Welcome to New Chairs of Regional Hubs

Welcome to New Chairs of Regional Hubs

Some of the Europlanet Society Regional Hubs have new Chairs! We look forward to working with them and thank all the outgoing Hub Chairs for their work over the past few years.

Incoming Chair of Southeast Europe Regional Hub

Nick Sergis. Credit: Hellenic Space Center

Dr Nick Sergis is the incoming Chair of the Southeast Regional Hub, taking over from Prof Ioannis Daglis, who has served in the role since 2019. Nick is Chief Executive Officer of the Hellenic Space Center, which coordinates public entities and co-manages national programs in all space sectors in Greece. His research interests include space and planetary physics, magnetospheric data analysis with emphasis on the outer planets and their moons, magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling, and solar wind dynamics. He was a member of the Cassini Magnetosphere Imaging Instrument (MIMI) Scientific Team. Between 2006 and 2020 he worked at the Office of Space Research and Technology at the Academy of Athens in collaboration with JHU/APL. Since 2017, he has been an Adjunct Researcher at the National Observatory of Athens.


Incoming Chair of Spain-Portugal Regional Hub

DR. ALEJANDRO CARDESÍN MOINELO is chair of the Spain Portugal Regional Hub.
Alejandro Cardesín Moinelo is the new chair of the Spain Portugal Regional Hub. Credit: ESA.

Alejandro Cardesín Moinelo is a planetary scientist and science operations engineer working for the European Space Agency, specialising in Solar System missions. He is currently focused on Mars exploration as the manager of the Mars Express mission science ground segment, in coordination with ExoMars and other international projects. Since 2017, he has been the coordinator of the Spanish Planetary Science and Solar System Exploration Community, supporting and promoting the collaboration between research and technology institutions and industries in Spain. Alejandro is now taking on the role of Chair of the Spain & Portugal Regional Hub from the inaugural Chair, Miguel López-Valverde.


Incoming Chair of Italy Regional Hub

Stavro Ivanovski, Chair of the Italian Regional Hub and Co-Chair of EPSC SOC
Stavro Ivanovski. Credit: Europlanet/V Southgate

Stavro Ivanovski is a researcher at INAF-Trieste and an adjoint professor at the University of Trieste. His research focuses on small bodies and planetary magnetospheres in the Solar System. Stavro is involved in a number of planetary missions, including LICIACube, Rosetta and BepiColombo, Comet Interceptor, Hera, and Ariel. As a graduated actor with theatre experience, he has a strong commitment to public engagement and outreach. Since 2020, Stavro has acted as the Co-Chair of the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) Scientific Organising Committee (SOC). He now takes on the role of Chair of the Italian Regional Hub from Maria Cristina De Sanctis.

The new Hub Chairs were announced during EPSC. You can find out more about the work of the Regional Hubs here.

3rd Call for Applications for Free Access to Laboratories and Field Sites – Reminder

3rd Call for Applications for Free Access to Laboratories and Field Sites – Reminder

The 3rd call for applications for the Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) Transnational Access (TA) programme is now open!

If you are interested in submitting an application, you can check the call page to find more information about the call and how to submit your application. Please note that you will need to discuss the implementation plan for with the host institute of the TA facility or field site before submitting your application. The call will close on 20 October 2022.

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 6 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 a maximum of 10 days. In addition, the Korea Basic Science Institute (KBSI) is offering access to 13 facilities in South Korea.

Please note that although 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.

Resources to help you with your application

More about the TA programme

Europlanet 2024 RI main page

Ann Carine Vandaele is the Europlanet Society’s new President Elect

Ann Carine Vandaele is the Europlanet Society’s new President Elect

Ann Carine Vandaele, Head of Planetary Atmospheres Research Unit at the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy, Brussels, was announced as the President-Elect of the Europlanet Society during the General Assembly on 22 September. Ann Carine will take over as the second President of the Europlanet Society in September 2023 when Nigel Mason‘s term of office comes to an end.

In her election Manifesto, Ann Carine explained her vision for the Europlanet Society:

After a PhD at the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium, I joined the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy where, today, I am head of the Planetary Atmospheres Division. My main scientific expertise lies in the development of remote sensing instruments, spectroscopy used by such instruments, and radiative transfer modelling through atmospheres. I am involved in several space missions (Mars and Venus Express, ExoMars TGO, JUICE, ARIEL, EnVision) and associations (the International Commission of Planetary Atmospheres and Evolution, a commission of IAMAS/IUGG; the IUGG Belgian National Committee of Geodesy and Geophysics; the Belgian National Committee on Space Research, YouSpace! ). I am the president of the Société Royale Belge d’Astronomie, de Météorologie et de Physique du Globe, whose members are academics, researchers but also amateur astronomers. I am currently the chair of the Benelux regional Hub of the Europlanet Society. 

My main driver is to promote collaboration and exchange between researchers in Planetary Sciences. For me, it is important to encourage relations between education, research and industry to increase the visibility and the impact of planetary science. The Europlanet Society has the potential to be that link. I believe that the Society needs to be present at all the stages of a researcher’s life, from the very beginning, i.e. at schools and university. It is fundamental to engage a wide variety of audiences and sectors of the society not usually interested in or even excluded from science, offering to the wider general public the possibility to take part in planetary sciences. The Society should also be an active interlocutor by engaging with decision makers, like the European Space Agency or the European Commission.

