20-EPN2-073: Assessment of the Aeolian Dispersion and Wind Effects on Cryptoendolithic Microorganisms in the Martian Environment

20-EPN2-073: Assessment of the Aeolian Dispersion and Wind Effects on Cryptoendolithic Microorganisms in the Martian Environment

Virtual visit by Lorenzo Aureli, University of Tuscia (Italy) to TA2.4 Planetary Environment Facilities (PEF), AU (Denmark).
Dates of visit: 15-19 November 2021

Report Summary: The hostile current conditions on the surface of Mars entail that, if any form of life exists or ever existed on the planet, it may have adopted survival strategies like those evolved by terrestrial microorganisms inhabiting extremely harsh regions, such as Antarctic deserts. Here, one of the most common strategies observed is the cryptoendolithic growth, defined as the colonisation of the small interstices inside rocks, where microorganisms are protected from external hostile conditions. However, endolithic microorganisms can break down the surrounding rock substratum, thus causing the exfoliation of the external layers of the colonised rocks. Consequently, exposure to wind and saltating sand can cause the dispersal of the shallow rock fragments and endolithic colonies to the environment.

This study aimed to examine the possibility of dispersal of hypothetical rock-dwelling microorganisms on the surface of Mars. To achieve this goal, colonised Antarctic sandstone rocks were exposed to simulated martian and terrestrial windy environments at the Planetary Environment Facility in Aarhus University in four different simulations. Rock, sand and dust samples were collected after each simulation to assess the survival and the variety of dispersed microorganisms in the two scenarios. Although biological data are not available at the moment of the draft of the report, remarkable differences were observed in the dispersal of dust and sand between the different conditions.

Read full report.


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20-EPN-084: Converting one amino acid to the other containing sulfur via ion irradiation: Implication to chemical evolution on Europa surface ices

20-EPN-084: Converting one amino acid to the other containing sulfur via ion irradiation : Implication to chemical evolution on Europa surface ices

Visit by Rahul Kumar Kushwaha, Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad (India) to TA2.11 Atomki Ice Chamber for Astrophysics / Astrochemistry (ICA) (Hungary).
Dates of visit: 8-19 December 2021

Report Summary: The non-equilibrium chemistry driven by the charged particle and photon irradiation processes are responsible for the rich chemistry on the surfaces of icy satellites. Among the icy satellites of the Jovian and Saturnian planetary systems, a few satellites such as Ganymede, Europa, Dione, Rhea, Callisto and Titan that are embedded in their respective planetary magnetospheres were observed to undergo rich chemical processes due to the bombardment of a wide range of energetic atomic and molecular ions that are present in their planet’s magnetospheres, which processes the icy surfaces of satellites by irradiation and implantation. Magnetospheres also help in bringing new species from one satellite to the other. Especially in the Jupiter system of icy satellites, sulfur transfer from Io to the other satellites is quite likely. The sulfur ions from Io are picked up by the magnetosphere and are accelerated towards the other icy satellites; Europa being the closest neighbour to Io will be implanted with sulfur ions. The Jovian satellites, due to the presence of the Jupiter’s magnetosphere, are subjected to highly energetic S ion irradiation which leads to a range of chemical activity on their surfaces. In this project, we have studied the effect of S ion irradiation on Aspartic acid for a range of energies at two different temperatures (100 K, 20 K), where the 100 K experiments are aimed to mimic the conditions of Europa. The irradiated residue was then analysed using an optical microscope, scanning electron microscope and liquid chromatography mass spectrometry.

Full scientific report published by kind permission of Rahul Kumar Kushwaha


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20-EPN2-081: Vis-NIR reflection spectroscopy of ammonium salts relevant for icy planetary surface characterisation

20-EPN-029: Vis-NIR reflection spectroscopy of ammonium salts relevant for icy planetary surface characterisation

Virtual visit by Maximiliano Fastelli, University of Perugia (Italy), to TA2.8 CSS (Cold Surfaces Spectroscopy) at IPAG (France).
Dates of visit: 13 October – 5 November 2021

Report Summary: During this TA visit under Europlanet 2024 RI 2nd call, reflectance VIS-NIR spectra of several ammonium salts were collected at the CSS facility (IPAG laboratory) in Grenoble, France. Different temperature steps were chosen to collect cryogenic data down to 90 K. Samples were characterised by low temperature crystalline phase transitions, and for these reasons, the measurement steps have been increased in the proximity of the expected temperature of mineral transformation. Cooling and heating experiments, using the same cooling/heating rate, were performed to bracket the phase transition and verify its reversibility. All the spectra were collected with three different grain size (150/125 – 125/80 – 80/32 μm) in the spectral range from 1 to 4.6 μm at low T. Typical absorption features due to overtones and combinations of NH4+ groups were identified in the spectral range investigated. Phase transitions, when detected, show an interesting behaviour with change in shape and position of some (sensitive) absorption bands which could be useful for the identification of these phases at non-ambient T. Moreover, the effect of low and different granulometry were observed.

It has been proposed that ammonium minerals are present in varying percentages in icy planetary bodies. The availability of these compounds is linked to the upwelling of ammonium salts (NH4+) with ice from the subsurface of possible oceans resulting from cryovolcanism phenomena. The identification of these minerals on the surface can give information about internal composition/dynamics and potential habitability of icy bodies.


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Issue 2 of the Europlanet Magazine is out!

Issue 2 of the Europlanet Magazine is out!


The official magazine of Europlanet, the European community for planetary science.

We are delighted to share with you the second issue of the Europlanet Magazine. The e-magazine is published twice a year and aims to highlight the range of activities by Europlanet, our partners, and the wider planetary community.

The second issue highlights some of the exciting science supported through Europlanet’s Transnational Access programme, including an experimental project to recreate martian flows in the lab, field campaigns in Botswana and Greenland, and virtual access to facilities in Korea. Niklas Nienass MEP shares his vision for Europe’s role in the new Space Race, and we report on the science presented and community events at the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2021 in September. As the Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) passes a major milestone, we look at some of the outcomes of the projets to date, and we have an insight into the long pathway that’s led to the recent selection of three missions to Venus. We also have features on designing meetings in pandemic and post-pandemic times, outreach initiatives, an industry database with links to planetary science, and searching for evidence of the earliest forms of life on Earth.

