Issue 6 of the Europlanet Magazine is out now!

Issue 6 of the Europlanet Magazine is out now!

In this issue:

In Focus

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

Cover of issue 6 of the Europlanet Magazine.
Cover of Issue 6 of the Europlanet Magazine.

• New Board Members of the Europlanet Society
• New EPEC Co-Chairs
• Join us on Discord!
• DPS-EPSC Joint Meeting 2023
• EPSC in Berlin and Beyond!
• GMAP Winter School
• Europlanet at Space Tech Expo Europe
• European Space Weather Week
• 1st Europlanet Latin America Workshop
• Europlanet Committee Funding Scheme Results 2023
• Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement 2023
• Farinella Prize 2023
• Students as Planetary Defenders
• Blink of a Star
• Polish Experiments to Fly on ISS
• EXPLORE Apps for Lunar, Stellar & Galactic Research

Machine Learning for a Data Driven Era of Planetary Science 

Stavro Ivanovski (INAF-Trieste Astronomical Observatory, Italy), Angelo Pio Rossi (Constructor University, Germany), Jeronimo Bernard-Salas (ACRI-ST, France), and Anita Heward (DFET, UK) look at how Machine Learning (ML) is revolutionising planetary science

Planetary Perspectives: Meet the New Europlanet Society Board

This edition of Planetary Perspectives finds out more about interests, backgrounds and ambitions for the Europlanet Society of the members of the Executive Board elected and taking up new roles in November 2023. 

Supporting Astronomy in Ukraine

Gražina Tautvaišienė (Vilnius University, Lithuania), describes how a Europlanet programme is supporting Ukrainian colleagues to continue their research.

ERIM 2023: A New Kind of Europlanet Meeting 

Anita Heward (Chair of the ERIM Organising Committee and Europlanet Sustainability Committee) reports on how the Europlanet Research Infrastructure Meeting (ERIM) in Bratislava has helped to lay the foundations for a sustainable Europlanet. 

EPEC Annual Week: A Melting Pot of Ideas 

James McKevitt (University of Vienna, Austria and UCL, UK) reflects on the outcomes of the Europlanet Early Career event, EPEC Annual Week, held in Bratislava, Slovakia in June 2023. 

Bridging the Gap Between Policy and Science 

The Europlanet Policy Team reports on a policy workshop that took place as part of the Europlanet Research Infrastructure Meeting (ERIM) 2023 last June. 

The Ecological Footprint of Astronomy 

Thibaut Roger (University of Bern, Switzerland) reports on a session at ERIM to initiate a discussion about the ecological impact of astronomy and planetary research activities 

ERIM Goes to Schools 

Thibaut Roger (University of Bern, Switzerland) and Barbara Cavalazzi (University of Bologna, Italy) bring astrobiology and planetary science to schools in Bratislava.

Diving into the Heavens: The Solar System Scope Project 

Jozef Bodlak (Solar System Scope) tells the story behind the Solar System Scope – an app that takes users on an immersive journey with the aim of bringing the grandeur of space to the fingertips of people around the world. 

The Making of ‘The Making of Juice’ 

Maarten Roos-Serote (Lightcurve Films, Portugal) shares a unique view behind the scenes of the making of the Juice mission

Molėtai Magic 

Alejandro Luis García Muñoz reports on the Europlanet Summer School 2023 at the Molėtai Astronomical Observatory in Lithuania. 

Orionids Workshop 2023 

Miloš Obert, Chair of the Slovak Union of Astronomers, reports on the Orionids 2023 astro-camp on meteor observations. 

Dusting the Moon 

Karolien Lefever and Sylvain Ranvier (BIRA-IASB, Belgium) report on DUSTER, a project that gets to grips with lunar dust in preparation for future exploration missions. 

Commkit – The Dream of AI

Thibaut Roger (University of Bern, Switzerland) examines how AI can be useful for scientific outreach and communication, as well as the limitations.

The Last Word – Europlanet: A Page Turns 

Ann Carine Vandaele, President of the Europlanet Society, reflects on sustainability plans for Europlanet

BepiColombo Spies Escaping Oxygen and Carbon in Unexplored Region of Venus’s Magnetosphere

BepiColombo Spies Escaping Oxygen and Carbon in Unexplored Region of Venus’s Magnetosphere

A fleeting visit of the ESA/JAXA BepiColombo mission to Venus has revealed surprising insights into how gases are stripped away from the upper layers of the planet’s atmosphere. 

Detections in a previously unexplored region of Venus’s magnetic environment show that carbon and oxygen are being accelerated to speeds where they can escape the planet’s gravitational pull.  The results have been published today in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Lina Hadid, CNRS researcher at the Plasma Physics Laboratory (LPP) and lead author of the study said: “This is the first time that positively charged carbon ions have been observed escaping from Venus’s atmosphere. These are heavy ions that are usually slow moving, so we are still trying to understand the mechanisms that are at play. It may be that an electrostatic ‘wind’ is lifting them away from the planet, or they could be accelerated through centrifugal processes.”

Unlike Earth, Venus does not generate an intrinsic magnetic field in its core. Nonetheless, a weak, comet-shaped ‘induced magnetosphere’ is created around the planet by the interaction of charged particles emitted by Sun (the solar wind) with electrically charged particles in Venus’s upper atmosphere. Draped around the magnetosphere is a region called the ‘magnetosheath’ where the solar wind is slowed and heated.

