Plenary sessions featured discussions on exploration of our Solar Ssytem and the technical challenges involved.

On Friday 24 November, we were privileged to be hosted by the Hungarian Embassy in London for a meeting of the UK and Hungarian Space Communities. We were welcomed by Orsolya Ferencz, Ministerial Commissioner  Hungarian  Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and by the Hungarian Ambassador to London, Ferenc Kumin. Nigel Mason (Europlanet 2024 RI Coordinator) and Zsolt Fulop (Chair of the research infrastructure committee in Hungary) kicked off proceedings. Tomas Barzy (Admatis) gave an overview of the Hunspace cluster’s membership, remit and history. Presentations by Hungarian and UK space industry and organisations were followed by a round-table discussion. Many thanks to Gábor Takács-Carvalho and all the team at the Hungarian Embassy for their hospitality.

Full reports on both events will be published soon.

Europlanet at Space Tech Expo Europe

Europlanet at Space Tech Expo Europe

The Europlanet Society participated for the first time in the Space Tech Expo Europe, which took place in Germany (Bremen) between 14-16 November 2023. Attending the event provided an opportunity not only to strengthen the Society’s presence on the European space scene, but also to highlight its commitment to innovation and technological development in the planetary exploration sector.

During the event, Europlanet organized eleven business-to-business sessions, and eighty-one presentations at the stand to share know-how with participants. The Society also took the opportunity to unveil its new sustainability project (Europlanet Association), as well as to showcase its achievements, share knowledge and establish strategic partnerships with other key players in the space industry.

Europlanet’s presence at the Space Tech Expo Europe in Bremen was a great success, highlighting the society’s continued commitment to planetology exploration, exploitation and space innovation. This participation marks the start of a new era for Europlanet, opening the way to new opportunities, partnerships and achievements in the field of European planetology exploration and beyond.

Meet the New Board Members of the Europlanet Society

Meet the New Board Members of the Europlanet Society

The results of the elections of the Europlanet Society Executive Board were announced at the Europlanet General Assembly on Friday, 10 November. Eight new members of the Board were elected including a Vice-President, two Secretaries (co-position) and five new Board Members.

They join Ann Carine Vandaele, who takes up the mantle of President following her year as President-Elect (elected 2022), Treasurer Didier Moreau (elected 2021) and Vice President Angelo Pio Rossi (elected 2019 with a one year extended term to ensure that the turn-over of the Board is staggered).

Find out about their objectives and what they hope to achieve by serving on the Board of the Europlanet Society over the next four years.

Vice President

Stravro Ivanovski

Stavro Ivanovski, Europlanet Society Vice President
Stavro Ivanovski, Vice-President (2023-2027)

The birth of the Europlanet Society has been followed by the establishment of a Society with long-term activities and values based on inclusiveness, high quality science and outreach, and a sustainable structure open to planetary scientists, amateurs and industry. From my perspective, the Society is not only an idea and platform that represents and connects planetary scientists and enthusiasts, but it is much more – a space driven by sharing ideas, paving apath for early-career scientists and building a self-functioning scientific forum seeking for new (financial) opportunities to address today’s planetary paradigms.

I am a researcher at INAF – Astronomical Observatory of Trieste and Adjunct Professor at the University of Trieste. My research focuses on small bodies and planetary magnetospheres in the Solar System. I am involved in various planetary ESA and NASA missions (e.g. DART/LICIACube, Rosetta, BepiColombo, Comet Interceptor, Hera, Ariel). As a graduated actor with theatre experience, I have a strong commitment to public engagement and outreach as well.

I joined Europlanet in 2017 through its research infrastructure project and since then I have been closely connected with Europlanet. Since 2020, I have acted as the Co-Chair of the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) Scientific Organising Committee (SOC). I am serving as the Chair of Italian Europlanet Regional Hub. Also, while chairing the EPSC Outreach in 2020, I was one of the creators of the “InspiredByOtherWorlds” art contest that invites everybody to submit all kinds of artworks inspired by planetary science. Furthermore, my experience within Europlanet includes leading the Machine Learning Work Package and acting as the INAF deputy within the Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) project.

As Vice-President, I will dedicate my efforts:

  • to maintain the high level scientific content of EPSC and related activities; to strengthen the position of the Society in different countries, for example, Italy and under-represented country such as Balkan countries; 
  • to disseminate all current and future outreach initiatives; to improve the integration and visibility of Society within other scientific communities like astrochemistry and Origins of Life; 
  • last, but not least, to investigate the modern Artificial Intelligence techniques to support the Europlanet Society activities.

Secretary – Co-position

Federica Duras

Federica Duras, Europlanet Society Secretary
Federica Duras, Secretary (2023-2027)

As leader of the Outreach Working Group and as outreach officer in the Italian hub, I am thrilled to apply for the position of Secretary. This pivotal moment in Europlanet Society’s journey presents an exciting opportunity for fresh perspectives and new enthusiasm. In my role as the head of the Outreach Working Group, I have honed my organisational skills, ensuring seamless communication and collaboration among the team and among diverse teams. I could summarise my objectives for the Europlanet Society as follows:

  • Continue enhancing the Europlanet communication channels on a larger scale, fostering an interconnected Europlanet community with transparent information dissemination.
  • Building upon the success of the Outreach Working Group activities in the past years, I aspire to amplify Europlanet’s outreach efforts. This involves using modern communication tools and social media and exploring innovative ways to connect with a wider audience.
  • Strengthen the sense of unity and involvement within the Europlanet family. As I believe in the power of collective action, I am firmly convinced that through collaborative projects and shared initiatives we can engage our community also in this transition phase.

Edita Stonkute 

Edita Stonkute, Europlanet Society Secretary.
Edita Stonkute, Secretary (2023-2027)

I am working at the Institute of Theoretical Physics and Astronomy of Vilnius University in Vilnius, Lithuania as a senior researcher and an associate professor. My scientific interests are focused on detailed chemical composition studies of Galactic stars (including planet-hosts) using high-resolution spectra. I am a member of the Lithuanian Astronomical Society, the European Astronomical Society, the International Astronomical Union and Europlanet Society.

Here, at Europlanet I’m responsible for coordinating the Mentoring programme. I hope my dedicated time and work to the Society will be valuable and I would like to be nominated as a Secretary.

Board Members

Julia de León

Julia de Leon, Europlanet Society Board Member
Julia de Leon, Board Member (2023-2027)

I am a planetary scientist with 20 years of experience in the field. My main interest is the near-Earth asteroid population (NEAs) and its physical, compositional and dynamical properties. As a consequence, my work has been strongly connected to planetary defense. I am mainly an observational researcher, working with both ground-based and space-based data. I have recently been part of the EU project NEOROCKS, focused in the characterisation of NEAs and with the participation of 14 European institutions. In addition, I have participated in at least two observational campaigns to study potentially hazardous asteroids, coordinated by the International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN). Finally, I am/have been actively involved in several space missions to visit and study asteroids and other minor bodies (Rosetta, OSIRIS-REx, Hayabusa2, DART, Hera, MMX, DESTINY+, Lucy), led by the main space agencies (ESA, NASA, JAXA).

 All this overall research experience has intensified my personal conviction that planetary science is a collaborative activity, and that it evolves and improves thanks to all this global collaborative effort. I would be honored to serve on the Executive Board of the Europlanet Society. This is an experienced, diverse, large, and strong society with a solid base in Europe but a global view. I will put all my gained experience in international collaborations at the service of the European planetary science community to enhance and promote global collaboration.

Livia Giacomini

Livia Giacomini, Europlanet Society Executive Board Member
Livia Giacomini, Board Member (2019-2023, 2023-2027)

Over the past years on the Executive Board, I’ve had the privilege to actively contribute to our Society’s activities, focusing on education, communication and policy initiatives. As I seek to continue my journey with Europlanet, my vision is to strengthen Europlanet visibility, working for its sustainability in the long term, strengthening our ties with international entities and finding ways to make the Society grow. I would also ensure that Europlanet remains at the forefront of innovation in education of planetary science and in the broader scientific domain. As the editor-in-chief of astroEDU, the IAU platform for peer reviewed educational activities, I believe I have valuable experiences and connections to pursue this objective for our Society. I am dedicated to serving as a bridge, connecting our history with the future that the community envisions.