Find out more about the role of the President and the Executive Board of the Europlanet Society.

First Probable Impact Crater Discovered in Spain

First Probable Impact Crater Discovered in Spain

Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022 Press Release

The first probable impact crater in Spain has been identified in the southern province of Almeria. The discovery was presented last week at the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022 by Juan Antonio Sánchez Garrido of the University of Almeria.

While around 200 impact structures have been identified around the world, the study is the first to identify signs of an impact crater on the Iberian Peninsula. The discovery is the result of 15 years of research by an international team of scientists from the University of Almeria, the Astrobiology Center of Madrid, the University of Lund and the University of Copenhagen.

Prof Sánchez Garrido said: “We believe that the impact event occurred around 8 million years ago. We have investigated numerous aspects of the geology, minerology, geochemistry and geomorphology of the region. The basins of Alhabia and Tabernas in the area are filled with sediments dating back between 5 and 23 million years, and they overlie older metamorphic rocks. Much of the impact structure is buried by more modern sediments, but erosion has exposed it and opened up the opportunity for studies.”

The crater itself is thought to be about 4 kilometres in diameter, and it is surrounded by a larger structure about 20 kilometres across where the impact caused the sedimentary strata to collapse.

Evidence for the impact crater includes several examples of ‘shocked’ quartz grains in breccia – a sedimentary rock type with large fragments cemented into a finer-grained matrix. The grains show signs of being deformed in the enormous pressures of the impact, which were between 10 and 30 gigapascals.

“If the crater discovery is confirmed, it would not only be exciting from a scientific perspective, but would also be a wonderful addition to the scientific and touristic attractions of the province of Almeria,” said Prof Sánchez Garrido.

EPSC2022, which took place last week in Granada, was attended by almost 1200 planetary scientists from around the world, making it one of the largest planetary science meetings to take place in Europe.

The Chair of the Local Organising Committee, Luisa Lara of the Instituto de Astrofisica de Andalucía-CSIC, said: “It was a lot of work to prepare for the meeting and we had to wait two years because of the pandemic. But the emotion of welcoming everyone to EPSC2022 in Granada has been worth everything – all the work is forgotten and the success of the meeting is a wonderful reward.”

Images

Location of the crater centre and 20 kilometre radius of the area affected by the impact in the Alhabia-Tabernas basin. Credit: Sánchez-Garrido et al 2022. Basemap: Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN). License: CC-BY 4.0.
Much of the impact structure is buried by the most recent sediments. The crater itself is 4 kilometres in diameter and is buried at a depth of 1000 m. The edge of the structure reaches a diameter of 20 kilometres. Credit: Sánchez-Garrido et al 2022.
Evidence for the impact crater includes several examples of ‘shocked’ quartz grains in breccia – a sedimentary rock type with large fragments cemented into a finer-grained matrix. The grains show signs of being deformed in the enormous pressures of the impact, which were between 10 and 30 Giga Pascals. Credit: Sánchez-Garrido et al 2022.
Thin sections showing deformations in three quartz grains, produced by shock effects, in an impact breccia at Tabernas. Credit: Sánchez-Garrido et al 2022.

MEDIA CONTACTS

EPSC2022 Press Office
+44 7756 034243
epsc-press@europlanet-society.org

FURTHER INFORMATION 

About the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 

The Europlanet Science Congress (https://www.epsc2022.eu/) formerly the European Planetary Science Congress, is the annual meeting of the Europlanet Society. With a track record of 16 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. In 2022, EPSC is held jointly with the European Astrobiology Network Association (EANA) annual meeting.

Follow on Twitter via @europlanetmedia and using the hashtag #EPSC2022.

Details of media briefings and recordings can be found at: https://www.europlanet-society.org/press-briefings-at-epsc2022/

All Europlanet media releases can be found at: https://www.europlanet-society.org/press/

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 Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC).

About EANA
The European Astrobiology Network Association (http://www.eana-net.eu), joins together people interested in the origins of life and the search for extraterrestrial life in the Solar System and beyond. This interdisciplinary domain involves scientists from multiple disciplines such as chemistry, physics, biology, geology, astronomy, and human sciences.  

Webb Sees Red with First Pictures of Mars

Webb Sees Red with First Pictures of Mars

By Sanje Fenkart

Up to now the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has impressed the astronomical world by taking images of the far-away Universe with unprecedented resolution and detail. Recently, NASA has shifted its focus to our next-door neighbour Mars.

Earth’s little brother is a rather photogenic fellow. It is observed by amateurs, public observatories, professional ground-based and space telescopes. Since 1964, there has been a constant trickle of probes, satellites, landers and rovers which explore the rust-covered world. While the robots send us close-ups from a familiar yet strange world, it’s worthwhile taking a look at the Red Planet with a telescope – even one in your back yard.

For Webb the Mars observation proved to be a little blinding. The telescope is designed to look primarily at faint objects such as exoplanets as well as the first (and hence oldest) stars and galaxies in space. In order for them to be captured, the JWST is equipped with very sensitive instruments and collects as much light as possible.

Mars, however, is close by and very bright – nearly too bright for Webb. Fortunately, a team from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center edited the collected data into valuable pictures. The NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) managed to take a snapshot of Mars’ surface at two different wavelengths/filters. The first is a zoomed-in picture that shows different surface features like craters, volcanic rocks and dust properties.