On 10 August 2021, BepiColombo passed by Venus to slow down and adjust course towards its final destination of Mercury. The spacecraft swooped up the long tail of Venus’s magnetosheath and emerged through the nose of the magnetic regions closest to the Sun. Over a 90-minute period of observations, BepiColombo’s instruments measured the number and mass of charged particles it encountered, capturing information about the chemical and physical processes driving atmospheric escape in the flank of the magnetosheath.

Early in its history, Venus had many similarities to Earth, including significant amounts of liquid water. Interactions with the solar wind have stripped away the water, leaving an atmosphere composed mainly of carbon dioxide and smaller amounts of nitrogen and other trace species. Previous missions, including NASA’s Pioneer Venus Orbiter and ESA’s Venus Express have made detailed studies of the type and quantity of molecules and charged particles that are lost into space. However, the missions’ orbital paths left some areas around Venus unexplored and many questions still unanswered.

Data for the study were obtained by BepiColombo’s Mass Spectrum Analyzer (MSA) and the Mercury Ion Analyzer (MIA) during the spacecraft’s second Venus flyby. The two sensors are part of the Mercury Plasma Particle Experiment (MPPE) instrument package, which is carried by Mio, the JAXA-led Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter.

“Characterising the loss of heavy ions and understanding the escape mechanisms at Venus is crucial to understand how the planet’s atmosphere has evolved and how it has lost all its water,” said Dominique Delcourt, researcher at LPP and the Principal Investigator of the MSA instrument. 

Europlanet’s SPIDER space weather modelling tools enabled the researchers to track how the particles propagated through the Venusian magnetosheath.

“This result shows the unique results that can come out of measurements made during planetary flybys, where the spacecraft may move through regions generally unreachable by orbiting spacecraft,” said Nicolas André, of the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (IRAP) and lead of the SPIDER service.

A fleet of spacecraft will investigate Venus over the next decade, including ESA’s Envision mission, NASA’s VERITAS orbiter and DAVINCI probe, and India’s Shukrayaan orbiter. Collectively, these spacecraft will provide a comprehensive picture of the Venusian environment, from the magnetosheath, down through the atmosphere to the surface and interior.

“Recent results suggest that the atmospheric escape from Venus cannot fully explain the loss of its historical water content. This study is an important step to uncover the truth about the historical evolution of the Venusian atmosphere, and upcoming missions will help fill in many gaps,” added co-author, Moa Persson of the Swedish Institute of Space Physics.

Publication details:

Hadid et al. BepiColombo observations of oxygen and carbon ions in the flank of Venus induced magnetosphere. Nature Astronomy, 12 April 2024.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-024-02247-2

DOI: 10.1038/s41550-024-02247-2

Images

Schematic view of planetary material escaping through Venus magnetosheath flank. The red line and arrow show the region and direction of observations by BepiColombo when the escaping ions (C+, O+, H+) were observed.
Schematic view of planetary material escaping through Venus magnetosheath flank. The red line and arrow show the region and direction of observations by BepiColombo when the escaping ions (C+, O+, H+) were observed. Credit: Thibaut Roger/Europlanet 2024 RI/Hadid et al.

Download image file as: JPG | PNG | PDF

Science Contacts

Dr Lina Hadid
Laboratoire de Physique des Plasmas (LPP)
Palaiseau
France
lina.hadid@lpp.polytechnique.fr

Dr Dominique Delcourt
Laboratoire de Physique des Plasmas (LPP)
Palaiseau
France
dominique.delcourt@lpp.polytechnique.fr

Dr Moa Persson
Institutet för Rymdfysik (IRF)
Swedish Institute of Space Physics
Uppsala
Sweden
moa.persson@irf.se

Dr Nicolas André
Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (IRAP)
Toulouse
France
Nicolas.andre@irap.omp.eu

Media Contacts

Anita Heward
Press Officer
Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI)
+44 7756 034243
aheward@europlanet-society.org

Thibaut Roger
Press Officer
Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI)
thibaut.roger@science-elegance.com

Further Information

About ISAS/JAXA

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.

Web: https://www.isas.jaxa.jp/en/

Twitter: @ISAS_JAXA_EN

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

Juice Science Webinar Series: Juice One Year After Launch

Juice Science Webinar Series: Juice One Year After Launch – News and Outlook

Webinar: 12 April 2024, 14:00 CEST

On the 14th April 2023, JUICE was launched from Kourou by the last but one Ariane 5 rocket. It will spend around 8 years travelling before reaching its destination: the Jupiter system and its icy moons. One year after launch, and it is time to discuss what has been done with the JUICE team and what is the prospect for the coming years. The cruise phase from Earth to Jupiter could be perceived as eventless, we will show that this is far from the case!

This series is organised in collaboration with the Europlanet Society.

Register now!