Melissa Mirino

Melissa Mirino, Europlanet Society Board Member.
Melissa Mirino, Board Member (2023-2027)

I am currently the Co-Chair of the Europlanet Early Career Network, and I have been previously involved with Europlanet by managing the EPEC Communication WG. As such, I have been very active on committee matters. During my involvement with the organization, I have been always active in supporting Early Careers by organizing and managing activities such as the “EPEC Profiles”, the “#PlanetaryScience4All video contest” and the EPEC Podcast “Stairway to Space” to allow the young professionals to showcase their contribution within the field of Planetary Science. Additionally, I have supported many other activities (Outreach, Annual Weeks, Europlanet Magazine, EPSC, EPEC annual report) by collaborating with the Europlanet communication team.

My objectives would be:

  1. rebuild the existing EPEC structure to make it a long-lasting organisation within Europlanet that supports early careers from any background,
  2. to be a direct link between the Early Careers who join our Network and the Europlanet Board, by representing their interests and needs into our Society. I strongly believe that the direct presence of an Early Career among the Europlanet Board Members would largely benefit Europlanet by hearing the Early Career voice.

Leigh Fletcher

Leigh Fletcher, Europlanet Society Executive Board Member
Leigh Fletcher, Board Member (2019-2023, 2023-2027)

I am a Professor of Planetary Science at the University of Leicester, specialising in the exploration of Giant Planet systems via a combination of ground-based observations, space telescopes, and visiting planetary spacecraft. I have been a member of the Europlanet community since the mid-2000s, and have always delighted in the opportunity offered by EPSC to meet with like-minded European planetary scientists. We have a thriving and diverse community, spanning the whole portfolio of planetary science, and the Europlanet Society provides a voice to our members, both across Europe and with the wider international community. It has been a pleasure to serve on the Board, and be a member of the Europlanet team, for the past four years. This experience has given me an insight into how the Society works, the key challenges it faces, and the opportunities that await in the years to come. The EPSC meetings are my topmost priority, being the premier networking and collaborative meeting for European planetary scientists. We should ensure these are held annually in Europe as a service to our community; costs are kept manageable to ensure wider representation; locations are kept accessible via public transportation with minimal carbon footprints; and virtual capabilities are maintained to improve access for those who may be unable to travel. We should continue to provide resources to our Early Career Network, particularly to enable exchanges of ideas and capabilities so that no one ever works in isolation. We should continue to use Europlanet as a conduit for interactions between amateur observers and professional planetary scientists. We should reintegrate the best of the European hubs back into the society, recognising the importance of local connections, but without stretching individual hubs too far. Above all, we should ensure that Europlanet activities and the thriving EPSC meetings are sustainable in the decades to come

Luca Montabone

Luca Montabone, Board Member (2023-2027)

An opportunity to do things together that would not be possible on their own. This is what I would like the Europlanet Society to represent for its members. The first time I heard about the concept of a European “virtual observatory” was at a meeting in London, when I was a postdoc at the University of Oxford, UK, after a PhD in Geophysics in Turin, Italy. Since then, several things have changed in the original EuroPlaNet as well as in my career, but the shared passion for planetary science and enthusiasm for new challenges have not changed! I worked for more than a decade on the physics of planetary atmospheres also at the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique/CNRS in Paris, France, at The Open University in Milton Keynes, UK, and at the Space Science Institute in Boulder (CO), USA. Over the past few years, I have created a bridge between the academic and industry facets of planetary science in Europe. I am now running my own small enterprise in South-East France, collaborating with several international research institutions and ESA in satellite data analysis, modelling, and mission concepts for the atmosphere of Mars. The new reality of the Europlanet Society requires a variety of experiences and ideas to support the planetary science community in Europe and to build capacity elsewhere, all in a self-sustainable way. It now seems the right time for me to share my experience and ideas within the Executive Board and the Society at large. As one of the Board members, I will naturally focus my attention on the relations between the Society and the private sector (companies working on hardware, software, data analysis, etc.). Given my aptitude for training and public outreach, I will also look closely at the developments in these areas. Because policy can open up thriving directions for the Society, I would like to take on the challenge to engage with policy makers (European institutions, space agencies, etc.). However, I believe that only a community approach can succeed in moving the Europlanet Society towards its goal of becoming a self-sustained reference for the planetary science community itself, in Europe and beyond. Therefore, strengthening the role of the regional hubs, widening participation, inclusion and diversity are all key areas which I am particularly keen on. As for the other strategic areas (such as early career, research infrastructure, etc.), I am eager to work with Board members who will focus on them.

Europlanet Society Discord Get-Togethers

Europlanet Society Discord Get-Togethers

What Are They?

Europlanet Society’s Discord get-togethers are informal, weekly sessions aimed at fostering community, facilitating conversation, and promoting engagement among our members. Unlike formal meetings, these get-togethers provide a relaxed environment for everyone – from newcomers to long-standing members – to interact, share knowledge, and stay updated on the latest within Europlanet Society.

When and Where?

The get-togethers occur weekly on Fridays and are hosted on our Discord server. Currently, they are held at 12:30–13:30 Paris time, a slot chosen to accommodate the various time zones across Europe. This timing is open to adjustment based on member feedback.

Who Can Attend?

These get-togethers are open to all Europlanet Society members. If you’re not yet a member but are interested in planetary science, consider joining the Europlanet Society to take part.

What’s On the Agenda?

Each week features something different. Topics can range from presentations on Europlanet services to discussions on the latest research in planetary atmospheres. We also dedicate time to community-generated topics and allow members the freedom to steer conversations organically.

Why Attend?

Engaging in these get-togethers offers a unique chance to network, discuss ongoing projects, and even collaborate on new ideas. This is your chance to get involved with the largest planetary science community in Europe.

How to Join?

Simply become a member of Europlanet Society’s Discord server and you’ll receive notifications for each get-together. To join the server, visit our membership website here.

Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement 2023 awarded to Daniela de Paulis and El Mehdi Essaidi

Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement 2023 awarded to Daniela de Paulis and El Mehdi Essaidi

Europlanet Press Release

The 2023 Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement has been awarded jointly to the artist, Daniela de Paulis, for her interdisciplinary programmes to bring space and planetary science to international audiences, and the science communicator, El Mehdi Essaidi, for his community-centric work in southern Morocco to share the wonders of our Solar System and the Universe.

Federica Duras, chair of the Europlanet Outreach Jury, said: “It is a great source of honour for Europlanet to recognise the achievements of these two inspiring professionals with such different projects, resources, outcomes. Above all, it shows us that bringing people closer to planetary science, and more generally to the wonder of the Universe, can be done in many ways, and it’s great to see how it’s being done in different parts of the world.”

Daniela de Paulis is an interdisciplinary artist, whose installations and performances have a strong public engagement component. She has collaborated with astronomers and space scientists for many years and is currently a SETI  Institute Artist-in-Residence (SETI AIR). Her latest project, “A Sign in Space”, invited people around the world to help decode a simulated message from an alien civilisation. The message was transmitted from Mars orbit on 24 May 2023 by the European Space Agency (ESA) mission, ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, and was received by three radio telescopes on Earth. The project reached people in 174 countries and over 85,000 people have viewed a livestream of the event. Almost 5,000 people registered on the online platform Discord, where the message was extracted from the raw signal data within less than 10 days; however the process is ongoing as people on Discord are now trying to decode and interpret the message. The design of the project required coordination with ESA, the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF), the US-based Green Bank Observatory and the SETI Institute, as well as teams of radio astronomers, planetary scientists, engineers, communicators, artists, poets, philosophers, anthropologists and computer scientists, collaborating over different time zones for more than two years.