The second is a heat map of our neighbour. It marks colder and hotter regions, depending how much heat is given off. As expected, the polar regions are cold, just as the shadowed night side with the distinct terminator (border between day and night). Towards the equator the Sun shines full on (at 2 pm Martian time), heating the planet to an overly bright spot. Curiously, the hottest part exhibits a darker patch. It is an impact structure called “Hellas Basin” with a depth of over 7,000 m (>23,000 ft). There, the pressure changes considerably from top to bottom and consequently affects the atmosphere. And that’s what Webb sees.

First pictures of Mars, taken by the NIRCam instrument on the James Webb Space Telescope. Left panel: close-up of the Martian surface with different features and structures. Right panel: heat map, showing Mars’ thermal emission. The bright yellow patch is the day side, with a darker spot inside. This is an atmospheric pressure change in Hellas Basin. Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, MARS JWST/GTO Team.

Switching instruments, the NIRSpec (Near-Infrared Spectrograph) documented Mars’ atmospheric composition. It found quite the abundance of carbon dioxide (CO2), alongside water (H2O) and carbon monoxide (CO). Yet what scientists are really looking for is methane (CH4). On Earth, methane is one of the most prominent tracers for living organisms, a so-called biomarker. Organisms like us, microbes and plants produce methane. The planet itself can outgas methane if it has geological activity. Otherwise, methane can be brought to a planet by comets too. So far, methane has been found only in the slightest of traces on Mars, with its origin still under discussion. The current findings were obtained during guaranteed time observations (GTO) and they look promising.

Webb will look at Mars many times in the future, whenever an observation window opens. And while there no new results from the JWST spectra on the methane abundance, the spectrographs capability should be able to find even slightest whiffs of it. 

Spectrum of Mars’ atmosphere and its components, respectively taken by NIRSpec. It features a high abundance of carbon dioxide, some water and carbon monoxide. Future observations will try to look for methane which can be a powerful tracer for living organisms. Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, MARS JWST/GTO Team.

Sanje Fenkart took part in the media internship programme at EPSC2022. The programme is supported through the Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) Project, which has received funding European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 871149.

Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement 2022 awarded to the ‘Planets In Your Hand’ Tactile Exhibition

Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement 2022 awarded to the ‘Planets In Your Hand’ Tactile Exhibition

Europlanet Press Release

The 2022 Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement has been awarded to Dr Kosmas Gazeas and the team behind the ‘Planets In Your Hand’ tactile exhibition.

‘Planets In Your Hand’ is an interactive, mobile set of models of planetary surfaces, constructed in square frames, that gives a multisensory impression of the wide variety of surface characteristics and environmental properties of the planets in our Solar System. 

The exhibition, although suitable for people of all ages, has been specifically designed for visually impaired audiences, and has travelled to schools, universities and private institutes and organisations, reaching thousands of visitors to date.

Dr Federica Duras, Chair of the Europlanet Outreach Jury, said: “Imagination and creativity has led to a stunning, original exhibition led by a passionate and committed team. Giving opportunities to ‘touch space’ with your own hands is one of the most effective ways of making science and astronomy accessible and inclusive. Congratulations to the whole team.”

The award was presented during the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022 in Granada on behalf of the team to Dimitrios Athanasopoulos, who gave a 20-minute prize lecture. The team will also receive a cash award of 1500 Euros. 

Eugenia Covernton, CEO of Lecturers Without Borders, who nominated the team for the Europlanet Prize, said: “Planets In Your Hand is an outstanding hands-on exhibition that is inclusive for people with visual impairments and is overall a great tool for the public to grasp concepts related to the different compositions of the planets”

Sophia Drakaki and Dimitris Blougouras, Founders of CityLab, a STEM center specialized in activities for children and young people, said: “The team wanted a real hands-on experience that lasts. And yes, they did it! The on-the-spot visitors can see, touch and feel the surface texture and temperature of the planets and ‘travel’ on them, with the assistance of experts in astrophysics and education that can answer the megabytes of questions that the kids generate!”

Evangelia Mavrikaki, professor of the Department of Primary Education at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece), said: “The exhibition is portable, providing huge flexibility accessing schools and institutes in remote areas of Greece and all over the world. Science communication activities of such a kind are rare in remote places and away from large towns.”

Dr Gazeas, the team lead, who is a lecturer of observational astrophysics in the Department of Physics of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece), said: “We are deeply honoured to receive the Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement for our efforts in science communication and public outreach activities in the frame of the project Planets In Your Hand. The selection of our project by the judges acts like a confirmation to the team for the hard work that has been done since 2017 and especially during the past 3 years.”

Images

Federica Duras, Chair of the Europlanet Outreach Working Group, presenting the Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement to Dimitrios Athanasopoulos on behalf of the ‘Planets In Your Hand’ team. Credit: Europlanet

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Dimitrios Athanasopoulos accepted the Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement on behalf of the ‘Planets In Your Hand’ team. Credit: Europlanet

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Dimitrios Athanasopoulos giving the Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement Lecture on behalf of the ‘Planets In Your Hand’ team. Credit: Europlanet

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Dimitrios Athanasopoulos giving the Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement Lecture on behalf of the ‘Planets In Your Hand’ team. Credit: Europlanet

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The ‘Planets In Your Hand’ exhibition. Credits: Kosmas Gazeas

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The ‘Planets In Your Hand’ exhibition. Credits: Kosmas Gazeas

