We just launched the Europlanet Magazine!

We just launched the Europlanet Magazine!

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

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

This first issue has a strong focus on Mars, including European contributions to current missions, experimental research in labs and in the field, and outreach initiatives to engage the next generation. We look back at the origins of Europlanet and its links to the Cassini-Huygens mission at the beginning of this century. We also have updates on the Winchcombe meteorite and on several new partnerships to support planetary science.

Please check out Issue 1 and share with your networks to help us spread the word.

In this issue:

In Focus

round up of news from Europlanet 2024 RI, the Europlanet Society, the Regional Hubs and Committees, and the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2021.

Memories of Europlanet’s birth

Michel Blanc (IRAP), coordinator of the first Europlanet projects, looks back on the origins and evolution of Europlanet

Planetary Perspectives

Q&A with Henrik Hargitai, Editor of the Pocket Atlas of Mars 36

Europlanet Society Joins International Planetary Data Alliance

Stéphane Erard (Observatoire de Paris) reports on Europlanet’s participation in international consortia that manage access to planetary data.

Searching for Answers to Life’s Big Questions

Fernando J Gomez and Mateo Martini (CICTERRA-CONICET) introduce the new Europlanet 2024 RI planetary analogue field site in Argentina

RoadMap to Understanding Atmospheric Dust on Mars

Ann Carine Vandaele (BIRA-IASB) addresses open questions about dust and clouds in the martian atmosphere through the H2020 RoadMap project

All Eyes on Mars

A round up by the editor on European involvement in Mars missions and lab-based research on Mars exploration, including the MEDA, SuperCam and MOXIE instruments on Perseverance and spiders on Mars.

My Journey to Mars by Maria Hieta (FMI), a personal viewpoint on working on Perseverance’s MEDA instrument and ExoMars,

The Fall of the Winchcombe Meteorite

Sara Russell (NHM) describes the first UK meteorite fall recovery in thirty years and the most exciting week of her life.

Building a Community for Planetary Geological Mapping

Angelo Pio Rossi (Jacobs University) describes Europlanet’s new geological mapping activity, GMAP

Mobilising Planetary Science in Africa

Fulvio Franchi (Botswana International University of Science and Technology) introduces a new network to support planetary science in Africa.

Industry Engagement

Marcell Tessenyi (Blue Skies Space Ltd) and Jeronimo Bernard-Salas (ACRI-ST) discuss the mutual benefits for industry and academia in developing collaborations.


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

EPEC Corner

News from the Europlanet Early Career (EPEC) Network

Melissa Mirino  (EPEC Communications Working Group) on how EPEC can support early career professionals, and the 2021 edition of the #PlanetaryScience4All video contest

3rd EPEC Annual Week
Erica Luzzi on the EPEC Annual Week, held as a virtual meeting this week

The Last Word

Nigel Mason on Europlanet: Moving Forward Together

Report from the EPSC-DPS Allyship meeting at EPSC 2020

At Virtual EPSC 2020, the Europlanet Society Diversity Committee announced that it is planning to initiate a new working group for all planetary scientists that would act as an ally to others in less privileged situations. Based on the DPS Allyship meetings organized in the US in the past, the Diversity Committee organized an EPSC-DPS Allyship Splinter Meeting to discuss about strategies developed in the past within DPS, the different “target groups” that need allies, and the possible differences there between US and Europe. They also talked about what specific actions potential allies could take, and what guidance or suggestions could be forwarded to organizations, networks and communities and possible actions to conduct in such organizational frameworks. This splinter meeting was specifically targeting individuals who identify with privileged groups (e.g., men, straight, white, able-bodied, or cis-gendered) to be more aware and proactive in support of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

The vice chair of the Diversity Committee, Lena Noack, opened the meeting and summarized the previous activities of the Committee, which was so far mostly focussing on gender equality, inclusion of early-career scientists, and inclusion of east-/central-European countries. Other diversity topics such as the unfair treatment of people of color were so far not studied in sufficient detail. On the other hand, members of the Diversity Committee also realized that none of them has had any much experience with the topic so far, and are thus a bit behind the curve on issues surrounding initiatives like BlackLivesMatter, Strike4BlackLives, or ShutdownSTEM. To address potential next steps to take within the Europlanet Society, the Committee decided to found a European version of the DPS Allyship Group at EPSC, after a successful DPS Allyship splinter meeting organized in Geneva at EPSC-DPS2019 (see this blog post). The first tasks of the new European working group will be to initiate itself and to recruit members that can share with us their experiences, expectations and hopes.

After the introduction explaining the purpose of the splinter meeting, a discussion started between several participants from EPSC, members of the Diversity Committee, and colleagues from DPS organizing the DPS Allyship meetings and being proactive in the PCCS of DPS – all in all 24 participants joined for the splinter meeting. The discussion quickly turned to the question if an “Allyship group” would indeed be the right name for such a work group. At what level should anyone “claim” to be an ally? It is one thing to have an allyship with underrepresented groups as a goal, but the wording of being an ally (or pursuing an allyship) somewhat implies putting oneself into the spotlight, and not the actual activities and goals in mind. In addition, the new work group that is initiated by the Diversity Committee should include not only potential “allies”, but especially members of underrepresented groups. However, some of the splinter meeting participants expressed concerns that it is always more difficult to stand up for oneself instead of for others. Those from underrepresented groups should stand up and share their voice, but it should not be their task to correct unfair treatment by privileged groups. Here a parallel can be drawn to the goal of strengthening the voice of underrepresented European countries in European activities and networks – western Europeans for example tend to lead scientific debates and aim for coordination of larger projects; often not sufficiently ensuring that others are equally involved in discussions and enabled to feed into processes and decisions.