Claudia Mignone of INAF, who proposed Daniela de Paulis for the prize said: “The visionary idea of Daniela de Paulis brought together a wide audience from over a hundred countries, who have been sharing their thoughts and discussing themes related to space exploration and the quest for life in the Universe, but also what it means to be human at this particular time in history and what we are capable to do when we harness our collective knowledge.”

El Mehdi Essaidi, from the Asif n Ait Bounouh Association for Culture and Awareness in Ait Bounouh / Tafraoute, works to empower students and enhance science literacy in isolated and underserved communities in southern regions of Morocco. Through programmes that are tailored to the specific cultural contexts and local dialects, including astronomy workshops, hands-on experiments, story-telling, stargazing events, mentorship opportunities and observational research projects, El Mehdi Essaidi has motivated young individuals to pursue their dreams in the field of astronomy. By engaging both children and adults, he aims to create a ripple effect that spreads scientific curiosity throughout the community, and provide a relatable role model who shares their language and cultural background. With his latest project, “Asif Stars”, he has enabled communities in Morocco to conduct observational research using the Las Cumbres Observatory telescope network. 

Dr Youssef Oukhallou, President of the Youth Policy Center in Morocco, said: “El Mehdi Essaidi’s contributions to education and public engagement, particularly in the field of astronomy, have had a transformative impact on the lives of numerous individuals and communities, particularly in rural and marginalised areas.”

The winners are invited to give prize lectures at the Europlanet Science Congress 2024 in Berlin from 8-13 September 2024.


Daniela de Paulis, winner of the Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement 2023
Daniela de Paulis, winner of the Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement 2023. Credit: Bas Czerwinski. Download full resolution version
Daniela de Paulis at the Green Bank Observatory. Credit: Paul Vosteen/Green Bank Observatory

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Decoded Image: The message/binary code as extracted from the raw data received by the radio telescopes for “A Sign in Space” on 24 May 2023 in the form of an image. This is now being used by people trying to decode and interpret the message. Credit: A Sign in Space.

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“The Family Portrait” (2015) which was moonbounced as part of Daniela De Paulis’s project OPTICKS, using the Visual Moonbounce technology that the artist helped to develop. Credit: NASA/Charles Duke.

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"Still artfilm", a still image from Daniela de Paulis’s project "Mare Incognito" (2022).
“Still artfilm”, a still image from Daniela de Paulis’s project “Mare Incognito” (2022). Credit: Mirjam Somers/Bas Czerwinski, copyright: Daniela de Paulis.

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El Mehdi Essaidi, winner of the Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement 2023.
El Mehdi Essaidi, winner of the Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement 2023. Credit: Asif Astronomy Club.

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El Mehdi Essaidi leading an observing session. Credit: Asif Astronomy Club.

El Mehdi Essaidi leading an observing session. Credit: Asif Astronomy Club.

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El Mehdi Essaidi leading an observing session. Credit: Asif Astronomy Club.

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El Mehdi Essaidi leading a Robotic Telescope Workshop. Credit: Asif Astronomy Club.

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Daniela de Paulis
Rotterdam, Netherlands
X (formerly Twitter): @danieladepaulis

El Mehdi Essaidi
Asif n Ait Bounouh Association for Culture and Awareness
Casablanca, Morocco

Federica Duras
Chair, Europlanet Outreach Jury


Anita Heward
Europlanet Press Officer
+44 7756 034243


About Europlanet

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, and engage stakeholders, policy makers and European citizens with planetary science.  

The Europlanet Society promotes the advancement of European planetary science and related fields for the benefit of the community and is open to individual and organisational members. The Europlanet Society is the parent organisation of the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC).

2023 Farinella Prize Awarded to Federica Spoto and Diego Turrini

2023 Farinella Prize Awarded to Federica Spoto and Diego Turrini

Europlanet Society Press Release

Dr Federica Spoto, of the Minor Planet Centre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, and Dr Diego Turrini, of the National Institute for Astrophysics – Turin Astrophysical Observatory (INAF-OATo) in Italy, have been awarded jointly the 2023 Paolo Farinella Prize for their outstanding contributions to the field “From superbolides to meteorites: physics and dynamics of small planetary impactors”. The award ceremony will take place during the 55th Annual Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) meeting joint with the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) in San Antonio, Texas, and online and will be followed by prize lectures by each of the winners.

The annual prize was established in 2010 to honour the memory of the Italian scientist Paolo Farinella (1953-2000). Each year, the prize acknowledges an outstanding researcher not older than 47 years (the age of Prof Farinella when he passed away) who has achieved important results in one of Prof Farinella’s fields of work. Each edition of the prize focuses on a different research area and, in 2023, the topic was chosen to highlight recent advances in knowledge about small-size Near-Earth Object (NEO) populations. The award is supported by the Europlanet Society.

Ettore Perozzi, Senior Scientist at the Science Directorate of the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and Chair of the 2023 Paolo Farinella Committee, said on behalf of the Prize Committee: “The work of Diego Turrini has provided deep insights into the collisional processes occurring early in the history of planetary systems, while Federica Spoto has paved the way to quickly identify and reliably compute the orbit of imminent impactors of the Earth. That is the beginning and the end of the long journey of meteorites.”

Dr Spoto’s research focuses on advanced methods to determine the orbits of asteroids and
the age of asteroid families. She led an international team of experts responsible for the validation of the Gaia Solar System objects, a necessary step to ensure the quality of the data in every release. Throughout her career, Dr Spoto has tackled the challenge of efficiently determining the orbits of ‘imminent impactors’ – newly discovered objects approaching our planet that, depending on their size and composition, could result in meteorites reaching the ground and potentially causing significant damage.

“Federica’s outstanding contribution has been twofold: addressing from a theoretical point of view a highly complex chaotic orbit determination problem, and translating the results into practical algorithms for responding to the needs of the operational systems for planetary defence,” said Dr Perozzi.

Through theoretical work, modelling and observations, Dr Turrini has investigated the dynamical and collisional evolution of Solar System bodies, in particular during the early phases of planetary formation. His work highlights the role small planetary impactors play in shaping planetary bodies and their surfaces through collisional erosion and contaminating their chemical composition. He led the development of the ‘Jovian Early Bombardment’ scenario, which describes how the formation and migration of Jupiter triggered a primordial bombardment in the asteroid belt, and the search for its signatures in protoplanetary disks hosting newly formed giant planets. As a scientific team member of the visible and infrared imaging spectrometer (VIR) instrument on the Dawn mission, Dr Turrini combined impact contamination models with in-situ measurements of Vesta and meteoritic data to explain the abundance of dark, carbon-rich material, as well as the unexpected presence of water and olivine deposits, on the surface of Vesta, the second biggest asteroid in the Solar System. These methods developed to study the contamination of asteroids are now providing the basis for investigating how small impactors shape the atmospheric composition of giant exoplanets.

“Diego’s impressive list of participation in high-level committees, such as the ESA Solar System and Exploration Working Group (SSEWG), and his involvement in past, present and future space missions, including Dawn, Juno, Ariel, JUICE and BepiColombo, witness the appreciation of his work by the international astronomical and space science communities,” said Dr Perozzi.

Dr Spoto obtained her academic degrees in celestial mechanics at the Department of Mathematics of the University of Pisa, Italy. She then moved to France to take up post-doctoral positions at Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur and at the Institut de Mécanique Céleste et de Calcul des Éphémérides (IMCCE) in Paris. In February 2020, she joined the IAU Minor Planet Centre where she now holds the role of project scientist.

Dr Turrini obtained a Master’s degree in physics at the University of Milano Bicocca and a PhD in space science and technology at the Center of Studies and Activities for Space (CISAS) “Giuseppe Colombo” at the University of Padova, Italy. He then moved to INAF for his post-doctoral studies and is currently a researcher at INAF-OATo, on transfer from the INAF – Institute for Space Astrophysics and Planetology (INAF-IAPS) in Rome.