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The ‘Planets In Your Hand’ exhibition. Credits: Kosmas Gazeas

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The ‘Planets In Your Hand’ exhibition. Credits: Kosmas Gazeas

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The ‘Planets In Your Hand’ exhibition. Credits: Kosmas Gazeas

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A model from the ‘Planets In Your Hand’ exhibition representing Mars. Credits: Kosmas Gazeas

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A model from the ‘Planets In Your Hand’ exhibition representing Earth. Credits: Kosmas Gazeas

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A model from the ‘Planets In Your Hand’ exhibition representing Neptune. Credits: Kosmas Gazeas

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A model from the ‘Planets In Your Hand’ exhibition representing Mercury. Credits: Kosmas Gazeas

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Some of the squared models from the ‘Planets In Your Hand’ exhibition and the planets that they represent. Credits: Kosmas Gazeas

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Some of the squared models from the ‘Planets In Your Hand’ exhibition. Credits: Kosmas Gazeas

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Science Contacts

Kosmas Gazeas
“Planets In Your Hand” team
Department of Physics
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
Greece
+30 210 7276892 (office)
kgaze@phys.uoa.gr  /  kgaze@physics.auth.gr

MEDIA CONTACTS

EPSC2022 Press Office
+44 7756 034243>epsc-press@europlanet-society.org

FURTHER INFORMATION 

About the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 

The Europlanet Science Congress (https://www.epsc2022.eu/) formerly the European Planetary Science Congress, is the annual meeting of the Europlanet Society. With a track record of 16 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 #EPSC2022.

Details of media briefings and recordings can be found at: https://www.europlanet-society.org/press-briefings-at-epsc2022/

All Europlanet media releases can be found at: https://www.europlanet-society.org/press/

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 Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC).

About EANA
The European Astrobiology Network Association (http://www.eana-net.eu), joins together people interested in the origins of life and the search for extraterrestrial life in the Solar System and beyond. This interdisciplinary domain involves scientists from multiple disciplines such as chemistry, physics, biology, geology, astronomy, and human sciences.  

The Europlanet Media Centre issues media releases on the activities of Europlanet Society, the Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure, the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) and results from planetary science partner organisations. If you do not wish to receive press releases from the Europlanet Media Centre, please unsubscribe by replying to this message or sending an email to aheward@europlanet-society.org. Anita Heward, Europlanet Communications Officer, +44 7756 034243.

Join the Challenge to Explore the Moon!

Join the Challenge to Explore the Moon!

Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022 Press Release

Lunar enthusiasts of all ages are challenged to help identify features on the Moon that might pose a hazard to rovers or astronauts exploring the surface. 

The 2022 EXPLORE Lunar Data Challenge is focused on the Archytas Dome region, close to the Apollo 17 landing site where the last humans set foot on the Moon 50 years ago this December. 

The Machine Learning Lunar Data Challenge is open to students, researchers and professionals in areas related to planetary sciences, but also to anyone with expertise in data processing. There is also a Public Lunar Data Challenge to plot the safe traverse of a lunar rover across the surface of the Moon, open to anyone who wants to ‘have a go’, as well as a Classroom Lunar Data Challenge for schools, with hands-on activities about lunar exploration and machine learning.

Announcing the EXPLORE Machine Learning Lunar Data Challenge during the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022 in Granada, Spain, this week Giacomo Nodjoumi said: “The Challenge uses data of the Archytas Dome taken by the Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission. This area of the Moon is packed craters of different ages, boulders, mounds, and a long, sinuous depression, or rille. The wide variety of features in this zone makes it a very interesting area for exploration and the perfect scenario for this Data Challenge.”

The Machine Learning Lunar Data Challenge is in three steps: firstly, participants should train and test a model capable of recognising craters and boulders on the lunar surface. Secondly, they should use their model to label craters and boulders in a set of images of the Archytas zone. Finally, they should use the outputs of their models to create a map of an optimal traverse across the lunar surface to visit defined sites of scientific interest and avoid hazards, such as heavily cratered zones.

The public and schools are also invited to use lunar images to identify features and plot a journey for a rover. Prizes for the challenges include vouchers totalling 1500 Euros, as well as pieces of real Moon rock from lunar meteorites.

The EXPLORE project, which is funded through the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Programme, gathers experts from different fields of science and technical expertise to develop new tools that will promote the exploitation of space science data. 

“Through the EXPLORE Data Challenges, we aim to raise awareness of the scientific tools that we are developing, improve their accuracy by bringing in expertise from other communities, and involve schools and the public in space science research,” said Nick Cox, the Coordinator of the EXPLORE project.  

The deadline for entries closes on 21 November 2022 and winners will be announced in mid-December on the anniversaries of the Apollo 17 mission milestones. 

The 2022 EXPLORE Data Challenges can be found at: https://exploredatachallenges.space

Link to press release:    

Images

The Archytas Dome region of the lunar surface is the target area for the EXPLORE Lunar Data Challenges 2022. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University/EXPLORE/Jacobs University.