Please check out Issue 2 and share with your networks to help us spread the word.


In this issue:

round up of news from Europlanet 2024 RI, the Europlanet Society, the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2021 and the planetary community.

Celebrating Science at EPSC2021 

Stavro Ivanovski (INAF) and Akos Kereszturi (Konkoly Thege Miklos Astronomical Institute), Co-chairs of the Scientific Organising Committee (SOC), review the second virtual Europlanet Science Congress.

Spotlight on Diversity at EPSC2021 

The Europlanet Diversity Committee describes events at EPSC2021 to highlight equity, diversity and inclusion

Early Career Events at EPSC2021 

Noah Jäggi, Chair of the EPEC@EPSC Working Group, reports on a packed programme at EPSC2021 organised by the Europlanet Early Career (EPEC) network

Designs on Pandemic and Post-Pandemic Meetings: Learning with the EPSC 2021 Team 

Amy Riches (University of Edinburgh, UK, and SETI Institute, USA) describes her experiences as a planetary geochemist diving into the EPSC2021 Media Internship Programme.

Planetary Perspectives

Lena Noack, Incoming Chair of EPSC2021, talks about her career, inspirations, and her experiences with Europlanet in this month’s Planetary Perspectives Q&A.

Finding New Ways of Envisioning Venus 

Jörn Helbert (DLR) looks forward to three new missions to investigate Earth’s mysterious twin

Connecting Communities Across the Industry – Academic Divide 

Marcell Tessenyi (Blue Skies Space Ltd) and Jeronimo Bernard-Salas (ACRI-ST) report on a survey and new database to support industry-academia collaborations

Europe and the New Space Race 

Following the Industry-Policy Session at EPSC2021, Livia Giacomini (INAF) spoke to Niklas Nienass, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for Germany in the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, about his vision for space science in Europe.

FANTASTIC ACCESS 

As we emerge from nearly two years of restricted travel, Gareth Davies (VUA, Netherlands) gives an update on Europlanet’s Transnational Access (TA) programme, which provides free access to facilities and field sites around the worldLonneke Roelofs (Utrecht University, Netherlands), Daniel Toledo (INTA, Spain), Costanza Rossi (INAF, Italy), Denice Borsten and Jochem Sikkes (VUA, Netherlands) share their expriences of participating in TA visits.

The Animated Universe of James O’Donoghue 

Federica Duras and Livia Giacomini (INAF) talk to the Europlanet Prize 2021 winner, James O’Donoghue, about his motivations for creating animations to communicate challenging scientific concepts and his advice on a career in planetary science 

Evaluating the Impact of Europlanet 2024 RI 

 Project Evaluator, Jennifer DeWitt, and Communications Manager, Anita Heward, report on outcomes of the first review of Europlanet’s flagship research infrastructure

Looking for the earliest forms of life on Earth 

Barbara Cavalazzi (University of Bologna) describes how an international effort has identified some of the earliest examples of life on Earth

The Bolivian San Agustin Remote Observatory 

Gabriel Andres Jaimes Illanes, the IAU National Education Coordinator for Bolivia and member of the San Agustin Educational Foundation (FESA), reports on plans to develop a remote observatory to support astronomy outreach in Bolivia

CommKit

The Europlanet Magazine’s column on science communication by Shorouk Elkobros (Europlanet Society/ESF).

The Last Word

Nigel Mason reflects on a challenging year in Beyond Borders.

Geology & Planetary Mapping Winter School

Geology & Planetary Mapping Winter School

The next Geology & Planetary Mapping Winter School will be held online 7th – 11th February 2022. The school will be dedicated to the process of creating planetary geologic maps on the Moon, Mercury and Mars.

The registration is now open. The registration deadline is January 15th 2022

The registrations is free. We will try to accomodate as many participants as possible, while keeping a reasonable participant/instructor ratio. The school will cover all the topics that are necessary to produce high-quality planetary cartography:

  • Introduction to features and processes specific to Solar System objects.t
  • Basics of remote sensing and multispectral data exploitation
  • GIS usage, based on QGIS Open Source software (project creation, and layout)
  • Practical collaborative mapping with dedicated instructor on each planetary body (1 full day each)
  • Principles of crater counting
  • Geologic cross section and stratigraphic sections creation
  • Seminars and talks from invited international guests
  • The school will include frontal lectures, practical demonstrations and group-work activities for practicing mapping on the Moon, Mercury and Mars.

Find out more at: https://www.planetarymapping.eu/

Europlanet Telescope Network Science Workshop

Europlanet 2024 RI logo

Europlanet Telescope Network Science Workshop

9-11 February 2022 

The Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) project and the Institute of Theoretical Physics and Astronomy of Vilnius University are pleased to announce the international conference: ‘Europlanet Telescope Network Science Workshop

The Europlanet Telescope Network, launched in 2020,  is a network of small telescope facilities to support planetary science observations by professional and amateur astronomers. The Europlanet Telescope Network currently comprises 16 observatories with 46 telescopes ranging from 40 cm to 2 m in size. The network can be accessed free of charge to carry out projects on a wide variety of scientific studies about the Solar System and exoplanets, as well as related astronomical investigations. 

The goal of this workshop is to encourage community-led proposals and to highlight scientific results achieved with the Europlanet Telescope Network and other medium size and small telescopes. We invite interested astronomers and amateurs to participate, to learn more about  the instruments offered, their capabilities, and scientific potential. The Europlanet Telescope Network is operated by the Europlanet 2024 RI project which is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 871149.

Sessions will be distributed over three half days. They will be dedicated accordingly: 

  • Day 1 –  Solar System planets
  • Day 2 –  Exoplanets
  • Day 3 –  Minor Solar System Bodies

The sessions will be followed by brainstorming meetings on the Discort platform.

Registration is free of charge and with no deadline.

Participants are encouraged to submit a short abstract describing the science questions and topics they would like to address with the Europlanet Telescope Network. We anticipate a talk length of 12+3 min for contributed presentations and by 2-3 min for poster presentations.