About the Paolo Farinella Prize

The Paolo Farinella Prize ( was established to honour the memory and the outstanding figure of Paolo Farinella (1953-2000), an extraordinary scientist and person. The prize is awarded in recognition of significant contributions given in the fields of interest of Farinella, which span from planetary sciences to space geodesy, fundamental physics, science popularization, and security in space, weapons control and disarmament. The winner of the prize is selected each year on the basis of their overall research results in a chosen field. Candidates must participate in international and interdisciplinary collaborations, and be not older than 47 years, the age of Farinella when he passed away, at the date of 25 March 2000. The prize was first proposed during the ‘International Workshop on Paolo Farinella the scientist and the man’, held in Pisa in 2010 and supported by the University of Pisa, ISTI/CNR and by IAPS-INAF (Rome), and first awarded in 2011.

The 2023 Paolo Farinella Prize Committee:

Ettore Perozzi (ASI, Italy), Chair
Alceste Bonanos (National Observatory of Athens, Greece)
Daniele Gardiol (INAF – Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica, Italy)
Maria Hajdukova (Astronomical Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences)
Robert Jedicke (University of Hawaii, USA)
Peter Jenniskens (SETI Institute, USA)

Paolo Farinella Prize winners:

2011: William Bottke (Physics and dynamics of small Solar System bodies)
2012: John Chambers (Formation and early evolution of the Solar System)
2013: Patrick Michel (Collisional processes in the Solar System)
2014: David Vokrouhlicky (Understanding of the dynamics and physics of Solar System, including how pressure from solar radiation affects the orbits of both asteroids and artificial satellites)
2015: Nicolas Biver (Molecular and isotopic composition of cometary volatiles by means of submillimetre and millimetre ground and space observations)
2016: Kleomenis Tsiganis (Studies of the applications of celestial mechanics to the dynamics of planetary systems, including the development of the Nice model)
2017: Simone Marchi (Understanding the complex problems related to the impact history and physical evolution of the inner Solar System, including the Moon)
2018: Francis Nimmo (Understanding of the internal structure and evolution of icy bodies in the Solar System and the resulting influence on their surface processes)
2019: Scott Sheppard and Chad Trujillo (Observational characterisation of the Kuiper belt and the Neptune-trojan population)
2020: Jonathan Fortney and Heather Knutson (Understanding of the structure, evolution and atmospheric dynamics of giant planets)
2021: Diana Valencia and Lena Noack (Understanding of the interior structure and dynamics of terrestrial and super-Earth exoplanets)
2022: Julie Castillo-Rogez and Martin Jutzi (Asteroids: Physics, Dynamics, Modelling and Observations)


Farinella Prize winner 2023: Federica Spoto.
Dr Federica Spoto, joint winner of the Farinella Prize 2023. Credit: Jonathan Sullivan.

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Farinella Prize winner 2023: Diego Turrini.
Dr Diego Turrini, joint winner of the Farinella Prize 2023. Credit: Danae Polychroni

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Science Contacts

Dr Federica Spoto
Minor Planet Center
Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian
Cambridge (MA)
Phone: +1 (617) 495-7170

Dr Diego Turrini
National Institute for Astrophysics
Turin Astrophysical Observatory (INAF-OATo)
Phone: +39 011 8101933

Media Contact

Anita Heward
Press Officer
Europlanet Society
Phone: +44 7756 034243

About Europlanet

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, and engage stakeholders, policy makers and European citizens with planetary science.

The Europlanet Society ( promotes the advancement of European planetary science and related fields for the benefit of the community and is open to individual and organisational members. The Society’s aims are:
• To expand and support a diverse and inclusive planetary community across Europe through the activities of its 10 Regional Hubs.
• To build the profile of the sector through outreach, education and policy activities
• To underpin the key role Europe plays in planetary science through developing links at a national and international level.

DPS-EPSC Joint Meeting 1-6 October

DPS-EPSC Joint Meeting 1-6 October

The 55th Annual Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) meeting joint with the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) and hybrid online/virtual is taking place this week! Here is a round up of information about the meeting:

The Europlanet Society and EPEC have a stand (#27/28) in the exhibition – stop by to say “Hi”, talk to us about any queries or suggestions you have for our activities, or find out how you can get involved with Europlanet! 

To connect with the Europlanet Team and other Europlanet Society members, please join our Discord and navigate to the DPS-EPSC23 channel and forum! 

Meeting Event: Early Career Happy Hour Get-together (In-person)
Thursday Oct 5, 7:00 pm Central 

Informal networking event for early career conference goers. Spend a fun evening and expand your network! Planned to be held near the conference center (bar or restaurant –  must pay for yourself but we will get tables together so people can chat).  More details will be announced here closer to the event date (registration NOT required). This event is co-hosted by the EuroplanetEarly Career Group.

Europlanet Early Career (EPEC) General Assembly (hybrid)
Tuesday Oct 3, 5:30 – 7:00 pm Central

All early careers are encouraged to participate in the EPEC general assembly! At this assembly there will be an introduction to how EPEC is organized, an update on the past year’s activities and the latest news. Join our friendly and inclusive community!

We will be holding the 2023 DPS open mic night on Wednesday 4th October at the Witte Museum running from 6:00 to 10:00 pm

Our Virtual Organizing Committee has made extensive improvements to the planned quality of the DPS-EPSC 2023 Hybrid Meeting format, including:  two or more dedicated cameras in each oral session room (for viewing the speaker, audience, and session chairs), a Lightning poster Zoom-session within the exhibit hall to advertise all posters, the Slack workspaces, the Engagefully app for personal itineraries, a Gathertown room for virtual posters, and a dedicated block in the Thursday schedule for virtual poster engagement by in-person attendees. There is still time to register for virtual participation through 6 October.

The AAS meeting website has many answers to the questions you might be seeking. The PLAN YOUR TRIP page has details on Ground Transportation (including a google form for Rideshares; rental cars are discouraged), recommendations For Families, and many recommendations by the LOC for great restaurants and bars nearby under the Food & Drink top-tab.  Early career folks should be sure to read the PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT/EARLY CAREER page, including details on the Monday evening networking reception and the Wednesday lunch-time Women in Planetary Science (WiPS) Discussion Hour. The TOOLS & RESOURCES page has info on Poster Printing, LGBTQ+ Community Resources, Accessibility Resources, Reproductive Health Resources, and how to Contact Us.  Look for more timely information to come in the DPS-EPSC-2023 Slack channels #helpdesk and #aas_dps_announcements.  The Engagefully app is ready to download from your phone’s app store and link to our event, with more detailed instructions soon to follow on forming your own personalized itinerary.

All DPS-EPSC 2023 attendees received an unclear email titled “Log in to DPS- EPSC 2023” with a link to download the main meeting app (when clicking on their preferred device).  This email was indeed sent by our vendor for the app, RDMobile (; check your Other/Spam folders).  Attendees may download the Engagefully app without clicking this link, but while starting the app the main thing to note is entering the email you used to register for the meeting.  Also note that we’ve contacted several people to be session chairs and found their emails to not be up to date within the AAS Membership system. Repeat the process for each device used, and note that the cross-links to Slack channels unfortunately only work on the web browser version.

Virtual Press Conferences at 2023 Meeting of Division for Planetary Sciences and Europlanet Science Congress

Virtual Press Conferences at 2023 Meeting of Division for Planetary Sciences and Europlanet Science Congress

The 55th annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS), joint with the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC), is being held in San Antonio, Texas, and virtually Sunday, 1 October, through Friday, 6 October 2023. The AAS/DPS offers complimentary press registration to bona fide working journalists and public information officers (PIOs); see details below. We will hold press conferences via Zoom on Monday, 2 October, and Wednesday, 4 October, to showcase some of the most exciting discoveries being presented at the meeting. 

In addition to the briefings, the meeting features a rich science program, including plenary sessions with live panel discussions, oral presentations, a virtual poster session, and Q&A/discussions with presenters and fellow attendees via Slack. 