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The Public Lunar Challenge asks participants to identify hazards on the Moon, visit areas of scientific interest and plot a journey for a rover. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University/EXPLORE

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Science Contacts

Giacomo Nodjoum
Jacobs University
Bremen, Germany

g.nodjoumi@jacobs-university.de

Nick Cox
Coordinator, EXPLORE Project
ACRI-ST
nick.cox@acri-st.fr

Media Contacts

EPSC2022 Press Office
+44 7756 034243

epsc-press@europlanet-society.org

Further Information

About EXPLORE

The EXPLORE project gathers experts from different science domains and technological expertises to develop new tools that will enable and promote the exploitation of space science data. Through EXPLORE, we are creating a series of scientific data applications (Apps) that support users who interact with the large space science data archives maintained by space agencies, observatories and other facilities (e.g. ESA Datalabs or ESCAPE SAP). Our applications will equip researchers with state-of-the-art Artificial Intelligence (AI) and visual analytics to enhance science return and discovery from ‘big data’, initially focusing on data from the Gaia mission (investigating the Milky Way galaxy and stars) and from various missions to explore the Moon. The EXPLORE Data Challenges aim to raise awareness of the Apps produced by the EXPLORE project, and to improve the accuracy of the Apps by harnessing expertise from other data analysis fields. 

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101004214.  https://explore-platform.eu

About the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 

The Europlanet Science Congress (https://www.epsc2022.eu/) formerly the European Planetary Science Congress, is the annual meeting of the Europlanet Society. With a track record of 16 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. In 2022, EPSC is held jointly with the European Astrobiology Network Association (EANA) annual meeting.

Follow on Twitter via @europlanetmedia and using the hashtag #EPSC2022.

Details of media briefings and recordings can be found at: https://www.europlanet-society.org/press-briefings-at-epsc2022/

All Europlanet media releases can be found at: https://www.europlanet-society.org/press/

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 Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC).

About EANA
The European Astrobiology Network Association (http://www.eana-net.eu), joins together people interested in the origins of life and the search for extraterrestrial life in the Solar System and beyond. This interdisciplinary domain involves scientists from multiple disciplines such as chemistry, physics, biology, geology, astronomy, and human sciences.  

Planetary-scale ‘heat wave’ discovered in Jupiter’s atmosphere

Planetary-scale ‘heat wave’ discovered in Jupiter’s atmosphere

Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022 Press Release

An unexpected ‘heat wave’ of 700 degrees Celsius, extending 130,000 kilometres (10 Earth diameters) in Jupiter’s atmosphere, has been discovered. James O’Donoghue, of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), has presented the results this week at the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022 in Granada.  

Jupiter’s atmosphere, famous for its characteristic multicoloured vortices, is also unexpectedly hot: in fact, it is hundreds of degrees hotter than models predict. Due to its orbital distance millions of kilometres from the Sun, the giant planet receives under 4% of the amount of sunlight compared to Earth, and its upper atmosphere should theoretically be a frigid -70 degrees Celsius. Instead, its cloud tops are measured everywhere at over 400 degrees Celsius.

“Last year we produced – and presented at EPSC2021 – the first maps of Jupiter’s upper atmosphere capable of identifying the dominant heat sources,” said Dr O’Donoghue. “Thanks to these maps, we demonstrated that Jupiter’s auroras were a possible mechanism that could explain these temperatures.”

Just like the Earth, Jupiter experiences auroras around its poles as an effect of the solar wind. However, while Earth’s auroras are transient and only occur when solar activity is intense, auroras at Jupiter are permanent and have a variable intensity. The powerful auroras can heat the region around the poles to over 700 degrees Celsius, and global winds can redistribute the heat globally around Jupiter.

Looking more deeply through their data, Dr O’Donoghue and his team discovered the spectacular ‘heat wave’ just below the northern aurora, and found that it was travelling towards the equator at a speed of thousands of kilometres per hour. 

The heat wave was probably triggered by a pulse of enhanced solar wind plasma impacting Jupiter’s magnetic field, which boosted auroral heating and forced hot gases to expand and spill out towards the equator.

“While the auroras continuously deliver heat to the rest of the planet, these heat wave ‘events’ represent an additional, significant energy source,” added Dr O’Donoghue. “These findings add to our knowledge of Jupiter’s upper-atmospheric weather and climate, and are a great help in trying to solve the ‘energy crisis’ problem that plagues research into the giant planets.”

Images and videos

A panning-view of Jupiter’s upper atmospheric temperatures, 1000 kilometers above the cloud tops. Jupiter is shown on top of a visible image for context. In this snapshot, the auroral region (near the northern pole, in yellow/white) appears to have shed a massive, planetary-scale wave of heating towards the equator. The feature is over 130,000 kilometers long, or 10-Earth diameters, and is hundreds of degrees warmer than the background. Visible Jupiter image is from Hubble / NASA / ESA / A. Simon (NASA GSFC) / J. Schmidt. Credit: James O’Donoghue

https://youtu.be/gWT0QwSoVls

Further information

O’Donoghue, J., Moore, L., Bhakyapaibul, T., Johnson, R., Melin, H., and Stallard, T.: A planetary-scale heat wave in Jupiter’s mid-latitude upper atmosphere, Europlanet Science Congress 2022, Granada, Spain, 18–23 Sep 2022, EPSC2022-373, 2022.

https://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EPSC2022/EPSC2022-373.html

Science contacts

James O’Donoghue
Institute of Space and Astronautical Science
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
jameso@ac.jaxa.jp
Web: https://jamesodonoghue.wixsite.com/home
Twitter: @physicsJ

MEDIA CONTACTS

EPSC2022 Press Office
+44 7756 034243
epsc-press@europlanet-society.org

FURTHER INFORMATION 

About the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 

The Europlanet Science Congress (https://www.epsc2022.eu/) formerly the European Planetary Science Congress, is the annual meeting of the Europlanet Society. With a track record of 16 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 #EPSC2022.