The deadlines for abstract submissions:

  • Oral presentations  – 7 January 2022 23:59:00 UTC  (notification of acceptance by 14 January 2022)
  • Poster presentations – 21 January 2022 23:59:00 UTC

For Application form follow this link

For more information and registration see: http://mao.tfai.vu.lt/europlanet2022/.

Virtual Fireballs Workshop #2 on Fireball Databases, Lunar Impact Flashes and Machine Learning

Europlanet 2024 RI logo

Virtual Fireballs Workshop #2 on Fireball Databases, Lunar Impact Flashes and Machine Learning

4 February 1:00 pm – 5. February  @ 7:00 pm UTC+2

In cooperation with Europlanet, a series of four workshops bringing together different networks of fireballs observers as well as machine learning experts is taking place over two years. This series aims to culminate into i) the development of a common data format and/or common entry point to the observational data of the different fireballs networks, and ii) machine learning science cases for meteor observations.

The second of these workshops will take place virtually on 4-5 February 2022 and aims towards:

  1. introduce and continue discussing the different fireballs networks, databases and data formats with a strong focus on its technical aspects;
  2. continue discussing and exploring the possibilities of a common data format and/or a common entry point to all data, reports on recent activities;
  3. introduce Lunar impact flashes, observation networks and software;
  4. continue discussing and identifying machine learning science cases for fireball observations.

The workshop will also introduce and discuss Europlanet, its Virtual Observatory for planetary sciences (VESPA; vespa.obspm.fr) and the support it can offer to the fireballs community. Through EPN-TAP services, VESPA currently provides access to more than 50 decentralised databases worldwide, and it might be one option for a common entry point to the different fireballs networks that will be explored over the course of the workshop. In addition, Europlanet also provides support for the development of machine learning science cases, and the fireballs community is invited to discuss potential use cases during the second half of the first meeting. As an outcome, this workshop intends to provide an outline for the next months and to define first tasks towards the overarching meeting goals. The third workshop of the series is intended to be organized in autumn 2022.

Workshop Details

Date: 4-5 February 2022
Workshop Program: https://bit.ly/EPNFireballs2
Registration: https://bit.ly/EPNFireballs2Registration

The registration is open until 16 January 2022.

Organising Committee:

Workshop #1 presentations: Link (click here)

Europlanet Satellite Workshop Series blasts off in Botswana

Europlanet Satellite Workshop Series blasts off in Botswana

Press Release

A workshop that aims to kickstart the creation of a network for planetary science in Africa is being held at the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) this week.  Over 40 people are joining the hybrid meeting virtually, with 25 participants attending the meeting in-person in Palapye. The workshop is organised by the Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure, with funding from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme, under the umbrella of the Europlanet Strategic Plan for Global Collaboration.

The workshop on ‘Satellites for Space Science and Technology in Africa’ brings together space technology specialists, scientists and students to discuss current topics in the rapidly developing field of space. Space has become an attractive frontier for African countries that have launched satellites based on scientific, technological or political ambitions. Satellites are used for Earth observation, communication, navigation atmospheric studies, astronomical observations and military applications, and more. 

The workshop aims to support scientists and engineers at all career stages working to design satellite missions tackling scientific themes and specific target objects. 

The workshop includes lectures, discussion panels and sessions for the exchange of ideas on research relating to satellites, satellite subsystems, aerospace engineering, orbital and attitude dynamics of spacecraft, and spacecraft-environment interactions.

Dr Fulvio Franchi of BIUST said: “We are happy to welcome so many participants to this workshop from across Africa and Europe. We hope that the outcomes of the workshop will lead to sustainable, mutually productive collaborations that will support space and planetary science in Africa for decades to come.”

Prof. Barbara Cavalazzi, of the University of Bologna, who leads the Global Collaboration activities for Europlanet 2024 RI said: “This Training school aims to drive revolutions in thinking, as well as science and technology, at all levels from observations, to mission concept design, to instruments, where the impact must advance our knowledge and accessibility to space at a fundamental level.”

Images

Contacts

Dr Fulvio Franchi
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST)
Private Mail Bag 16, Palapye
Botswana
franchiF@biust.ac.bw

Prof. Barbara Cavalazzi
BiGeA Department
University of Bologna
Via Zamboni 67
Italy
barbara.cavalazzi@unibo.it

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 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 871149 to provide access to state-of-the-art research facilities and a mechanism to coordinate Europe’s planetary science community. The project builds on a €2 million Framework 6 Coordination Action (EuroPlaNet), a €6 million Framework 7 Research Infrastructure (Europlanet RI) and a €10 million Horizon 2020 Research Infrastructure (Europlanet 2020 RI) funded by the European Commission. 

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. 

Europlanet 2024 RI project website: www.europlanet-2024-ri.eu

Europlanet Society website: www.europlanet-society.org   

Follow on Twitter via @europlanetmedia

20-EPN-078: Abrasion test to understand aeolian grain surface evolution on Mars versus Earth – suggestions for ExoMars rover mission

20-EPN-078: Abrasion test to understand aeolian grain surface evolution on Mars versus Earth – suggestions for ExoMars rover mission

Virtual visit by Zsuzsanna Kapui, Eötvös Lorand University ̷ Research Centre for Astronomy and Earth Sciences (Hungary) to TA2.4 Planetary Environment Facilities (PEF), AU (Denmark).
Dates of visit: 2-6 August 2021

Surface microtextures on quartz grains provide good information of the transport medium (ice, river, wind) on Earth, as shape and surface micromorphological features strongly depend on them. A well-developed system has been already used for the quartz grains, but similar detailed studies of basaltic grains have not been conducted before, although this could be relevant for Mars. We aim to develop such a system for olivine grains (main basalt forming mineral). Between 2-6 August 2021, a quartz and an olivine sand grain group (both sized 1 – 2 millimetre) were analysed by wind transport at the AWTSII Wind tunnel facility in Aarhus, Denmark.