20-EPN2-116: Hypervelocity Impacts for DISC Calibration

20-EPN2-116: HIDISCC (Hypervelocity Impacts for DISC Calibration)

Visit by Vincenzo Della Corte, Osservatorio Astronomico Capodimonte Napoli, INAF (Italy), to TA2.7 Light Gas Gun Laboratory, University of Kent (UK)
Dates of visit: 27-29 March 2023

Report summary: The Comet Interceptor space mission is to launch in 2029 to study a dynamically new comet. Two of the three spacecraft involved will host copies of the Dust Impact Sensor and Counter
(DISC), which will measure the physical properties of cometary dust. The spacecraft’s velocity (7-70 km/s) will result in hypervelocity dust impacts on DISC. Combined with the range of dust particle sizes, this will create a wide range of impact momentum (10-11–10-3 kg/m/s). To cover the upper part of the momentum range, DISC calibration will be performed with hypervelocity simulated impacts induced by lasers. To perform DISC characterization and calibration in the lower momentum range, we carried out experiments at the Light Gas Gun Impact Facility at the University of Kent (UK).
To calibrate DISC and check the sensing element formed by the aluminum plate and the
piezoelectric transducers:

  • We performed 9 shots at the Light Gas Gun Impact Facility at the University of Kent.
    We used different particle sizes and materials and different speeds, utilising different
    approaches, i.e. single particles with diameters down to 400 nm and buck-shots of a
    mixture of minerals and very light hollow spheres.
  • The signals from the piezoelectrics will be used to verify DISC estimated
    performance and enable a generally-valid impact sensor calibration procedure.
    All 9 shots provided signals, this was for both single impacts and multiple buck- shot impacts.
    The results of the experiment confirmed the capability of the instrument to measure the
    momentum of particles impacting in the hypervelocity range.

Read the full scientific report, with kind permission from Vincenzo Della Corte.


Inaugural Workshop on Nuclear Astrochemistry

Inaugural Workshop on Nuclear Astrochemistry

An inaugural workshop on Nuclear Astrochemistry has taken place this week at the European Centre for Theoretical Studies in Nuclear Physics and Related Areas (ECT*) in Trento, Italy.  The aim of the workshop is to introduce the ideas of this new interdisciplinary field, connecting the disparate fields of nuclear physics, astrochemistry and planet formation.

The workshop, the first of its kind, has brought leading experts together with early career researchers who will develop the nuclear astrochemistry field through observations (using JWST), theoretical models and simulations and laboratory studies to address the fundamental questions of how the elements and molecules of life are created in the universe and the consequences for the search for life beyond Earth and our Solar System.

Participants in the Inaugural Workshop on Nuclear Astrochemistry
Participants in the Inaugural Workshop on Nuclear Astrochemistry

The workshop was supported by the Extreme Matter Institute (EMMI), Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI), the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams – Theory Alliance (FRIB-TA) and ChETEC-INFRA.

Find out more

Join the VESPA 2024 Warsaw Workshop – Extended Deadline

Join the VESPA 2024 Warsaw Workshop – Extended Deadline for Open Call for Planetary Science Projects! 

We are delighted to extend an invitation to the scientific community for the VESPA 2024 open call, a unique opportunity to play a pivotal role in advancing Planetary Science and Solar System data accessibility. Aligned with the Europlanet 2024 RI programme, the VESPA activity is dedicated to creating an interoperable system grounded in the principles of Open Science. Here are three compelling reasons to consider participating in the VESPA 2024 open call:

  1. Amplify Your Impact: By joining the open call, you have the opportunity to contribute to the expansion of the VESPA interface. Up to 5 projects will be selected, allowing you to showcase your expertise and significantly enhance the data content available to the scientific community.
  2. Guidance and Collaboration: If your project is selected, you will be invited to a face-to-face workshop at the Space Research Centre Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, Poland, from April 22 to 26, 2024. This workshop will provide a unique opportunity to collaborate with experts and receive guidance in designing and setting up your project. Follow-up teleconferences in March/April 2024 will further support the finalization of the selected services.
  3. Contribute to Open Science: The VESPA initiative aligns with the principles of Open Science, fostering transparency, collaboration, and accessibility. By participating, you actively contribute to the development of an interoperable system that promotes the sharing of Planetary Science and Solar System data, advancing the field as a whole.

Don’t miss this chance to be at the forefront of cutting-edge research and make a lasting impact on Planetary Science. Submit your project proposal for the VESPA 2024 open call and be part of a community dedicated to advancing our understanding of the Solar System.

The deadline for proposals has been extended to 8 March 2024.

For more information and to submit your project proposal, visit the VESPA 2024 Open Call Website.

Call for Submission – Atlas of Planetary Geological Maps

Call for Submission – Atlas of Planetary Geological Maps

The Europlanet 2024 RI GMAP infrastructure has opened a call for contributions for an Atlas of Planetary Geological Maps.

The Atlas aims to provide examples of geological maps of planets and small bodies to highlight different mapping approaches and adopted methodologies in various environments and for different purposes.
This collection is thought to provide guidance and inspiration to students and scientists willing to approach geological mapping in different planetary contexts. Thus, contributions focused on specific mapping tools and workflows will be warmly welcome.

Planetary Mapping illustration.
Banner and Illustration: Image Creator from Designer (Bing/DALL-E)

Given the didactic purpose of the volume, the maps can be also excerpts of already published maps, but they must be focused on definite geological environments and specifically accompanied with thoughtful explanations of the adopted work-flows and mapping tools.

The volume will have an ISBN number provided by ISPRA through the Geological Survey of Italy.

All the geological maps selected for the Atlas, and their underlying datasets, will also be included in the Europlanet-GMAP data portal, and relevant repositories for public use.