Nearly 900 planetary scientists, journalists, and others are already registered for the conference. The meeting hashtag is #DPSEPSC2023; you may also wish to follow @DPSMeeting and @AAS_Press on Twitter.

DPS-EPSC 2023 Meeting Links:

• Meeting Website

• Block Schedule

• Press Information

Press Registration 

To request complimentary press registration, first check our eligibility criteria, then send an email message to DPS Press Officer Teddy Kareta ( with your name and media affiliation (or “freelance” if applicable). Upon confirming your eligibility, he’ll email you a special promotional code that you can use to register for the meeting the same way regular attendees do, i.e., via the DPS-EPSC 2023 registration page. For step-by-step instructions on what to do next, see the DPS 55 press information page

Please register as soon as possible. Note that if you are attempting to register after the meeting is under way, we may not be able to process your registration in time for you to attend that day’s events.

Press Conference Schedule, Topics & Speakers 

Press conferences will be conducted via Zoom for press registrants and any other meeting registrants wishing to attend. They’ll also be live-streamed on the AAS Press Office YouTube channel for other interested people who have not registered for the meeting. You will not be able to ask questions via YouTube — to do that, you need to register for the meeting and join the briefings via Zoom. The briefings will be archived on the AAS Press Office YouTube channel afterward. 

Following is the press-conference program, which remains subject to change. Corresponding abstract numbers are shown in [square brackets]. Briefings are scheduled as follows (all times are CDT = UTC – 5 hours); each briefing will last approximately 1 hour, including time for Q&A: 

  • Monday, 2 October, 12:15 pm CDT 
  • Wednesday, 4 October, 12:15 pm CDT 

All findings are embargoed until the time of presentation at the meeting. “Time of presentation” means the start time of the session in which the paper will be given, or the start time of the corresponding press conference (if any), whichever comes first. See the complete AAS/DPS embargo policy for more information. 

Note: All new discoveries are subject to confirmation by independent teams of scientists. Inclusion here does not imply endorsement by the American Astronomical Society or the Division for Planetary Sciences. The AAS and DPS do not endorse individual scientific results. 

Small Bodies and Small Moons

Monday, 2 October, 12:15 pm CDT Evidence of (16) Psyche’s Metallic Nature Found with SOFIA
Anicia Arredondo (Southwest Research Institute)
Photometric Properties of Phobos from Mars Express’s High Resolution Stereo Camera
Sonia Fornasier (LESIA-Université Paris Cité)
Does Strength Help Pluto Capture Charon?
C. Adeene Denton (University of Arizona)[308.09]Exoplanets and Large MoonsWednesday, 4 October, 12:15 pm CDTCold Ocean Planets: Super-Earths or Super-Europas?
Lynnae Quick (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)
Unraveling Planet Formation and Dynamics across the Vast Galactic Landscape
Jon Zink (Caltech)
Ménec Fossae and Thrace Macula on Europa: Hints for Shallow Water Pockets and Identification of the Youngest Terrains
Pietro Matteoni (Freie Universität Berlin)
Ariel Data Challenge: What Can We Learn From Outsourcing Our Problems to the AI Community
Gordon Kai Hou Yip (University College London)[109.02]


Dr. Theodore Kareta 

DPS Press Officer 

+1 617-671-5906

Dr. Susanna Kohler 

AAS Communications Manager & Press Officer 

+1 202-328-2010 x127 

The Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS), founded in 1968, is the largest special-interest Division of the American Astronomical Society. Members of the DPS study the bodies of our own solar system, from planets and moons to comets and asteroids, and all other solar-system objects and processes. With the discovery that planets exist around other stars, the DPS has expanded its scope to include the study of extrasolar planetary systems as well. 

The American Astronomical Society (AAS), established in 1899, is a major international organization of professional astronomers, astronomy educators, and amateur astronomers. Its membership of approximately 8,000 also includes physicists, geologists, engineers, and others whose interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising the astronomical sciences. The mission of the AAS is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe as a diverse and inclusive astronomical community, which it achieves through publishing, meetings, science advocacy, education and outreach, and training and professional development.

The Europlanet Society was formed in 2018 to promote the advancement of European planetary science and related fields for the benefit of the community and is open to individual and organizational members.

Results of Europlanet Society Committee Funding Scheme 2023

Results of Europlanet Society Committee Funding Scheme 2023

The results have been announced of a call by the Europlanet Society to support funding proposals of €1000 to €5000 from its Regional Hubs, Committees and Working Groups and the Society Membership. Five projects have been supported in 2023:

French Hub proposal: Careers workshop at French Planetary Science Congress (€4900)

The French Planetary Science Congress will be held in Nantes in July 2024 conjointly with the French Astrobiology Society (SFE) and National Programme for Planetary Science (PNP), where two days will be devoted to astrobiology topics and two others to planetary science more generally. Funding was requested from the Europlanet Society Committee Funding Scheme to support a one-day workshop devoted to early career researchers focussed on careers in planetary science, divided into talks from industry and academia about their diverse career paths, and workshops on topics such as “CV writing for industry”, “writing a good research grant”, a poster session in the afternoon will allow attendees to exchange with the invited speakers and other researchers at the conference. The whole event will be in French to maximise interaction between the masters and PhD students and the presenters.

Spain Portugal Hub proposal: Pro-Am occultations campaigns with a portable telescope (€3300)

Occultations of stars by small Solar System bodies provide relevant information about their atmosphere, rings, satellites and morphology. The most interesting results are usually obtained when several different chords of the same occultation event are gathered. Therefore, it is usually necessary to deploy different instruments across the predicted shadow path in order to maximise the probability of capturing relevant data.

Several members of the Sociedad Astronómica Granadina (an amateur astronomy group from the south of Spain) have collaborated in dozens of different ProAm occultation campaigns promoted by the IAA and other organizations, specially those involving transneptunian objects, Jupiter trojans and NEOs. Those campaigns usually involve traveling (sometimes thousands of kilometers) in order to correctly position the telescopes and auxiliary gear. To continue and improve collaborations, funding was requested from the Europlanet Society Committee Funding Scheme to acquire a more powerful (but still portable) telescope to obtain occultation data of fainter stars.

Central Europe Hub proposal: Orionids 2023 (€1400)

Funding was requested from the Europlanet Society Committee Funding Scheme to support “Orionids 2023”, a meteor astro-camp. During a weekend workshop that will take place in Banská Štiavnica, in central Slovakia, different astrophysicist and astronomers amateur will provide lectures about how to observe meteor showers and secondary meteor showers in a classical traditional way. This seminar will teach the participants how to be prepared theoretically for such an observation, what methodology (IMO) to use and how to practically observe a meteor shower in general. Afterwards, it will be given the knowledge of submitting the results in the IMO database. Another aim of the project is to teach a new lecturing team in order to maintain visual observation discipline, also nowadays in modern digital times. The plan for the future is to organize the observation of meteor showers at least 3 times a year. The best possibilities would be in Slovak dark sky parks or another convenient location. The expected number of participants of the Orionids 2023 is 12 with 4 lecturers. The first Orionids astro-camp is planned in Slovakia but international participants are also welcome

Central Europe Hub: Variable stars and exoplanet research meeting – support for international audience (€3060)

The Czech Variable stars meeting is traditionally organised by the Czech Astronomical Society, Variable stars and exoplanet section, association of professional and amateur astronomers predominantly from the Czech Republic, but also members from other european countries. This meeting has a long history, the last 54th meeting took place in November 2022 in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Average audience is between 50 and 100 participants, including online audience. Various topics with focus on pro-am research of variable stars and exoplanets are discussed. With the incresing number of international collaboration, there is a rise of international audience of the meeting. Last year’s meeting was also held in hybrid form. Funding was requested from the Europlanet Society to broaden focus of the meeting to the Central European international audience by formally dividing the meeting to consecutive international and Czech/Slovak sections, advertising the meeting on the European level and providing support for in-person participants – amateur astronomers and students. The support will comprise travel bursaries and support with translation of presentations and other material into English. Since 2021 there is also an student section in the form of a competition organised, where also students from other countries can participate.