A special, self-built box (wind tunnel section with a relatively small cross section) was designed and produced in Hungary to allow periodic transport of the sand grains from one end to the other by a motor driven rotation system. The test started with difficulty because the sands movement did not start, a combination of factors meant that even at the highest fan rotation rate of the AWTSII facility active sand transport was not achieved. Finally, the solution became that the sand holder box in the wind tunnel was also tilted by 24 degrees. The quartz and olivine sands were transported by a mixture of gravitational avalanching and wind driven transport at around 1 bar pressure. Altogether two tests were performed during around four hours to see the attrition process related to grain shapes and surface microstructures. Microscope and webcam videos as well as wind flow data (pitot tube) were collected.

Currently, microscopic analysis with Morphology instrument is underway on the returned particles. The obtained results will be included in an article in progress and in my doctoral dissertation.

Report Summary:

Read full report.


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20-EPN2-121: Constraining the movement of groundwater and fluid expulsion within playa environments on Mars

20-EPN2-121: Constraining the movement of groundwater and fluid expulsion within playa environments on Mars

Visit by Gene Schmidt, Università degli Studi Roma Tre (Italy) and Erica Luzzi, Jacobs University (Germany) to TA1.5 Makgadikgadi Salt Pans (Botswana).
Dates of visit: 20-27 October 2021

Across the surface of Mars there is evidence of past lacustrine and evaporitic environments found within basins and craters, where often layered sedimentary deposits and hydrated minerals are observed. However, the intensity, duration and precise phases of water cycle activity during this period remain unresolved. Although several geological processes and locations on Earth have been previously proposed as examples to describe these deposits on Mars, we lack a strong visualisation of what water activity might have looked like during evaportic stages within basins and craters. The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans of Botswana, where once the Makgadikgadi Lake existed, is a present evaporitic environment rich in hydrated minerals and water activity. It is a depression located at the southwestern end of a northeast-southwest set of graben. Faults have been previously proposed to have been pathways for groundwater to enter basins and craters on Mars, which then contributed to both the deposition and alteration of the sedimentary deposits. Thus, imaging the subsurface of a similar environment on Earth can help us to better understand how water processes on Mars might have continued as the Martian global climate became drier.

By using the already established locations of the faults to the north of the pans, we used remote sensing techniques to trace the best location of the faults underneath the pans (Figures 1 and 2). We then used electrical resistivity surveys to image 70 – 150 m of the pans’ subsurface where the faults were deemed most likely to occur. This work allows us to better understand the possibilities of what the underlying lithology of rocks within filled basins and craters might look like. Furthermore, it demonstrates the scientific importance of future missions to employ subsurface imaging techniques on Mars.

Report Summary:

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20-EPN-034: Calibration of the Al-in-olivine thermometer: Insight into the thermal history of type II chondrules

20-EPN-034: Calibration of the Al-in-olivine thermometer: Insight into the thermal history of type II chondrules

Visit by Thomas van Gerve and Kat Shepherd, KU Leuven (Belgium) to TA2.9 Ion Probe Facility (IPF), CRPG (France).
Dates of visit: 18-22 October 2021

Report Summary:

Chondrites are the most primitive agglomerates formed in the solar system. In this project, we want to develop a thermometer based on Al-in-olivine/spinel equilibrium to calculate the temperature of formation of chondrites. or this project, we have performed a large number of new low- to high-pressure (1 atm – 10 GPa) experiments relevant to chondrule formation at the KU Leuven.

Experiments were run at high temperature (1200-1800°C), under variable oxygen fugacity conditions (IW+1 to IW+5, IW = iron-wustite). From 18-22 October 2021, Thomas van Gerve and Kat Shepherd (KU Leuven) worked with the Cameca IMS 1270 E7 ion probe at CRPG, Nancy, under the supervision of Dr. Johan Villeneuve and M. Nordine Bouden. We have measured the following masses: 12C, 16O1H, 18O, 19F, 27Al, 30Si, 32S and 35Cl in olivine, glass and glass inclusions. During our analytical session, we measured ~ 150 points in olivine and glass in addition to the standards. Results are extremely reproducible and show a trend of slightly increasing Al content in olivine as a function of the Fo content (molar Mg/(Mg+Fe)) of olivine. Using our new SIMS results, we are in the process of developing a thermodynamically rooted model taking into account major components in spinel and olivine.

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Dust Devil Diary

Dust Devil Diary

From 29 September – 6 October 2021, researchers Daniel Toledo and Victor Apestigue (Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (INTA), Spain) were funded by the Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) Transnational Access (TA) programme to visit the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans in Botsawana. The trip was led by Fulvio Franchi (Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST)) who is responsible for the Botswana Planetary Field Analogue for Europlanet 2024 RI. Ignacio Arruego, Javier Martinez-Oter and Felipe Serrano (INTA) also participated in the field trip. In this guest post, Daniel Toledo reports on the field trip.

The main goal of the field campaign in the Makgadikgadi Salts Pans was to study how dust is lifted into the air. For our investigation, we used the spare units of the Radiation and Dust Sensor (RDS) from the NASA Mars 2020 mission and the Sun Irradiance Sensor (SIS) from the ExoMars 2022 mission (see Figure 1), which are designed to study dust carried in the atmosphere of Mars by measuring how sunlight is scattered by the dust particles.

In addition to giving information about the properties of airbourne dust, these instruments are also sensitive to the presence of dust devils – swirling columns of sand and dust that are a common feature of desert areas on Mars and on Earth. RDS and SIS can detect the changes over time in the sky brightness produced by a dust devil, and this offers a unique opportunity for monitoring and studying such events during the Mars 2020 and ExoMars 2022 missions. However, to be able to characterise and interpret dust devil observations on Mars, we first need to understand how dust devils affect SIS and RDS signals by thorough testing and evaluation of the instruments in Mars-like conditions on Earth. 