The volume will have a format of A4 cm with A3 maps. The exact number of pages for each contribution will be defined after having received the indications of interest.

As reference for the foreseen final product, you can check the ISPRA atlas “Mapping Geology in Italy”.

The received manuscripts will be revised by the editors, we do not foresee external reviews, specifically for already published maps, and map-related scientific results.

The final PDF will be openly accessible online.

Hard copies will be limited in number.

An indication of interest to submit your mapping work with a brief description of the topic should be sent to lucia.marinangeli@unich.it by Feb. 29.

Tentative Timeline:

Indication of Interest: February 29, 2024
Submission deadline: 15 May 2024
Contributions acceptance: June 2024
Advance publication of contributions Summer 2024

Editor:

Lucia Marinangeli and Marco Pantaloni – lead editors (& contacts)

Matteo Massironi, Riccardo Pozzobon, Angelo Pio Rossi, Monica Pondrelli, Pierre-Antoine Tesson, Ivan López Ruiz-Labranderas, Giulia Alemanno

22-EPN3-006: An Isotopic Inventory of Mars analogue environments

22-EPN3-006: An Isotopic Inventory of Mars analogue environments

Visit by Michael Macey and Daniel Loy (OU, UK) to TA1.5 Makgadikgadi Salt Pans (Botswana).
Dates of visit: 17-25 January 2024

An international team of scientists from The Open University (OU) and the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) conducted fieldwork across the Makgadikgadi Basin. The aim of the research conducted was to collect sediment cores and water samples to assess how viability of sulfur-cycling microbes varies across a gradient of salinities, desiccation, and UV-exposure, and how this might impact the formation of biosignatures. The timing of the trip allowed sampling across a spectrum of fluctuating environmental stressors in terms of the availability of water. During the trip, a total of 16 x 30 cm cores were collected for geochemical and microbiological characterisation. Furthermore, environmental variables were taken with pH, temperature, conductivity, redox potential, and UV monitored.  The trip was a success, with the collection of ideal samples to identify the relative abundance and diversity of sulfur cycling microbes across this analogue environment. 

Read the full scientific report with kind permission by Michael Macye and Daniel Loy.


1st Planetary Science Workshop in Bolivia

1st Planetary Science Workshop in Bolivia

The first planetary science workshop in Bolivia is underway! The workshop is being held over four days at the Institute for Geological and Environmental Research (Instituto de Investigaciones Geologicas y del Medio Ambiente UMSA) in La Paz, Bolivia.

The purpose of the workshop is to provide tools for the processing and mapping of planetary surfaces, exploring different planets and analogous environments in Bolivia and Latin America.

Catch up on YouTube:

20-EPN2-098: Constraining the Thermal History of Water-Rich Asteroids Using Noble Gas Analysis of Heated CM Chondrites

20-EPN2-098: Constraining the Thermal History of Water-Rich Asteroids Using Noble Gas Analysis of Heated CM Chondrites

Visit by Ashley King and Helena Bates (Natural History Museum, UK) to TA2.15 ETH Zurich Geo- and Cosmochemistry Isotope Facility (Switzerland).
Dates of visit: 28 November – 08 December 2022

Report Summary:

In this TA visit, the team investigated the abundance and isotopic composition of noble gases (He – Xe) in CM chondrites that record both aqueous and thermal metamorphism. These unusual meteorites are likely good analogues for the types of material found on the surfaces of primitive C-type asteroids; however, the timing and mechanism of the metamorphism remains unknown.

The team measured He – Xe in five CM chondrites that experienced peak metamorphic temperatures of <300°C to >750°C using stepped-heating and the “ALBATROS” mass spectrometer at the ETH Zürich Geo- and Cosmochemistry Noble Gas Laboratory. Preliminary results show that the concentrations of 4He and 22Ne are depleted in the lowest temperature steps (300 and 450°C) for all samples, consistent with degassing during (a) metamorphic event(s). Peaks in the concentration of both light and heavy noble gases in the 660°C and 800°C steps agree with previous estimates of metamorphic temperatures based on mineralogy and H2O loss. Isotopic compositions are mainly a mixture of primordial (so-called Q/HL) and cosmogenic components. In addition, EET 96029 and WIS 91600 contain a trapped solar wind component, suggesting that these meteorites may have been heated by impacts during residence in the asteroid regolith. Comparison of the data to unheated CM chondrites will be used to further constrain the thermal history of C-type asteroids in the early Solar System.

Read the full scientific report with kind permission by Ashley King and Helena Bates.


22-EPN3-019: Investigation of Ceres Bright Spots

22-EPN3-019: Investigation of Ceres Bright Spots – VIS-NIR Spectral Simulation of Haulani bright Areas by Means of Spectral Analysis on Produced Analogue Mixtures

Visit by Fabrizio Dirri and Giuseppe Massa (INAF-IAPS, Italy) to TA2.8 CSS (Cold Surfaces Spectroscopy) at IPAG (France).
Dates of visit: 22 May – 03 June 2023

Report Summary: In this project different bright areas of Haulani crater (i.e. Southern floor and Central Crater Peak, named ROI3 and ROI1) on Ceres have been studied by producing different analogue mixtures starting from previous results and comparing them with Dawn VIR data. The end-members have been identified based on previous studies (Tosi et al. 2018, Dirri et al. 2022) and the analogue mixtures have been produced with grain size 50-100 µm. The two initial mixtures, i.e. SF1 and CCP_#1 have been acquired in the VIS-NIR spectral range (0.4-4.5 µm) at T environment. The Band Center, Band Depth and FWHM of absorption bands at 2.7, 3.1, 3.4 µm, spectral slope (1.2-1.9 µm range) and reflectance level at 2.1 µm of the produced SFs and CCPs mixtures have been analysed and then compared with VIR data.