Ireland-UK Hub: Europlanet Early-Career Networking at the British Planetary Science Conference 2024 (€4380)

The British Planetary Science Conference (BPSC) 2024 has been awarded by the UK Planetary Forum to Space Park Leicester (SPL). It will be held in June 2024 at Space Park and the adjacent National Space Centre in Leicester. Europlanet sponsorship was requested to raise awareness of society membership benefits in the UK. BPSC will start with a 1-day workshop for those new to the space and planetary science community, where experienced SPL engineers and project managers will lead examples of how space instruments and missions are developed. This will help facilitate wider access to new space exploration initiatives in the planetary and space science community, and is particularly focussed on connecting early-career researchers to new opportunities. The main 3-day part of the conference will consist of oral and poster sessions reflecting the range of topical planetary and space science activities in the UK, including results from sample return missions, Mars exploration, the Gas and Ice Giants, meteorites, Mercury. The main conference will also have an emphasis on careers and EDI, with input on careers in the space industry. On the final day will include a community consultation day with UKSA, STFC, and other interested stakeholders like Europlanet.

South East Europe Hub: Terrestrial Analogues for Solar System Studies Conference (€5000)

Co-funding was requested from the Europlanet Society Committee Funding Scheme for an already designed planetary-themed conference to be held in Greece, in the island of Milos, during the summer of 2024. The conference has both scientific and policy aspects, and aims to bring together planetary scientists from all over the world, with an emphasis on students and early career participants from Southeastern Europe, in a location of great relevance and interest for planetary geologic topics – the island of Milos. This region has experienced young volcanism and tectonism (Mars, Pluto), has undergone atmospheric shaping of volcanic deposits, and carving into yardangs (Mars, Titan, Venus, Pluto), and has current hydrothermal and fumarolic activity (Venus, Io, exoplanets). The conference will offer a combination of lectures, science discussions and filed trips, as well as policy and industry related discussions in a dedicated session. Planetary scientists with experience in field geology will interact with those who typically do modeling or laboratory studies, furthering the cross communication of topics and improving the research approach for all participants to lead to a better understanding.

EPEC: Early Career Activities at DPS-EPSC 2023 (€900)

EPEC has organised a programme of events for early career researchers at the joint DPS-EPSC meeting in October 2023 in San Antonio, Texas. The planned activities include a short course on mental health, a social event, mentoring for first-time attendees and the EPEC general assembly. In addition, EPEC will have a booth to help early careers find their way around and inform them about our work.

Find out more about the Committee Funding Scheme.

1st Europlanet Latin America Planetary Science Workshop

1st Europlanet Latin America Planetary Science Workshop: Connecting Earth with Other Planets

The next event in the Europlanet Workshop Series will be the 1st Europlanet Latin America Planetary Science Workshop, which will take place from 31 October-03 November 2023 at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The workshop will be held in the hybrid mode.

Who is for?

Post-graduated students, researchers, early career and professionals interested in planetary science, planetary surface and astrobiology.


The programme for the workshop can be found here.


The workshop is free of charge but places are limited!


Registration opens on 01/08/2023 and closes on 27/09/2023. It is compulsory and must be accompanied by a letter of interest and a brief curriculum vitae (max 1 page). You will receive via email confirmation of your acceptance. Participation in the workshop includes all coffee and lunch breaks.

Number of participants

35 people will be admitted in-person and up to 100 online.


English or Spanish


Attendees (both in-person and online) will be issued, on request, with a certificate of attendance. The materials of topics presented at the 1st Latin America Planetary Science Workshop – Connecting Earth with other Planets will be available.

More about the Europlanet Workshop Series

More about Europlanet Global Collaboration and Integration Development

Issue 5 of the Europlanet Magazine is out now!

Issue 5 of the Europlanet Magazine is out now!

In this issue:

Cover of the Europlanet Magazine Issue 5
Cover of the Europlanet Magazine Issue 5

In Focus

round up of news from Europlanet and the planetary community, including

ESA’s JUICE Mission – Making History on its Way to Jupiter

Athena Coustenis (CNRS/Observatoire de Paris, Meudon, France), member of the JUICE Science Working Team and Co-I of the JANUS camera, describes the emotional journey to the launchpad and beyond for Europe’s new mission to explore the icy moons of Jupiter

Planetary Perspectives – A Planetary Scientist Turned Asteroid Miner

This edition’s ‘Planetary Perspectives’ interview with Dr Lauri Siltala has been contributed by J D Prasanna Deshapriya, Hans Huybrighs, Peter McArdle, and Ottaviano Rüsch of the Europlanet Early Career (EPEC) Future Research Working Group. It is the latest in a series of conversations by EPEC, ‘Industry or Academia?’, which aim to gather insights from people who have had success in both sectors. 

Policy Engagement on the Menu 

Members of the Europlanet Policy and Industry Team and Executive Board reflect on recent activities by Europlanet to engage with policy makers

A Guide to Live-Streaming Astronomy Events 

Claudia Mignone (INAF), Anne Buckle and Graham Jones ( and Helen Usher (Open University) share tips for a new era of astronomy live-streaming

Developing Labs for Research that is Out of this World

Gareth Davies (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands) describes how investment from the European Commission has supported Europlanet’s development of state-of-the-art facilities for planetary science – and other fields of research, such as cultural heritage.

Life Beyond Us: Showcasing Astrobiology through Science Fiction Stories 

Julie Nováková (European Astrobiology Institute, Czech Republic), co-editor of the ‘Life Beyond Us’ anthology, describes this new collection of 27 science fiction stories by award-winning authors and 27 essays by scientists. 

AbGradEPEC 2023 

After a three-year wait to hold the AbGradEPEC meeting for early career astrobiologists, former AbGradE President, Ruth-Sophie Taubner, and current President, Silvana Pinna, share highlights of the event. 

Fourth Fireball Forum

Günter Kargl and Manuel Scherf (Space Research Institute, Austrian Academy of Sciences) describe the outcomes of a series of workshops on fireball detection organised through the Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) project. 


The SPIDER Space Weather Service supports studies of BepiColombo flybys at Venus and Mercury.


Thibaut Roger (Europlanet Communications Team/Universität Bern) explores the use of games and play-related formats for research and science communication. 

The Last Word
Nigel Mason (President, Europlanet Society) reflects on efforts to build a more collaborative European space science community.

Europlanet Summer School 2023 is Underway

Europlanet Summer School 2023 is Underway

The Europlanet Summer School 2023 is being hosted by Vilnius University’s Moletai Astronomical Observatory (MAO) in Lithuania from 8-18 August.

For the first time, the School is taking place in hybrid format, with 20 participants from 10 countries attending on site and up to 30 people following online. The participants include early careers (right the way from high-school to BSc, MSc, PhD and postdoc) and amateur astronomers.

During the School, participants will gain hands-on experience observing with MAO’s 1.65m and 35/51cm-telescopes (weather permitting!) and training in analysing exoplanet transits, stellar spectra, atmospheric parameters and variability data. The programme includes training modules in communication skills and engaging with schools, as well as lectures on space and ground-based observations and machine learning.

Deividas Dudulis (high-school student and astrophotographer), who is participating in the Summer School, will be posting photos here.

Ariel Mission Passes Major Milestone

Ariel Mission Completes its Preliminary Design Review

Ariel, the European Space Agency’s next-generation mission to observe the chemical make-up of distant extrasolar planets, has passed a major milestone after successfully completing its Payload Preliminary Design Review (PDR). The successful completion of the Payload PDR marks a crucial step forward for Ariel, demonstrating that the mission’s payload design meets all the required technical and scientific specifications, and no showstoppers were found for the foreseen launch in 2029.