Details of media briefings and recordings can be found at: https://www.europlanet-society.org/press-briefings-at-epsc2022/

All Europlanet media releases can be found at: https://www.europlanet-society.org/press/

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 Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC).

About EANA
The European Astrobiology Network Association (http://www.eana-net.eu), joins together people interested in the origins of life and the search for extraterrestrial life in the Solar System and beyond. This interdisciplinary domain involves scientists from multiple disciplines such as chemistry, physics, biology, geology, astronomy, and human sciences.  

ExoClock Counts Down Ariel Exoplanet Targets 

ExoClock Counts Down Ariel Exoplanet Targets 

Details of the orbits of 450 candidate exoplanet targets of the European Space Agency’s Ariel space mission have been presented this week at the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022, and submitted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series. The study, coordinated by the ExoClock (www.exoclock.space) project, has been co-authored by 217 professional and amateur astronomers, as well as university and high school students.

“The ethos of ExoClock can be described in three key words: inclusive, interactive, and integrated. It is open to everyone and accepts contributions from amateur astronomers, students, schools and public citizens,” said Anastasia Kokori, ExoClock project coordinator. “This is the third paper produced by the ExoClock team. The majority of the authors are amateur observers – around 160 – and this significant number highlights the interest and the value of the amateur community in contributing to space research.”

Ariel will study a population of more than 1000 exoplanets to characterise their atmospheres. The ExoClock project, which launched in September 2019, aims to support the long-term monitoring of exoplanets through regular observations using small and medium scale telescopes. 

Participants submit measurements known as ‘light curves’, which show the drop in intensity as a planet ‘transits’ or passes in front of its host star and blocks some of the light. When Ariel launches in 2029, it will need to have precise knowledge of the expected transit time of each exoplanet that it observes, in order to maximise the mission’s efficiency and impact.

“The new study showed that over 40% of ephemerides for proposed Ariel targets needed to be updated. This highlights the important role that the ExoClock community can play in monitoring the Ariel targets frequently,” said Tsiaras. 

ExoClock participants schedule and carry out observations, analyse the data and submit their results for review and feedback from members of the science team. This interactive process helps maintain consistency in results, and enriches the experience of the participants who learn through dialogue.

The results show that small and medium sized telescopes can successfully observe ephemerides for the large majority of the Ariel candidate targets. They also show how observations by amateur astronomers using their own telescopes can contribute to real science and have a high impact for a mission. The project helps to integrate Ariel with other space missions, ground-based telescopes, literature data and wider society, making best use of all available resources.

Kokori said: “Science is for everyone, and we are very happy that through the project everyone can be part of a real space mission. Our observers come from more than 35 countries and have different backgrounds. It is wonderful to see so many people willing to learn and work together in a collaborative spirit. Our team keeps growing daily with participants from all over the world.” 

Images

Artist’s impression of the Ariel mission.

Small telescope. Credit: ExoClock
Small telescope typical of those used by amateurs participating in the ExoClock programme. Credit: Aristotle University of Thessaloniki 
Lightcurve example from ExoClock Project
Example of scientific data produced by amateur astronomers. Credit: ExoClock

Further information

The project is part of the Ariel ephemerides working group, aiming to refine the ephemerides of Ariel targets. 

The updated ephemerides were produced as a result of a combination of around 18000 data points: 2911 observations from the ExoClock network, 12633 light curves from space telescopes, 2442 mid-time points from the literature and 184 observations provided by the Exoplanet Transit Database (ETD). 

The pre-print of the publication is available at: https://arxiv.org/abs/2209.09673

The database is accessible at OSF: https://osf.io/p298n/

Science Contacts

Anastasia Kokori
UCL
London, UK
anastasia.kokori.19@ucl.ac.uk

Angelos Tsiaras 
Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory – INAF
Florence, Italy
angelos.tsiaras@inaf.it

MEDIA CONTACTS

EPSC2022 Press Office
+44 7756 034243
epsc-press@europlanet-society.org

FURTHER INFORMATION 

About the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 

The Europlanet Science Congress (https://www.epsc2022.eu/) formerly the European Planetary Science Congress, is the annual meeting of the Europlanet Society. With a track record of 16 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 #EPSC2022.

Details of media briefings and recordings can be found at: https://www.europlanet-society.org/press-briefings-at-epsc2022/

All Europlanet media releases can be found at: https://www.europlanet-society.org/press/

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.  In 2022, EPSC is held jointly with the European Astrobiology Network Association (EANA) annual meeting.

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 Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC).

About EANA
The European Astrobiology Network Association (http://www.eana-net.eu), joins together people interested in the origins of life and the search for extraterrestrial life in the Solar System and beyond. This interdisciplinary domain involves scientists from multiple disciplines such as chemistry, physics, biology, geology, astronomy, and human sciences.  

Winner of the #PlanetaryScience4All EPEC-EPSC Video Contest 2022

The winner of the #PlanetaryScience4All EPEC-EPSC Video Contest 2022 is ’29P & Comet Chasers’ by Cai Stoddard-Jones.