The best analogues are the SF_#5 and CCP_#6 mixtures and their spectra have been acquired at low temperatures, i.e. from 190K to 230K, similar to Haulani base temperature by using Cold Spectroscopy Facility (CSS) (IPAG, France). These mixtures exhibit values for the 2.7BD (Antigorite, Illite), 3.1BD (NH4-Montmorillonite) and 3.4 BD (NaCO3) similar to Haulani ROI3 and ROI1. In particular, different dark components have been used (i.e. magnetite plus carbon black) with the aims of better reproducing the Haulani spectral slope and reflectance level. Different carbonates mix involving trona, dolomite, hydrous and anhydrous natrite have been studied to assess their contribution to 2.7 µm spectral band and the three minima at 3.33, 3.42, 3.52 µm of Haulani ROI3.


22-EPN3-038: Asteroidal source(s) of L chondrites and its collisional evolution

22-EPN3-038: Asteroidal source(s) of L chondrites and its collisional evolution – U,Pb geochemistry of phosphates in meteorite Antonin.

Visit by Monika Kusiak (Institute of Geophysics Polish Academy of Sciences (IG PAS), Poland) and Agata Krzesinska (University of Oslo) to TA2 Facility 26 – KBSI Sensitive High Resolution Ion MicroProbe / SHRIMP-IIe/MC (South Korea).
Dates of visit: 12-23 May 23

Report Summary: The main goal of the visit was to conduct in-situ U-Pb geochronological study of phosphate minerals in the Antonin L chondrite. Fall of the Antonin, on 15th July 2021, was recorded by European Fireball Network, and this recording led to reconstruction of the pre-atmospheric orbit of meteoroid. The orbital parameters of the Antonin differ from reconstructed orbits of other L chondrites, but suggest it was sourced from the inner asteroid belt. To track the orbit to the parent body, it is important to understand dynamic collisions experienced, which are recorded in minerals of the meteorite. U-Pb dating allows to decipher details on events that led to resetting of phosphates.

During the visit to KBSI facility, we collected SHRIMP (Sensitive High-Resolution Ion MicroProbe) analyses within multiple apatite and merrillite grains. Initial U-Pb results show minor discordance of ages of phosphates, indicating a mild collision after the crystallization of the minerals. The timing of reset event cannot be inferred with high precision, but it likely occurred between 500–100 Ma.

Additionally, formation of phosphates can be well constrained from collected data at ca. 4450 Ma. This age implies that phosphates formed/recrystallized in response to a collision as impacts were the only source of heat after cessation of accretional activity. Altogether, the results suggest two collisions in the evolution of parent body and will be combined with further data to pinpoint key events in dynamical evolution of parent body of L chondrites.


22-EPN3-008: U/Pb-Dating of the Youngest Eclogites on Earth

22-EPN3-008: U/Pb-Dating of the Youngest Eclogites on Earth.

Visit by Linus Streichers and Willem van Westrenen (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands) to TA2 Facility 26 – KBSI Sensitive High Resolution Ion MicroProbe / SHRIMP-IIe/MC (South Korea).
Dates of visit: 05 April 2023 – 01 May 23

Report Summary: A total of 184 U-Pb-ages of zircon from eclogites from Sulu-Dabie UHP metamorphic belt (China), the D’Entrecasteaux Islands (Papua New Guinea) and the Western Gneiss Region (Norway) were successfully determined using the SHRIMP IIe/mc of the Korean Basic Science Institute.

Using the concordia method, we could identify a concordant age of the peak metamorphism of eclogite from Sulu-Dabie of ca. 240 Ma. In addition, a discordant age of around 720 Ma could be identified, which may reflect the age of inherited, magmatic zircon cores. The zircon from the D’Entrecasteaux Islands revealed ages below 8 Ma, which is younger than ages previously measured on the same sample in a previous study. This makes this sample one of the youngest eclogites ever discovered on Earth’s surface. Zircons from the Western Gneiss Region reveal ages of three distinct events. With 1.5 Ga, the oldest age determined probably reflects the Precambrian formation of the UHP region, while ages of around ca.

900 Ma correspond with the Sveconorwegian orogeny. The youngest age found in Norway reflects the Scandian orogeny at an age of ca. 415 Ma. The age information obtained will help us to develop improved evolutionary models for the formation of UHP rocks by combining these ages with trace element data.


20-EPN2-057: A Zircon Provenance Study of the Kanye Basin (Botswana) to Constrain Terrestrial Geodynamics Across the Archaean-Proterozoic Transition

20-EPN2-057: A Zircon Provenance Study of the Kanye Basin (Botswana) to Constrain Terrestrial Geodynamics Across the Archaean-Proterozoic Transition.