The Ariel consortium payload team prepared 179 technical documents and addressed 364 questions (RIDs) for a panel of ESA experts, who evaluated the feasibility, performance, and robustness of the payload design. The review scrutinised every aspect of the proposed payload, to ensure that the designed systems meet the technical, scientific, and operational requirements of the mission. In May 2023 the ESA review board accepted that all the objectives had been completed, and confirmed the successful closure of the Ariel Payload PDR.  

As a result of this major achievement, Ariel’s payload critical technology is now considered at Technical Readiness Level 6, indicating that the mission can now proceed to payload CDR (Critical Design Review) and begin to manufacture its first prototype models.

Read the full press release on the Ariel Consortium website.

Investigating Venus via Volcanic Iceland

Investigating Venus via Volcanic Iceland

Solmaz Adeli and Nils Müller are travelling to Iceland this summer to carry out two research projects in support of upcoming missions to Venus.  Their visit, from 31 July – 14 August, is partly funded through Europlanet’s Transnational Access programme and the trip is part of a larger, international campaign organised by NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the German Aerospace Centre, DLR.

Volcanic field sites in Iceland can be used as planetary analogues for Venus, since their resemblance to terrains and environments on Venus enable a better understanding of the processes that shape the venusian surface, and also provide an opportunity to test out instrumentation.

Iceland's Fagradalsfjall volcano
Iceland’s Fagradalsfjall volcano erupting in 2021. Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Mokslo Sriuba
3-D perspective view of Sapas Mons on Venus, with lava flows in the foreground. Credit: NASA/JPL

Solmaz, of the DLR Institute of Planetary Research, is leading a project that uses field sites on Iceland to help characterise the composition and origin of the major geologic terrains on the venusian surface, one of the main objectives of the NASA VERITAS and ESA EnVision missions. Her team will use a prototype of the VEM instrument, which will fly on-board VERITAS, to characterise lava flows in the Reykjanes peninsula, which range from very fresh terrains to areas that have been altered over time. “Very fresh” in this case even means that, by coincidence, the team will be able to measure hot lava that is currently erupting from the active Fagradalsfjall volcano since 10 July this year. The red-glowing lava rocks of the Litli-Hrútur eruption cone have about the same temperature as the surface of Venus, which is a 470 degree Celsius hothouse day and night. The team will also collect samples and take them back to the PSL laboratories at DLR-Berlin for analysis in the Venus emissivity chamber

This project will increase our understanding of the spectral emissivity data that will be obtained by the VERITAS and EnVision missions, and be an opportunity to calibrate field data taken by the prototype VEM instrument

Nils, a postoc at the Freie Universität Berlin, is leading a project to better understand volcanic activity on Venus by investigating the infrared signal of active eruptions and searching for new lava flows. The Dyngjusandur sand sheet (a cold sand desert) and the fissure-fed lava flows, Holuhraun and Thorvaldshraun, are excellent analogues on Iceland to prepare for these studies because these recent lava flows at the sites are sufficiently large and intense to be detectable on Venus.

An issue that complicates the quantitative study of volcanic activity on Venus is the unexpectedly low reflected radar signal from Venusian lava flows, which suggests that detection of active  flows may be difficult because they might quickly form uninterrupted crusts, obscuring the hot lava. It is, however, possible that wind-bourne sediments are partly responsible for these low radar reflections. The Iceland volcanic sites are very well-suited to study how sediments modify the radar signal of lava flows, so the study may give new insights into radar data collected at Venus.

The team aims to acquire airborne radar data, similar to the VERITAS radar data, and carry out field work simultaneously with the flight campaign. This ‘ground-truth’ data will include information on sediment coverage and humidity, which will help to interpret and add value to the radar data.

Uli Koehler, from the DLR Institute of Planetary Research, will be travelling with the expedition team and reporting on the campaign. For updates on their progress, see the DLR blog and follow the social media channels of DLR:

Image: CC BY-SA 4.0 Mokslo Sriuba

21-EPN-FT1-012: Zebra dolomites revised

21-EPN-FT1-012: Zebra dolomites revised: clumped isotope analysis as a tool to assess recrystallisation and dolomite cementation in overpressured settings

Visit by Swennen Rudy, KU Leuven (Belgium), to TA2 Facility 17 – Isotoptech Stable/Clumped Isotopes Laboratory (Hungary).
Dates of visit: 22-26 May 2023.

Report Summary: Zebra dolomites are marked by an alternation of millimeter thick dark colored, as recrystallised interpreted bands and white cement bands. Disruption of the banding is manifested by displacements that gradually increases and subsequently deceases before disappearing. This disruption also occurs at intracrystalline scale with crystal rehealing features as observable under cathodoluminescence. This disruption of the zebra dolomites is explained by dolomitization in relation to overpressured fluid flow.  

In the framework of the Europlanet project zebra dolomite samples from 3 deep Belgian boreholes (Soumagne, Soiron and Bolland) were selected for clumped isotope analysis.  The aim was to sample and analyse the dark fine crystalline and white coarse dolomite cements separately to infer the original (re)crystallization temperature.  The following research questions were raised: i) is there a systematic difference in deduced temperature between the dark and white dolomite bands.  If so then this could help to better constrain the recrystallisation and cementation.  This would allow to assess the potential resetting of the original clumped isotope signature of the dark bands due to recrystallisation; ii) if the cement phases display uniform temperatures then this temperature can be compared with the minimum crystallization temperature deduced from primary fluid inclusion microthermometry [1]. The discrepancy between both temperatures, which links to the pressure correction, normally allows to quantify the overpressure of the system; iii) based on deduced crystallization temperature and δ18OPDB, the δ18OSMOW of the fluid can be assessed, allowing to constrain the origin of the dolomitizing fluids, certainly when combined with Sr isotope analysis.

22-EPN3-128: Northwestern Amazon regional convection and its role in the control of extreme events and the isotopic signal in Quito, Ecuador.

22-EPN3-128: Northwestern Amazon regional convection and its role in the control of extreme events and the isotopic signal in Quito, Ecuador.

Visit by Maria Sheila Fabiola Serrano Vincenti, Universidad Politécnica Salesiana (Ecuador), to TA2 Facility 17 – Isotoptech Stable/Clumped Isotopes Laboratory (Hungary).
Dates of visit: 22-26 May 2023.

Report Summary: The goal of the 2023 visit to the TA Facility was to measure rainwater δ2H and δ18O values sampled at daily and monthly resolution from October 2022 to May 2023 in three different monitoring sites at North, South and Valley sites in Quito-Ecuador. Due to the complex orography, the sites experience varying intensities of rainfall and hailstorms. These measurements are part of a project aiming to understand the dynamical processes that contribute to the observed heavy and extreme precipitation events in the Tropical Andes, specifically in Quito.

Location of the installed rainfall collectors (red) and nearby meteorological REMMAQ stations (cyan). The borders of the city of Quito are marked by the white line.
Location of the installed rainfall collectors (red) and nearby meteorological REMMAQ stations (cyan). The borders of the city of Quito are marked by the white line. Credit: S Serrano-Vincenti.

Understanding these isotopic data will help the interpretation of the variations in δ2H and δ18O during intense rainfall events and subsequent fractionation due to local and upstream convection, orographic lift and moisture recycling. In addition to the measured isotopic signals, rainfall amount, pH, conductivity, and Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) data will be statistically analysed from the sites. Similarly, instrumental daily precipitation and cloud coverage information from instrumental and satellite data will be examined for convective rainfall (thunderstorms) and moisture provenance characterisation.

The Los Gatos spectrometer at the ISIL
The Los Gatos spectrometer at the ISIL Credit: S Serrano-Vincenti.

Read the full scientific report with kind permission by Sheila Serrano-Vincenti.