Hi, I’m Cai, a first year PhD student at Cardiff University. I’m from North Wales originally, but made the trek down south in 2017 to start my MPhys. I like to listen to and make music in my free time either singing or playing my guitar. I’m researching comet 29P’s unusual activity, it’s the most observed comet ever yet, we know very little about it. I aim to characterise the comet. In addition, I develop resources and experiments for a project called ‘Comet Chasers’ in Wales. We teach kids about cometary science and giving them LCO telescope time to take their own images. If their images are used by researchers, their schools are credited.

Find out more about #PlanetaryScience4All

More about EPEC

Big planets get a head start in pancake-thin nurseries

Big planets get a head start in pancake-thin nurseries

Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022 Press Release

Super-thin planet nurseries have a boosted chance of forming big planets, according to a study announced this week at the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022 in Granada, Spain. An international team, led by Dr Marion Villenave of NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), observed a remarkably thin disc of dust and gas around a young star, and found that its structure accelerated the process of grains clumping together to form planets. 

“Planets only have a limited opportunity to form before the disc of gas and dust, their nursery, is dissipated by radiation from their parent star. The initial micron-sized particles composing the disc must grow rapidly to larger millimetre-sized grains, the building blocks of planets. In this thin disc, we can see that the large particles have settled into a dense midplane, due to the combined effect of stellar gravity and interaction with the gas, creating conditions that are extremely favourable for planetary growth,” explained Dr Villenave.

Using the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, the team obtained very high resolution images of the proto-planetary disc Oph163131, located in a nearby star-forming region called Ophiuchus. Their observations showed that, while disc is twice the diameter of our Solar System, at its outer edge the bulk of the dust is concentrated vertically in a layer only half the distance from Earth to the Sun. This makes it one of the thinnest planetary nurseries observed to date.

“Looking at proto-planetary discs edge-on gives a clear view of the vertical and radial dimensions, so that we can disentangle the dust evolution processes at work,” said Villenave. “ALMA gave us our first look at the distribution of millimetre-sized grains in this disc. Their concentration into such a thin layer was a surprise, as previous Hubble Space Telescope (HST) observations of finer, micron-sized particles showed a region extending almost 20 times higher.”

Simulations by the team based on the observations show that the seeds of gas-giant planets, which must be at least 10 Earth-masses, can form in the outer part of the disc in less than 10 million years. This is within the typical lifetime of a planetary nursery before it dissipates.  

“Thin planet nurseries appear to be favourable for forming big planets, and may even facilitate planets forming at large distance from the central star,” said Villenave. “Finding further examples of these thin discs might help provide more insights into the dominant mechanisms for how wide-orbit planets form, a field of research where there are still many open questions.”

Images

Images of the Oph163131 disc as seen by ALMA (left) and HST (right). The limits of the millimetre-sized particles in the disc observed by ALMA are outlined in white. They are concentrated in a much narrower layer than the finer (micron-sized) dust observed by the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO) /Hubble/NASA/ESA /M. Villenave
Images of the Oph163131 disc as seen by ALMA (left) and HST (right). The limits of the millimetre-sized particles in the disc observed by ALMA are outlined in white. They are concentrated in a much narrower layer than the finer (micron-sized) dust observed by the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO) /Hubble/NASA/ESA /M. Villenave

https://www.europlanet-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/PR-Marion-Villenave-BigPlanetsHeadStartFormation5483.png

Contacts

Marion Villenave
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena
California, USA
marion.f.villenave@jpl.nasa.gov

MEDIA CONTACTS

EPSC2022 Press Office
+44 7756 034243
epsc-press@europlanet-society.org

FURTHER INFORMATION 

About the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 

The Europlanet Science Congress (https://www.epsc2022.eu/) formerly the European Planetary Science Congress, is the annual meeting of the Europlanet Society. With a track record of 16 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 #EPSC2022.

Details of media briefings and recordings can be found at: https://www.europlanet-society.org/press-briefings-at-epsc2022/

All Europlanet media releases can be found at: https://www.europlanet-society.org/press/

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 Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC).

About EANA
The European Astrobiology Network Association (http://www.eana-net.eu), joins together people interested in the origins of life and the search for extraterrestrial life in the Solar System and beyond. This interdisciplinary domain involves scientists from multiple disciplines such as chemistry, physics, biology, geology, astronomy, and human sciences.  

Women in Astronomy: still a long way to go

Women in Astronomy: still a long way to go

It has been known for decades: women are under-represented in Astronomy and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields due to various factors suppressing their careers, and the recent global surveys do not show promising trends. 

For this reason, the IAU (International Astronomical Union) strategic plan from 2020-2030 aims to address the challenges faced by Women in Astronomy, foster inclusiveness, and facilitate the advancement of the next generation of astronomers in order to improve ‘gender balance’ and ‘equal opportunity’ in the workplace by adapting effective policies and action plans. 

The situation, in fact, is still dramatic. While there have been global efforts in the past to address these issues and achieve the gender balance in Astronomy, somehow, it has been marginally successful due to ineffective action plans. And the participation of the Astronomy community in inclusiveness, advancement of next-generation astronomers, and gender balance activities is still too low.  

The data collected in 2021 are quite worrying” says Mamta Pandey-Pommier of the LUMP/CNRS, Université de Montpellier (France), chair of the IAU working group. “Among the total IAU members, only 21.2% are female, and an astonishingly low (1.6%) participation of members from both the genders is seen in the Women in Astronomy working group. And of those, only 11.4% is male, indicating that these issues are not yet seen as issues that should concern everyone”.