Virtual visit by Denice Borsten and Jochem Sikkes (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands) to TA2 Facility 26 – KBSI Sensitive High Resolution Ion MicroProbe / SHRIMP-IIe/MC (South Korea).
Dates of visit: 23 September 2021 -17 February 2022

Report Summary: This study investigates the Neoarchaean to Paleoproterozoic Transvaal Supergroup sedimentary sequence in Botswana that formed in the centre of the Kaapvaal Craton during the early oxygenation of the atmosphere. We used U-Pb dating on magmatic and sedimentary zircons from throughout the sedimentary sequence to determine the tectono-magmatic evolution of the hinterland basement. This approach constrains regional crustal growth, uplift and erosion events and establishes if additional cratons were in the hinterland, e.g. Pilbara. Knowledge of zircon provenance will allow critical comparison to known tectonic scenarios, e.g. Alpine style molasse basin and any potential change in Neoarchaean tectonics by considering erosion and crustal growth-reworking. The geochronology results help evaluate spatial and temporal variations in depositional environments associated with oxygenation of the atmosphere. Results indicate that the age of the basement, Gaborone Granite and the Kanye volcanic are indistinguishable (2768.9 ± 6.0 Ma). Sediments deposited from 2.642 Ga to 2.550 Ga are also dominated (> 90%) by zircons of ~2.77 Ga. This implies that there was a major crustal growth event in the Kanye region at 2.77 Ga that included minimal crustal reworking. Erosion products to the Kanye Basin are derived from this juvenile crust throughout the Archaean and Proterozoic until > 2.0 Ga.  Only then are older and younger basement rocks recorded in the sedimentary sequence. This region of the planet yields no evidence of a major tectono-magmatic event associated with the oxygenation of the atmosphere. 


22-EPN3-041: Study of the Dust Lifting Phenomena and Electrification Processes in a Martian Analogue Site

22-EPN3-041: Study of the Dust Lifting Phenomena and Electrification Processes in a Martian Analogue Site

Visit by Gabriele Franzese (INAF-OACN, Italy) and Hezi Yizhaq (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel) to TA1.5 Makgadikgadi Salt Pans (Botswana).
Dates of visit: 24 July – 02 August 2023

We performed a field campaign in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, during the dry season, to study the local dust lifting events and test a space designed dust sensor. With these purposes, we deployed a fully equipped meteorological station with the addition of a camera system and of the MicroMED sensor, the Optical Particle Counter selected on board of the ExoMars programme to characterise in situ the martian airborne dust. Here we used the terrestrial version of MicroMED, fully representative of its Martian counterpart.

We spent one week between two sites, facing different soil and wind conditions and successfully achieving both aspects of the campaign. MicroMED was indeed able to automatically operate using a preloaded acquisition schedule during day and night, in a range going from clear to highly loaded dust conditions. The campaign has hence been truly representative of the martian expected scenario and the
data will be useful for further tuning the sensor and its functioning pipeline. Moreover, MicroMED acquisitions are precious also for studying the dust lifting events, in combination with all the other installed sensors. We were indeed able to monitor two days of intense dust devil activity, performing also an image survey of the events. The acquired data are promising, being under various aspects totally new to the literature. They can hence lead to highly improve our knowledge of the dust lifting phenomenon, regarding in particular the induced electric field

Read the full scientific report with kind permission by Gabriele Franzese.


22-EPN3-026: Life detection and biosignature preservation studies via lipid biomarker analysis in Makgadikgadi Salt Pan

22-EPN3-026: Life detection and biosignature preservation studies via lipid biomarker analysis in Makgadikgadi Salt Pan

Visit by Pablo Finkel and Laura Sánchez García (Centro de Astrobiología (CAB), CSIC-INTA, Spain) to TA1.5 Makgadikgadi Salt Pans (Botswana).
Dates of visit: 02-09 October 2023

In large evaporitic basins such as the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans in Botswana, a series of strategies that promote the long-term preservation of lipids take place in its immediate subsurface: protective mineral-organics interactions, halite encapsulations within matrices, salt-derived enzymatic inhibition, cellular adaptations, and entombment by chemical precipitation of minerals. These strategies, plus the high preservation potential of lipid biomarkers, crafts a recipe for optimism in regard to the state of the lipids found in Makgadikgadi, whose degradation may be effectively attenuated as their preservation is enhanced.

The main goal of this project was to collect different types of samples from the pans to characterise their lipid biomarker content to a) identify biological (molecular and isotopic) features and b) to assess lipid preservation and/or degradation. Samples with protective matrices suitable for organics preservation include halite crusts, xero-mineral matrix and silcretes from Sua Pan, as well as silcretes, calcretes and mineral precipitates found in inverted channels from a relict delta. More humid samples where these protective features may lack included surface and subsurface soil samples from concentric layered mounds believed to have formed under a water table. Nonethless, these mounds present a geomorphological analogy to the Equatorial Layered Deposits (ELD) on Mars, and given the infiltrating capillary fringe that render the Makgadikgadi mounds humid, a similar process on Mars could establish the ELDs as habitable refugia. In the laboratory, once the lipid profile of all samples is characterised, the team will proceed with irradiation studies to challenge lipid degradation in protective versus non-protective matrices.

Read the full scientific report with kind permission by Pablo Finkel and Laura Sánchez García.