22-EPN3-086: Exploring the Effects of H+, On+, and Sn+ Irradiation of Water Ice, plus an ISM relevant Molecule, as a Potential Prebiotic Europa Ocean Analogue

22-EPN3-086: Exploring the Effects of H+, On+, and Sn+ Irradiation of Water Ice, plus an ISM relevant Molecule, as a Potential Prebiotic Europa Ocean Analogue

Visit by Alexandra Corrigan, University of Kent (UK) to TA2.12 Atomki-Queen’s University Ice Laboratory for Astrochemistry (Hungary).
Dates of visit: 15 May – 06 June 2023

Report Summary: At the AQUILA chamber in the ECRIS Laboratory at the Atomki Institute for Nuclear Research the effects of H+, O2+, and S5+ irradiation of water ice, plus Formamide, as a potential prebiotic Europa ocean analogue were explored. Three sodium chloride windows, covered with a 1:1 ice mixture of water and Formamide, were irradiated with ion beams. The windows were cooled down to 90K in vacuum, and a 200-250 nm thick ice layer was deposited at them. In the first experiment, the sample was irradiated using a 15keV H+ ion beam in 12 steps, up to a total fluence of 1.1x 1015 ion/cm2. After each irradiation steps an infra-red (IR) spectrum was taken to observe the irradiation products. After completing, the sample was warmed up to 300K in 30K increments, taking an IR spectrum at each interval. During both irradiation and heating, the sputtered molecules were monitored by QMS. Finally, after a full warming up of the cold parts we opened the chamber, removed the sample (for post-TA residue analysis using LCMS/MS), replaced the NaCl window, and pumped the chamber. This protocol was repeated (with different irradiation fluences) for 30keV O2+ and 60keV S5+ ion beams. All the sample windows have been taken for residue analysis. From initial analysis of the spectra it seems that the Formamide was broken, and formed products such as CO, CO2, OCN, and CN. Further investigation is required to confirm these results and to determine what other products were created during the irradiation. 

First BepiColombo Flyby of Mercury Finds Electron Rain Triggers X-Ray Auroras

First BepiColombo Flyby of Mercury Finds Electron Rain Triggers X-Ray Auroras

Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) Press Release

BepiColombo, the joint European Space Agency (ESA) and Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) mission, has revealed how electrons raining down onto the surface of Mercury can trigger high-energy auroras. 

The mission, which has been enroute to the Solar System’s innermost planet since 2018, successfully carried out its first Mercury flyby on 1 October 2021. An international team of researchers analysed data from three of BepiColombo’s instruments during the encounter. The outcomes of this study have been published today in the scientific journal, Nature Communications.

Terrestrial auroras are generated by interactions between the solar wind, a stream of charged particles emitted by the Sun, and an electrically charged upper layer of Earth’s atmosphere, called the ionosphere. As Mercury only has a very thin atmosphere, called an exosphere, its auroras are generated by the solar wind interacting directly with the planet’s surface.

The BepiColombo mission consists of two spacecraft, the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) led by ESA, and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO, named Mio after launch) led by JAXA, which are currently in a docked configuration for the seven-year cruise to the final orbit. During its first Mercury flyby, Bepicolombo swooped just 200 kilometres above the planet’s surface. The observations by plasma instruments onboard Mio enabled the first simultaneous observations of different kinds of charged particles from the solar wind in the vicinity of Mercury. 

Lead author, Sae Aizawa, of the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (IRAP), now at JAXA’s Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) and University of Pisa, Italy, said: “For the first time, we have witnessed how electrons are accelerated in Mercury’s magnetosphere and precipitated onto the planet’s surface. While Mercury’s magnetosphere is much smaller than Earth’s and has a different structure and dynamics, we have confirmation that the mechanism that generates aurorae is the same throughout the Solar System.”

During the flyby, BepiColombo approached Mercury from the night side of the northern hemisphere and made its closest approach near the morning side of the southern hemisphere. It observed the magnetosphere on the daytime side of the southern hemisphere, and then passed out of the magnetosphere back into the solar wind. Its instruments successfully observed the structure and the boundaries of the magnetosphere, including the magnetopause and bow shock. The data also showed that the magnetosphere was in an unusually compressed state, most likely due to high pressure conditions in the solar wind. 

The acceleration of electrons appears to occur due to plasma processes in the dawn side of Mercury’s magnetosphere. The high energy electrons are transported from the tail region towards the planet, where they eventually rain down on the Mercury’s surface. Unimpeded by an atmosphere, they interact with material on the surface and cause X-rays to be emitted, resulting in an auroral glow. Although auroras had been observed before at Mercury by the NASA MESSENGER mission, the processes triggering the X-ray fluorescence by the surface had not been well understood and witnessed directly to date.

The study was carried out by a research team composed of the French Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (IRAP), Kyoto University, ISAS, the Laboratoire de Physique des Plasmas (France), the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (Germany), the Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Osaka University, Kanazawa University, and Tokai University. The work was partially supported through Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure funding from the European Commission under grant agreement No 871149.

Publication Details

Aizawa et al. Direct evidence of substorm-related impulsive injections of electrons at Mercury. Nature Communications, 18 July, 2023.

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-39565-4



Artist’s representation of ESA/JAXA’s BepiColombo mission flying through precipitating electrons that can trigger X-rays auroras on the surface of Mercury.

Artist’s representation of the ESA/JAXA BepiColombo mission flying through precipitating electrons that can trigger X-ray auroras on the surface of Mercury. Credit: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0) Thibaut Roger/Europlanet.

Science Contacts

Dr Sae Aizawa
Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (IRAP), CNRS-UPS-CNES
also at ISAS, Japan and University of Pisa, Italy

Dr Yuki Harada
Department of Geophysics, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University

Dr Moa Persson
Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (IRAP), CNRS-UPS-CNES
also at University of Tokyo, Japan

Dr Nicolas André
Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (IRAP), CNRS-UPS-CNES

Dr Go Murakami
Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS)
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

Media Contacts

Anita Heward
Press Officer
Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI)
+44 7756 034243

Further Information

The study used data mainly from Mio’s Mercury Electron Analyzer, MEA, complemented by data from the Mercury Ion Analyzer (MIA), and Energetic Neutral Atom (ENA) instruments, which are part of the Mercury Plasma Particle Experiment (MPPE). The MPPE consortium is led by the Principal Investigator, Yoshifumi Saito, from ISAS in Tokyo, Japan.


In October 2003, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) was established as an independent administrative institution, integrating the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) and the National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan (NAL). ISAS became one of four principal sections within the newly established organization. Its mission is to advance space science – scientific research conducted in outer space – in Japan, mainly by collaboration with universities. It also actively contributes to JAXA’s and Japan’s entire space development. 

ISAS’s new efforts and results in space science are published in Japan and shared with the international community, thus promoting JAXA’s status and enhancing Japan’s intellectual reputation in the world.


Twitter: @ISAS_JAXA_EN

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Call for Vice-Chair of EPSC Executive Committee

Call for Vice Chair of EPSC Executive Committee

Deadline: Thursday, 17 August 2023

We are looking for a volunteer to act as Vice-Chair of the EPSC Executive Committee for upcoming Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) meetings in 2024-2027.

If you would like to put yourself forward for this role, please fill in the application form.

For more information, please see the EPSC Executive Committee Terms of Reference and the Job Description for the EPSC Executive Committee Vice Chair. If you have any questions, please contact the Europlanet Society Executive Board.

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Soapbox Science 2023: Women Scientists Take the Floor at the Heart of Brussels

Soapbox Science 2023: Women Scientists Take the Floor at the Heart of Brussels

This Saturday afternoon, 12 women scientists in Belgium will be bringing their science to the public during the Soapbox Science Brussels event.

Soapbox Science is a science outreach initiative that aims to promote the visibility of women and non-binary scientists and their research by bringing them on the streets to reach the public. Soapbox Science events transform public areas in discussion forums based on Hyde Park’s Speaker’s Corner where scientists, on their soapboxes, talk about their research to the people passing by.

Details: Saturday, 24 June 2023, from 2-5 pm, at the Carrefour de l’Europe/Europakruispunt, in front of the Central Station. 

Новости Омутнинск Любовь и семья Общество Люди и события Красота и здоровье Дети Диета Кулинария Полезные советы Шоу-бизнес Огород Гороскопы Авто Интерьер Домашние животные Технологии Рекорды и антирекорды