Figure 1. (Left) RDS instrument: two sets of eight photodiodes. One set is pointed upward, with each photodiode covering a different wavelength range between 250-1000 nanometres. The other set is pointed sideways, 20° above the horizon, and they are spaced 45° degrees apart in azimuth to sample all directions at a single wavelength; a zenith-pointed camera (Skycam) with special optics is designed to measure column optical depth.(Right) SIS instrument: Five detectors pointed at zenith and with different spectral bands and Fields of View (FOVs); twelve lateral detectors (six in the ultraviolet range and six in the near infrared range) pointed sideways; a micro-spectrometer pointed directly upwards (at zenith) with a spectral resolution of 10 nanometres in the 340-780 nanometres range. 
Figure 2. Dust devils observed in Makgadikgadi Salt Pans (left panel) and on Mars (right panel). A typical dust devil on Mars spans from hundreds of metres to thousands of metres in diameter, with a height one-eight times as large. Dust devils of Mars are thought to account for the ~50% of the total dust budget, and they represent continuous source of lifted dust, active even outside the dust storms season. For these reasons, they have been proposed as the main mechanism able to sustain the constantly-observed dust haze in the martian atmosphere.

To achieve this goal, we planned a field campaign from 29 September to 6 October in the southern part of Makgadikgadi Salt Pans (see Figure 3), in the Pan near Mopipi town. This location is characterised by frequent dust devil events and conditions that promote the lifting of high levels of aerosols (dust and particles) into the atmosphere.

Each day of the campaign, we set up RDS and SIS at two different locations from sunrise to sunset, separated by about 25 m, along with:

  1. Two cameras to record panoramic videos during the campaign period.
  2. A Vaisala weather station to perform measurements of pressure, wind direction and intensity, temperature and relative humidity.
  3. A ZEN radiometer to measure how much light was absorbed by the dust at different wavelengths.

The objective of having the two main instruments at two different locations was observe the dust lifting events from different perspectives.

During the campaign, we observed a large number of dust devils (many more than 10) and dust lifting events produced by wind gusts (over 10). For each dust lifting, we recorded the dust devil distance, the size, duration and direction. To do this, we marked out concentric circles with radii of 25, 50, 75, 100, 125 and 150 m on the ground. This information along with the videos made by the cameras, helped us to establish the amount of dust lifted by the dust devil as well as their distances from the instruments. All the data collected for each event was key to establish the RDS and SIS capabilities for dust lifting characterisation on Mars.

The first two days of the campaign were characterised by high dust-loading conditions and frequent formations of dust lifting events produced by dust devils or wind gusts. During these two days, each dust lifting event registered by the cameras was also detected by RDS and SIS, with signals showing a sharp peak at the time when the event passed within the sensors field of view. Preliminary analysis suggests that we can infer from RDS and SIS signals the difference between dust lifting events produced by dust devils and those produced by wind gusts – an important result for the observations on Mars.

Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. Credit: Google
Figure 3. Map indicating the location selected for carrying out the field campaign in the southern part of Makgadikgadi Salt Pans (red square) and the village Rakops (black square) where different lodges are available.

The third day of campaign had to be cancelled due to rain. This resulted in a lower dust-loading conditions in the following days, and thus the amount of dust lifted by vortices or wind gusts was smaller compared to the first two days. 

Upon return to BIUST in Palapye on 6 October, we held a seminar for staff and students titled Atmospheric science on Mars: from Earth analogues to future planetary networks.

In summary, the campaign was a complete success. Our observations have demonstrated the capability of the RDS and SIS sensors to detect and characterise dust devils on Mars. The analysis of the signals along with the information acquired by the other instruments will allow us to quantitatively establish the sensors limit of detection. In addition, the rainy episode offered us the chance to study dust lifting events in different aerosol loading conditions.

Makgadikgadi Salt Pans TA Field Trip, 29 September - 7 October (Spanish Trip - Daniel Toledo)

20-EPN2-065Characterizing dust lifting events using the ground-based Mars-2020-RDS and ExoMars-2022-SIS radiometers. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 871149.

20-EPN2-065: Characterising dust lifting events using ground-based Mars-2020 and ExoMars radiometers

20-EPN2-046: Characterising dust lifting events using the ground-based Mars-2020-RDS and ExoMars-2022-SIS radiometers

Visit by Daniel Toledo, INTA (Spain) to TA1.5 AU Makgadikgadi Salt Pans (Botswana).
Dates of visit: 29 September – 06 October 2021

Report Summary:

On Mars, the airborne dust is a critical factor that drives the weather and climate of the planet. Dust devils are thought to account for the ~50 % of the total dust budget, and they represent a continuous source of dust, present even outside the dust storms period. For these reasons they have been proposed as the main mechanism able to sustain the observed dust haze of the martian atmosphere. However, additional dust devil surveys covering long diurnal periods are needed to place quantitative constraints on the cycles of these events. In this regard, the present and future observations of the Radiation and Dust Sensor (RDS) and the Sun Irradiance Sensor (SIS), which are part of NASA Mars 2020 and ESA/Roscosmos ExoMars 2022 missions, offer a unique opportunity to monitoring dust devils at high temporal resolution from sunrise to sunset, and with an excellent spatial coverage.

The main goal of the field campaign in the Makgadikgadi Salts Pans (20-EPN2-065) was to study dust lifting events using the spare units of RDS and SIS. During the campaign (29 Sept to 6 Oct 2021), a large number of dust devils (>10) and dust lifting events produced by wind gusts (>10) were observed by RDS and SIS sensors. For each case, information on distance, size, temporal duration and direction was registered. This information along with observations made by other instruments (e.g. wind speed and direction), have allowed us to study the potential RDS and SIS capabilities for dust lifting characterisation on Mars.

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EANA Lecture: Prospection for Fossil Life on Mars

EANA Lecture: Prospection for Fossil Life on Mars

Nora Noffke, Old Dominion University, Virginia, USA

December 01, 2021 – 4 pm (CET)

For registration, please follow this link: https://forms.gle/qo8aWSjPo859zAoK7

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Abstract: Clastic sedimentary rocks have long been overlooked with respect to the occurrence of fossil icrobenthos. However, sandstones display a great array of sedimentary structures originally caused by microbial mats interacting with hydraulic and climatological parameters of their paleoenvironment. Modern microbial mats organize their complex internal microfacies by binding, they baffle and trap suspended particles to avoid burial, and they biostabilize their substrate in order to withstand erosion or desiccation. Such interaction results in characteristic microbially induced sedimentary structures (MISS), a group of microbialites of much different morphologies than stromatolites. Because Archean rocks on Earth and Noachian deposits on Mars have approximately the same ages, Archean fossils and biogenic structures constitute valuable biosignatures. The large volume of clastic deposits on Mars calls for the investigation of such lithologies on Earth. Archean sandstones include a wealth of MISS. This presentation discusses the significance of genesis, taphonomy and detectability of terrestrial MISS for the prospection of these biogenic structures in Noachian clastica on Mars.