22-EPN3-024: VIS-NIR and Raman measurement of clays and evaporitic products as analogs of Oxia Planum in the framework of the Rosalind Franklin rover mission

22-EPN3-024: VIS-NIR and Raman measurement of clays and evaporitic products as analogs of Oxia Planum in the framework of the Rosalind Franklin rover mission

Visit by Marco Ferrari and Mauro Ciarniello (INAF-IAPS, Italy) to TA1.5 Makgadikgadi Salt Pans (Botswana).
Dates of visit: 11-17 September 2023

This project aimed at a sampling campaign of evaporite and sedimentary products (e.g., sulfates, clays) and deposits showing evidence of biosignatures in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana. Samples taken from this location will be used for VIS-NIR and Raman spectroscopy measurements in the context of the future ExoMars mission.

To achieve this, the team visited 10 different sites in the Makgadikgadi Pan area, distributed across both the Ntwentwe Pan and Sue Pan during the visit. They collected 35 samples in different forms, both loose sediments with grain sizes varying from clays to sand, and cohesive sediments such as the salt crusts that characterise the top surface of the Pan. They also collected some solid rock blocks with sizes suitable for the laboratory setup of the Ma_MISS (Mars Multispectral Imager for Subsurface Studies) instrument (i.e. blocks with a maximum size of 10x10x10 cm), to perform drilling operations and spectroscopic measurements in the wall of the borehole.

The campaign aimed to confirm the ability of the Ma_MISS instrument to detect spectral signatures of organic substances in geological samples containing biosignatures. With the spectroscopic data obtained in the laboratory on the collected samples, the team aims to build a spectral database that will be useful to the scientific community.

These activities on terrestrial analogues have proven useful for understanding life in extreme conditions and how these can be preserved in the form of biosignatures and detected by the scientific instruments that will be on board future missions to Mars. In addition, this work will help to acquire crucial preparation for the exploitation and interpretation of the scientific data that the Ma_MISS instrument will provide during the active phase of the mission.

Read the full scientific report with kind permission by Marco Ferrari and Mauro Ciarniello.


22-EPN3-070: Investigation of geomorphic features in Ntwetwe pans, Makgadikgadi Basin, Botswana

20-EPN3-70: Investigation of geomorphic features in Ntwetwe pans, Makgadikgadi Basin, Botswana, using Ground Penetrating Radar: implications for Matrial surface landforms

Visit by Mebatseyon Shawel (Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia) to TA1.5 Makgadikgadi Salt Pans (Botswana).
Dates of visit: 06-13 July 2023

The Makgadikgadi Basin in Botswana, covering an area of 16,000 square kilometres, is the largest salt pan in the world. Its formation is related to a tectonic episode in the Tertiary, possibly linked to the East African Rift System (EARS), which caused the subsidence and infilling with water and sediments. Changes in climate and tectonics eventually led to the drying up of the ancient lake, leaving behind the expansive salt pans we see today. The basin consists of two major pans, namely Sua and Ntwetwe, with a combined area of approximately 8,400 square kilometres. These pans are mostly flat but feature distinct geomorphic elements such as mounds and shoreline features that can be easily identified through satellite imagery. In the western part of the Ntwetwe pan, there are numerous mounds with an east-facing convex side and an average height of 5 metres. These mounds are primarily composed of fine-grained sands, calcareous sand, and occasionally contain bivalve shells. While several theories have been proposed regarding their origin, the internal sedimentary structure of these geomorphic features remains unknown.

On Mars, conical mounds are significant morphological features that have been observed and mapped in various regions. The Noachian-Hesperian climate change on Mars resulted in the deposition of crudely layered sediments in the equatorial region, where fluctuations in groundwater played a crucial role. These layered sediments, known as Equatorial Layered Deposits (ELDs), contain numerous mounds that were exposed due to impact craters. The objective of this study is to investigate the mounds in the Ntwetwe pan using geophysical methods, particularly Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR). By employing GPR, we aim to image the internal structure of these mounds and other geomorphic features, with the ultimate goal of understanding the formation and preservation of similar structures on the Martian surface.

Several sites within the Ntwetwe pan were selected for GPR survey, primarily along east-west and north-south profiles. These sites are located in the northwest, northeast, and central parts of the pan. Over a period of six days, approximately 23 kilometres of GPR data were collected. Most of the surveys utilized 50MHz antennas, while three lines were acquired using both 50MHz and 30MHz antennas to attain penetration depth as well as resolution. Preliminary results indicate clear imaging of the top 15 meters over the mounds and delta sites. However, reflections away from these structures appear to be weaker,
possibly due to the high moisture content of clays on the pan floor, requiring further processing works to achieve better results.

Read the full scientific report with kind permission by Mebatseyon Shawel.


22-EPN3-105: At the interface of ice and water on Mars

22-EPN3-105: At the interface of ice and water on Mars – Insights from Western Greenland.

Visit by Anna Grau Galofre (CNRS/Laboratoire de Planétologie et Géosciences, France) and Axel Nobletto (Western University, Canada) to TA1.4 AU Greenland Kangerlussuaq Field Site (Greenland).
Dates of visit: 25 July – 02 August 2023

Report Summary: The aim of this project was to investigate elements of the glacial and periglacial system surrounding Kangerlussaq, Western Greenland, to then compare them to similar landforms on the surface of Mars.