Within the Europlanet Society, for this reason a Regional Hub structure was initiated, where countries involved in Europlanet are divided into 10 Hubs (Benelux, Central Europe, France, Germany, Ireland & UK, Italy, Northern Europe, Southeast Europe, Spain & Portugal, and Switzerland). Each hub has a representative in the different committees of the Society (including a Diversity Officer, an Outreach Officer, an Industry Officer and an Early Career Officer). This means that the Diversity Committee is well represented with respect to European nationalities, but not yet that well with respect to other aspects such as gender, people of color, ethnic backgrounds, or sexual orientation.

The Diversity Committee feeds directly into the Europlanet Society Executive Board. The Europlanet Society has as a main rule to reach everybody while focussing on diversity, instead of being a top-down organisation, but especially with respect to reaching diverse members and participants at EPSC, we still feel that we are lacking the right tools for that.

Our American colleagues mentioned at that point of our discussion, that in DPS, every 10 years a decadal survey is implemented on where the planetary society should go, including papers for example also on diversity and representation. These and similar articles give several recommendations of how we can strengthen diversity and equality in planetary sciences. In that regard it also became increasingly common in the US to provide a diversity and inclusivity statement when applying for faculty positions – an approach that is still rather rare in most European countries or networks. It was suggested that a survey within the Europlanet Society could help us gain more information on the different issues concerning equality, diversity and inclusivity in Europe in comparison to the US. 

A big challenge in that regard for the diversity committee, is related to statistics. We do not have data and information related to sexual orientation, age, gender etc from some European countries. However, from this year onwards the EPSC has started taking the demographic information in the registration form on a voluntary basis. One of the participants suggested to start involving hub leads and members of the regional committee to take statistics from their regions. This will help the committee to get more information from all over Europe.   

Similarly, instead of trying to build a basis for a stronger allyship, it might be beneficial to first bring the attention of the group to specific experiences of individuals. 

In that direction, a group of early- to mid-career professionals from Europe started a new project a few years ago called “Did this really happen?”, collecting stories about discriminating behaviour in the scientific world (focussing mostly but not exclusively on gender-related incidents) and transforming them into easy-to-grasp cartoons. We could try to support this group by actively searching for similar examples of bad behaviour observed by privileged individuals, exclusion in work places or meetings, and other incidents that would need our attention. Such data would also help the Diversity Committee or the new working group to work on new policies and tasks.

From past experience and discussions (in European networks, but also within the DPS allyship group), different recommendations for both individuals and institutions were already suggested:

  • Organize bystander trainings and implicit bias tests and/or trainings at institutes and conferences
  • Write recommendation letters without gender-blended usage (some suggestions can be found here)
  • Nominate candidates from different backgrounds for awards (could be accomplished as a group work, for example from such an allyship working group)
  • Pass on opportunities (seminars, invited talks, etc.) to under-represented colleagues
  • Keep the discussion alive on how to increase diversity, equity and inclusion, and share material and ideas with as many people as possibly
  • Create specific ressources pages (from seminar pages to larger networks such as AGU)
  • Write descriptions and requirements for prizes and positions in a way that they do not exclude any groups
  • Formalize the review process for prize nominations and selections

The splinter meeting ended with an euphoric group planning to continue to meet at a regular basis throughout the year in a virtual meeting, discuss the current state of the situation, while inviting and engaging individuals from underrepresented groups to build up a strong network, from which something like an allyship group can indeed be built from. 

In contrast to a statement that one of our splinter meeting participants was recently told — “Allyship costs if you’re doing it right” — a true allyship should be a natural behaviour towards anyone coming from a less privileged group and should not be seen as an additional workload (or worse) to increase your competition. In the end, it is up to those of us that identify with the standard privileged groups (e.g., men, straight, white, able-bodied, or cis-gendered) that are the ones that have to become more active and involved!

Are you interested in becoming involved in the discussion group that will meet virtually at a regular basis to discuss different diversity, equality and inclusivity issues, recommendations, allyship approaches, or want to share your experiences? Then please get in contact with diversity@europlanet-society.org.

2021 Call for Funding Scheme to Support Society Committees and Membership

2021 Call for Funding Scheme to Support Society Committees and Membership

The 2021 Call for the Europlanet Society’s funding scheme to support its Committees and Membership is now open.

Applications can be submitted by any of the Society’s Regional Hubs, Committees (EPEC, Diversity) or Working Groups in support of their activities or those of the Society Membership.

The scheme is designed to support projects with funds of between €1000-5000. The proposals should further the aims of the Europlanet Society and actively involve Society members.

The scope of the funding scheme is deliberately broad to enable the community to propose diverse and innovative projects.

Members of the Society may approach their Regional Hub (or any of the other Committees or Working Groups) with suggestions for projects, which may be submitted on their behalf.

The closing date for applications is 16 April 2021.

To find out more, Members can log-in to access the applications page for the funding call.

Motivational Journeys – Amara Graps

Motivational Journeys – Amara Graps

For the seventh interview in our series of Motivational Journeys, we talk to Dr. Amara Graps of the Planetary Science Institute and Baltics in Space.

Dr. Graps has been involved in more than 10 international mission teams, including Voyager, Cassini and Rosetta, and now lives in Latvia and is working to establish the space community in the Baltic region.

In this interview, she tells us about how she has created opportunities for herself, the cultural differences between the US and Europe, the challenges of self-funding and solo-parenting, and the importance of taking care of your body.

Watch all the interviews in our series of Motivational Journeys.