Nora Noffke is a sedimentologist interested in the interaction of microbenthos with clastic deposits resulting in microbially induced sedimentary structures (MISS). MISS allow insight into prokaryote evolution since the early Archean time. Such structures also serve the life exploration of comparable lithologies on Mars.

Noffke received her training in geology-paleontology at the University of Tuebingen, Germany. As a student of Dolf Seilacher, she specialized in ichnology of clastic deposits, conducting her Diploma research in the Arenigian of the Montagne Noire, France. For her PhD, she joined the working group of Wolfgang Krumbein and Gisela Gerdes, University of Oldenburg. Here, Noffke was exposed to research on modern microbial mats at the North Sea coast, the Red Sea, and the Mediterrean. Returning to the Montagne Noire, she detected fossil MISS. After a year of lecturing at the University of Frankfurt/M., Noffke migrated to the USA, where she studied with Andy Knoll at Harvard University, exploring Neoproterozoic rock successions with respect to MISS. In 2001, Noffke joined the faculty at Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, USA.

The webinar is supported by Europlanet 2024 RI

For more information visit the EANA website.

Fast Track Call for Transnational Access Applications Launched

Fast Track Call for Transnational Access Applications Launched

The first “Fast Track” call for applications for the Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) Transnational Access (TA) programme opens on 1 October 2021. If you are interested in submitting an application, please consult the call page. You will have until 14:00 CET on 3 November 2021 to submit your application.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the TA facilities and field sites from the Europlanet 2024 RI accumulated a large backlog of TA visits and the next official TA call for applications will thus be delayed to Easter 2022.

In the meantime, “Fast Track” TA calls for applications will be implemented to support “emergency applications” only, such as high impact science, career impact (PhD & post docs contracts) or field work only possible over summer 2022. Applicants will be required to first discuss their implementation plan with the TA host facility before submitting their application.

The TA programme supports all travel and local accommodation costs for European and international researchers to visit and conduct research at 24 accredited laboratory facilities in Europe and 7 planetary analogue field sites. The TA programme can support up to two researchers for each visit and can cover a time-period ranging from a few days to several weeks.

Please note that while the Europlanet 2024 RI TA programme is designed to primarily support planetary science and Earth science, applications from other research disciplines are also eligible and will be considered based on innovation and potential scientific and technological impact.

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20-EPN-016: Formation and fate of methyl formate isomers in space

20-EPN-016: Formation and fate of methyl formate isomers in space

Virtual visit by Dr Sergio Ioppolo (Queen Mary University of London, UK) to TA2.11 Atomki Ice Chamber for Astrophysics / Astrochemistry (ICA) (Hungary).
Dates of visit: 12 October 2020 – 31 March 2021

Report Summary: All isomers of C2H4O2, i.e. glycolaldehyde (HCOCH2OH), acetic acid (CH3COOH) and methyl formate (HCOOCH3), have been observed abundantly around the Galactic center, in dark clouds, and hot cores of the interstellar medium (ISM), as well as in some minor ice objects of the Solar System. However, their exact gas-grain formation and destruction pathway is still under debate. According to El-Abd et al. (2019), the observed column densities of methyl formate and acetic acid are well-correlated, and are likely simply tracking the relative total gas mass in star forming regions. Methyl formate and glycolaldehyde, however, display a stark dichotomy in their relative column densities. The latter findingsuggests that different formation/destruction routes are at play for the three isomers. To date, there is a strong laboratory evidence for an efficient production of glycolaldehyde, methyl formate, and acetic acid in the ISM (Gerakines et al. 1996; Bennett and Kaiser 2007; Modica et al. 2012).

During the TA 20-EPN-016 at the ion accelerator facility Atomki in Debrecen (Hungary), we have performed a systematic set of experiments using the novel ultrahigh vacuum ICA end station to investigate the formation and destruction pathways of C2H4O2 isomers and a variety of other interstellar complex organic molecules. The experimental campaign revealed to be successful as all the planned experiments were performed. Results aided the design of new potential key experiments that will be included in a future follow-up beamtime bid at the facility.


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20-EPN2-044: Investigating molecular and isotopic fingerprints of life on Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) cryo-ecosystems with astrobiological interest for icy worlds.

20-EPN2-046: Investigating molecular and isotopic fingerprints of life on Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) cryo-ecosystems with astrobiological interest for icy worlds.

Visit by Laura Sánchez-García, Centro de Astrobiología (INTA-CSIC), Madrid, Spain, to TA1.4 AU Greenland Kangerlussuaq Field Site (Greenland).
Dates of visit: 19-25 July 2021

Report Summary:

Glacial systems are interesting for studying habitability and limits of life. They are extreme environments where indigenous microorganisms may survive prolonged exposure to sub-zero temperatures and background radiation for geological timescales. Glaciers and the surrounding cryo-environments (permafrost, glacial lakes, or melting streams) arise as relevant scenarios for studying the development of functional microbial cryo-ecosystems and may have implications in the search for past or extant life in icy worlds beyond the Earth. In the Solar System, Europa and Enceladus have been recognized as the icy worlds with highest likelihood to harbor life, largely because liquid water could be in contact with rocks. Both satellites are believed to contain a global ocean of salty water under a rigid icy crust that would provide the scenario for an interaction between briny water and rocks, and the conditions for life to arise.

The permanent Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) represents a possible analog of such icy worlds, constituting an important long-term repository of psychrophilic microorganisms. Around the GrIS, different formations such as glacial lakes, permafrost, or further peat soils represent diverse degree of succession upon the influence of the GrIS and its thermal destabilisation.

We propose investigating molecular and isotopic lipid biomarkers of microorganisms inhabiting different cryo-ecosystems at and around the GrIS to obtain clues of a potential life development on analogous extraterrestrial cold environments (ice sheet), and learning how ecosystems evolves (biological succession) when the ice cover retreats and gets exposed to the atmosphere (glacier-melting streams, bedrock-erosion sediments, lake sediments, glacial soils).