The first target in the field focused on investigating former subglacial drainage pathways that would have transported and accumulated water under the western Greenland ice sheet (GIS). Preliminary field observations, consisting of field and UAV imagery, mapping of former ice flow directions and sediment analyses, identified sets of bedrock incised depressions, linked by shallow channels that often cross drainage divides, point at a former subglacial drainage setting consisting of interlinked subglacial cavities. These observations would be consistent with present day radar observations of drainage
pathways under the western GIS margin near Kangerlussuaq. Beside their interest for understanding the geometry of current subglacial drainage under Greenland, interlinked subglacial cavities are also interesting analogues to the martian so-called fresh shallow valleys, which are suggested to have formed under former ice cover.

The second field objective investigated polygonal terrain, its morphology, distribution, and the connection with the depth to the ice layer. We studied polygonised terrains around Kangerlussuaq, collecting image data, structure-from-motion, and depth to the ice layer. We also mapped the distribution of polygonal terrain as observed in the field and aerial imagery.

The results and interpretations will be applied to the study of Martian polygons, to propose a model of the buried ice conditions for Mars’ permafrost, and the development of channel systems.

Read full scientific report with kind permission by Anna Grau Galofre.


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22-EPN3-049: Retrieving multiple ice cores to study the link between the solar cycle and the cosmogenic tritium in precipitation

22-EPN3-049: Retrieving multiple ice cores covering the last 100 years to study the link between the solar cycle and the cosmogenic tritium in precipitation.

Visit by László Palcsu and Marjan Temovski (Institute for Nuclear Research, Hungary) to TA1.4 AU Greenland Kangerlussuaq Field Site (Greenland).
Dates of visit: 19-23 June 2023

Report Summary:

The objective of the mission was to retrieve multiple ice cores at the EGRIP site (75°37′N, 35°59′W, 2702 m a.s.l.) to study the natural as well as anthropogenic variation of tritium in the ice layers. We have studied the recent publications, which suggest lower snow accumulation rate than what we have previously thought. Therefore, we intended to drill more shallow cores. During five days at EGRIP (19-23 June 2023), we drilled five 24 m-long ice cores representing the last 100-110 years. The ice cores were cut into subsamples of 15 cm, and packed into plastic containers. One full core was collected. The bottom part (depth between 16.2 and 24.0 m) of the additional 4 cores was also collected to get more material for sensitive analysis of tritium by the 3He-ingrowth method.  Altogether 368 samples have been collected. Besides the cosmogenic tritium, stable isotopes of water, and Sr-Nd-Hf isotope signatures will be also analysed. To compare this latter to older ice (>10,000 years), we took ice samples at the ice margin in a location between the glaciers Isunnguata Sermia and Russell about 36 km from Kangerlussuaq, near Point 660. The ice there is supposed to be around 40,000 years old. We drilled a shallow core (~ 4 m), cut into 10 pieces, and stored in pre-cleaned plastic vessels. All of the ice samples have been already shipped to our laboratory in Hungary. The first analyses for stable isotopes, 137Cs around the Chernobyl event, and tritium around the bomb-peak have been already started.

Drilling down to 24 m in the clean area of the EGRIP site, Kangerlussuaq,
Drilling down to 24 m in the clean area of the EGRIP site, Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. Credit: László Palcsu.

Read full scientific report with kind permission by László Palcsu.


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22-EPN3-126: In-Situ observations in support for VERITAS Venus analogue airborne radar campaign at Holuhraun and Djyngasandur, Iceland

22-EPN3-126: In-Situ observations in support for VERITAS Venus analogue airborne radar campaign at Holuhraun and Djyngasandur, Iceland

Solmaz Adeli and Stephen Patrick Garland (German Aerospace Center (DLR), Germany) to TA1 – Iceland Field Sites, MATIS
Dates of visit: 1-14 August 2023

The composition of lava fields on Venus and their alteration state is poorly understood. The Venus Emissivity Mapper (VEM)/VERITAS will observe the surface of Venus in the NIR range, which will allow studying the spectral characteristics of the Venusian surface, as well as the type of lava and likely alteration processes. To prepare for this mission, VERITAS organised a field campaign in Iceland in early August, 2023, which included in-situ NIR data acquisition by the DLR-Berlin team, enabled through this Europlanet funding. The main goals have been 1) to understand the in-situ NIR reflectance spectral response of Venus analogue material, 2) to acquire in-situ emittance of an active volcano in the NIR spectral range, 3) to collect samples to be analysed in the Planetary Spectroscopy Laboratory (PSL-DLR-Berlin) using reflectance and emittance spectroscopy methods, to create an emissivity spectral library, and 4) to compare the laboratory data with field measurements.

In order to collect a wide range of textures (from pahoehoe to a’a) and compositional variations of basaltic lava fields, in addition to different fumarolic deposits, the team visited and imaged the Holuhraun lava field, Askja lava field, and Fagradalsfjall area. These sites offer an age range from the altered 1960 Askja lava field to the 2023 eruption in Fagradalsfjall. The Askja and Holuhraun sites also offered variation in grain sizes and tefra and sand coverage, which affects the spectral behavior of the surface material in NIR. the team also collected about 60 kg of samples to be analysed in the Venus chamber of the PSL-DLR-Berlin.

Photos from the campaign can be found in the DLR Flickr Album: VERITAS – Expedition for NASA & ESA Missions to Venus:

VERITAS