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20-EPN-050: 26-Aluminium-26-Magnesium systematics of chondrules and clasts in unequilibriated ordinary chondrites

20-EPN-050: 26-Aluminium-26-Magnesium systematics of chondrules and clasts in unequilibriated ordinary chondrites

In-person visit by Audrey Bouvier (Universität Bayreuth, Germany) to TA2.9 Ion probe facility (IPF), CRPG (France).
Dates of visit: 7-11 June 2021

Chondrules are a major component of chondritic meteorites whose time and mechanism of formation are still debated. Inconsistencies in formation ages of chondrules have been found between ages determined by the absolute Pb-Pb chronometer or using the relative 26Al-26Mg chronometer. While the Pb-Pb ages suggest that chondrules formed continuously for about 4 Ma from the time of CAI formation, the 26Al-26Mg data show evidence that chondrules did not form until about 1.8 Ma after CAIs. One possible explanation could be a heterogeneous distribution of 26Al in the solar nebula.

To evaluate this hypothesis, we used secondary ionization mass spectrometry (SIMS) to date chondrules and clasts from unequilibrated ordinary chondrites with the 26Al-26Mg chronometer. Three chondrules from ordinary chondrites show resolvable excesses in 26Mg due to the decay of 26Al and formed around 2 Ma after CAI formation, consistent with previous studies. Analysis of a large igneous inclusion from Paposo 004 supports a formation age within 1 Ma after CAI. The presence of a relict olivine chondrule in this inclusion provides contextual evidence that chondrule formation must have taken place prior to this time.


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EPSC2021: European facility prepares for haul of samples returning from planetary bodies

EPSC2021: European facility prepares for haul of samples returning from planetary bodies

The Institute of Planetary Research at DLR (German Aerospace Center) is starting construction of a new Sample Analysis Laboratory (SAL) dedicated to the study of rock and dust samples from planetary bodies such as asteroids and the Moon. The first phase will be operational by the end of 2022, on time to welcome samples collected by the Hayabusa2 mission, and fully ready by 2023. A status report will be presented today at the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2021.

The 2020s promise a bounty of new missions returning planetary samples to Earth for analysis. Scientists can learn a huge amount about planetary bodies by sending remote sensing orbiters, and even more by ‘in situ’ exploration with landers and rovers. However, sensitive laboratory instruments on Earth can extract information far beyond the reach of current robotic technology, enabling researchers to determine the chemical, isotopic, mineralogical, structural and physical properties of extra-terrestrial material from just a single, tiny sample. 

‘The SAL facility will allow us to study samples from a macroscopic level down to the nanometric scale and help us answer key question about the formation and evolution of planetary bodies,’ said Dr Enrica Bonato from DLR. ‘Sample return provides us with “ground truth” about the visited body, verifying and validating conclusions that can be drawn by remote sensing. SAL will unlock some really exciting science, like looking for traces of water and organic matter, especially in the samples returned from asteroids. These are remnants of “failed” planets, so provide material that gives insights into the early stages of the Solar System and planetary evolution.’ 

The establishment of SAL has taken three years’ planning and the facility will see its first instruments delivered in summer 2022. The state-of-the art equipment will allow researchers to image the rock samples at very high magnification and resolution, as well as to determine the chemical and mineralogical composition in great detail. The laboratory will be classified as a “super-clean” facility, with a thousand times fewer particles per cubic metre permitted than in a standard clean room. Protective equipment will be worn by everyone entering in order to keep the environment as clean as possible, and SAL will be equipped with glove boxes for handling and preparation of the samples. All samples will be stored under dry nitrogen and transported between the instruments in dry nitrogen filled containers.

Together with other laboratory facilities within the Institute of Planetary Research (including the Planetary Spectroscopy Laboratory and Planetary Analogue Simulation Laboratory), the new SAL will be open to the scientific community for “transnational access” visits supported through the Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure. 

The first studies at SAL will relate to two small, carbonaceous asteroids: Ryugu, samples from which were returned by JAXA’s Hayabusa2 mission in late 2020, and Bennu, from which NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission will deliver samples back to Earth in 2023.

‘Hayabusa2 and OSIRIS-REx are in many ways sister missions, both in the kind of body being visited, and in the close cooperation of scientists and the sponsoring agencies. International collaboration is an important part of the sample return story, and becomes even more key when it comes to analysis,’ said Bonato. ‘We are also looking forward to receiving (and potentially curating) samples from Mars’s moon, Phobos, returned by JAXA’s Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission late in the decade. We also hope to receive samples at SAL from the Moon in the early part of the decade from China’s Chang’E 5 and 6 missions.’

A collaboration with the Natural History Museum and the Helmholtz Center Berlin in Berlin aims to establish an excellence centre for sample analysis in Berlin within the next 5-10 years. In the future, SAL could be expanded into a full curation facility.

‘Returned samples can be preserved for decades and used by future generations to answer questions we haven’t even thought of yet using laboratory instruments that haven’t even been imagined,’ added Jörn Helbert, Department Head of Planetary Laboratories at DLR.

Further Information

Bonato, E., Schwinger, S., Maturilli, A., and Helbert, J.: A New Facility for the Planetary Science Community at DLR: the Planetary Sample Analysis Laboratory (SAL)., Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-561, https://doi.org/10.5194/epsc2021-561, 2021.

Equipment to be installed in SAL:

  • Field Emission Gun Electron Microprobe Analyser (FEG-EMPA)
  • Field Emission Gun Scanning Electron Microscope (FEG-SEM) equipped with:
    • EDX detector for chemical mapping
    • STEM detector
  • X-ray Diffraction (XRD): 
    • Measurements of powders
    • μ-XRD for in situ analysis and mapping
    • Non-ambient stage for dynamic experiments
  • Polarized light microscope
  • Supporting equipment for sample preparation and handling

Information on Transnational Access offered by the Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) can be found at: https://www.europlanet-society.org/europlanet-2024-ri/transnational-access-ta/

Europlanet 2024 RI has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 871149.

SAL follows the approach of a distributed European sample analysis and curation facility as discussed in the preliminary recommendations of EuroCares (European Curation of Astromaterials Returned from Exploration of Space) project, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 640190. 

http://www.euro-cares.eu/

Images

An example of extra-terrestrial material that will be analysed in SAL: the little glass vial is containing about 45 mg of lunar soil (regolith) returned to Earth in 1976 by the robotic soviet mission to the Moon Luna 24. Credit: DLR
An example of extra-terrestrial material that will be analysed in SAL: the little glass vial is containing about 45 mg of lunar soil (regolith) returned to Earth in 1976 by the robotic soviet mission to the Moon Luna 24. Credit: DLR.

https://www.europlanet-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/8K2jO5dC.jpg

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission preparing to touch the surface of asteroid Bennu. Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona.

https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/o-rex_approach.png

Science Contacts

Enrica Bonato
DLR, Berlin, Germany
sal@dlr.de

Jörn Helbert
Department Head of Planetary Laboratories
DLR, Berlin, Germany
Joern.Helbert@dlr.de

Media Contacts

EPSC2021 Press Office
epsc-press@europlanet-society.org

Notes for Editors

About the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 

The Europlanet Science Congress (https://www.epsc2021.eu/) formerly the European Planetary Science Congress, is the annual meeting place of the Europlanet Society. With a track record of 15 years, and regularly attracting around 1000 participants, EPSC is the largest planetary science meeting in Europe. It covers the entire range of planetary sciences with an extensive mix of talks, workshops and poster sessions, as well as providing a unique space for networking and exchanges of experiences.

Follow on Twitter via @europlanetmedia and using the hashtag #EPSC2021.

EPSC2021 is sponsored by Space: Science & Technology, a Science Partner Journal.

About Europlanet

Since 2005, Europlanet (www.europlanet-society.org) 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 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 871149 to provide access to state-of-the-art research facilities and a mechanism to coordinate Europe’s planetary science community. 

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 European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC).

About DLR

DLR is the Federal Republic of Germany’s research centre for aeronautics and space. We conduct research and development activities in the fields of aeronautics, space, energy, transport, security and digitalisation. The German Space Agency at DLR plans and implements the national space programme on behalf of the federal government. Two DLR project management agencies oversee funding programmes and support knowledge transfer.

Climate, mobility and technology are changing globally. DLR uses the expertise of its 55 research institutes and facilities to develop solutions to these challenges. Our 10,000 employees (as of February 2021) share a mission – to explore Earth and space and develop technologies for a sustainable future. In doing so, DLR contributes to strengthening Germany’s position as a prime location for research and industry.

Workshop Registration Now Open: Satellite for Space Science and Technology in Africa

Workshop Registration Now Open: Satellite for Space Science and Technology in Africa

Registration Deadline: 12 November 2021

Travel grant application deadline: 17 October 2021

Registration is now open for the workshop ‘Satellite for Space Science and Technology in Africa‘, which will take place from 15-19 November 2021 in Palapye, Botswana, and online.

This first Europlanet WorkshopSeries on Satellite for Space Science and Technology in Africa will bring together space tech specialists, scientists and students to discuss current topics in this rapidly developing space field. This workshop format is focusing on content and collaboration, and targets to create an African network in planetary science.

Europlanet WorkshopSeries aims to inspire and encourage planetary science and space technology development across borders in developed and developing countries and across the spectrum of academia, industry and civil society. 

Physical participation is open to applicants from Botswana only. Virtual participation is open to all, but there will be a limit on participation and priority will be given to African participants.

Travel grants

The Europlanet WorkshopSeries links travel grants to selected applicants who intend to physically attend the workshop. However, due to Covid-19, the physical presence can only be allowed to applicants from Botswana, and can not be guaranteed due to current Covid-19 regulations.

Not just a travel grant! The Europlanet Workshop Series grants will provide opportunities for leveraging on established research networks to directly contribute to the applicant’s current research and career.

Visit the website

Download the brochure.

Europlanet WorkshopSeries is an initiative under the umbrella of the Global Collaboration and Integration Development program of Europlanet 2024 RI.

Observational alerts issued for NA2

Observational alerts issued for NA2 during Reporting Period 1.

The observational alerts issued through PVOL for NA2 were followed by over 200 active observers. The alerts are also sent through the hstjupiter list on groups.io, which has 64 members including highly active astro-photographers. Each of these alerts has generated new observations by observers., i.e.:  

31st March 2020: Storm Activity on Saturn’s North Polar Region. Active follow-up by Trevor Barry (Australia), Clyde Foster (South Africa) and Christopher Go (Philippines). 

31st May 2020: Jupiter Storm in the South Temperate Belt. Active follow-up by many observers over June-July. 

3rd July 2020: Amateur Support to Venus Research. Active follow-up with tens of images by amateur astronomers: J. Camarena (Spain), M. Kardasis (Greece), L. Morrone (Italy). 

18th August 2020: New Storm in the North Tropical Zone-North Temperate Belts Jetstream. This was a major event in Jupiter atmospheric dynamics and attracted large interest from the amateur community. Follow-up observations were obtained by several observers with initial coordination from PVOL later, with analysis by multiple active observers from many different countries, resulting in hundreds of observations uploaded into PVOL. 

18th September 2020: Jupiter’s North Temperate Belt Plume and Turbulent Wake Interaction. This was a continuation of the previous alert. 

13th October 2020: BepiColombo Flyby of Venus: Request for observations. Active follow-up by amateur astronomers: J. Camarena (Spain), M. Kardasis (Greece), L. Morrone (Italy).

29th July 2020: The possible detection of a volcanic plume at Io by J.-L. Dauvergne (France) could, If proven true, be the first detection of a volcanic plume in Io from ground-based observations although hot volcanic spots are regularly detected with large (8-m) telescopes with Adaptive Optics and volcanic plumes have been observed from space with HST. Three further observations by amateur astronomers following our observational alert on 5th August 2021 may indeed show some signatures of the volcanic plume with lower quality, but further scientific assessment will be needed and performed in September 2021.

Banner image: Jupiter GRS and STB outreach. Credit: Christopher Go.