A possible reason can be found in the lack of funds to support women in astronomy at every career stage. “For example, most of the gender balance-related work is being carried out on a volunteering (unpaid) basis as no funds are provided to address these issues by funding agencies and institutions.” adds Mamta.

In order to raise awareness and participation on the topic, take stock of the situation and analyse possible solutions, the IAU Women in Astronomy Working Group activities and their survey results were presented at EPSC2022 in Granada this week by Mamta and Arianna Piccialli of the Royal Belgium Institute of Space Aeronomy (Belgium) on behalf of the entire Working Group. 

Further information:
Pandey-Pommier, M. and Piccialli, A. and the IAU WiA WG members: IAU Women in Astronomy Working Group activities and survey results, Europlanet Science Congress 2022, Granada, Spain, 18–23 Sep 2022, EPSC2022-1175, 2022.
https://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EPSC2022/EPSC2022-1175.html

How global warming affects astronomical observations

How global warming affects astronomical observations

Astronomical observations from ground-based telescopes are sensitive to local atmospheric conditions. Anthropogenic climate change will negatively affect some of these conditions at observation sites around the globe, as a team of researchers led by the University of Bern and the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) PlanetS report.

The quality of ground-based astronomical observations delicately depends on the clarity of the atmosphere above the location from which they are made. Sites for telescopes are therefore very carefully selected. They are often high above sea level, so that less atmosphere stands between them and their targets. Many telescopes are also built in deserts, as clouds and even water vapour hinder a clear view of the night sky.

A team of researchers led by the University of Bern and the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) PlanetS shows in a study, published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics and presented at the Europlanet Science Congress 2022 in Granada, how one of the major challenges of our time – anthropogenic climate change – now even affects our view of the cosmos.

A blind spot in the selection process

Even though telescopes usually have a lifetime of several decades, site selection processes only consider the atmospheric conditions over a short timeframe. Usually over the past five years – too short to capture long-term trends, let alone future changes caused by global warming,” Caroline Haslebacher, lead author of the study and researcher at the NCCR PlanetS at the University of Bern, points out. The team of researchers from the University of Bern and the NCCR PlanetS, ETH Zurich, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) as well as the University of Reading in the UK therefore took it upon themselves to show the long-term perspective.

Worsening conditions around the globe

Their analysis of future climate trends, based on high resolution global climate models, shows that major astronomical observatories from Hawaii to the Canary Islands, Chile, Mexico, South Africa and Australia will likely experience an increase in temperature and atmospheric water content by 2050.  This, in turn, could mean a loss in observing time as well as a loss of quality in the observations.

Nowadays, astronomical observatories are designed to work under the current site conditions and only have a few possibilities for adaptation. Potential consequences of the climatic conditions for telescopes therefore include a higher risk of condensation due to an increased dew point or malfunctioning cooling systems, which can lead to more air turbulence in the telescope dome,” Haslebacher says.

The fact that the effects of climate change on observatories had not been taken into account before was not an oversight, as study co-author Marie-Estelle Demory says, but was not least due to the state of the art: “This is the first time that such a study has been possible. Thanks to the higher resolution of the global climate models developed through the Horizon 2020 PRIMAVERA project, we were able to examine the conditions at various locations of the globe with great fidelity – something that we were unable to do with conventional models. These models are valuable tools for the work we do at the Wyss Academy,” says the senior scientist at the University of Bern and member of the Wyss Academy for Nature.

This now allows us to say with certainty that anthropogenic climate change must be taken into account in the site selection for next-generation telescopes, and in the construction and maintenance of astronomical facilities,” says Haslebacher.

INFORMATION ABOUT THE PUBLICATION

Haslebacher et al.: Impact of climate change on site characteristics of eight major astronomical observatories, Astronomy & Astrophysics, https://www.aanda.org/10.1051/0004-6361/202142493
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/202142493

IMAGES

The VLT’s Laser Guide Star: A laser beam launched from VLT´s 8.2-metre Yepun telescope crosses the majestic southern sky and creates an artificial star at 90 km altitude in the high Earth´s mesosphere. The Laser Guide Star (LGS) is part of the VLT´s Adaptive Optics system and it is used as reference to correct images from the blurring effect of the atmosphere. © ESO / G. Hüdepohl
Caroline Haslebacher,
Center for Space and Habitability (CSH) and NCCR PlanetS, University of Bern
© Courtesy of Caroline Haslebacher
Dr. Marie-Estelle Demory, Wyss Academy for Nature, University of Bern
© Courtesy of Marie-Estelle Demory

SCIENCE CONTACTS

Caroline Haslebacher
Center for Space and Habitability (CSH), Department of Space Research & Planetary Sciences (WP) and NCCR PlanetS, University of Bern
Phone: +41 31 684 36 21
E-Mail: caroline.haslebacher@unibe.ch

Dr. Marie-Estelle Demory
Wyss Academy for Nature, University of Bern
E-Mail: marie-estelle.demory@wyssacademy.org

CONTACTS

EPSC2022 Press Office
+44 7756 034243
epsc-press@europlanet-society.org

FURTHER INFORMATION 

About Wyss Academy for Nature

The Wyss Academy for Nature at the University of Bern is a place of innovation, where research, business, policymakers and communities come together to co-design solutions for sustainable futures. The Wyss Academy’s mission is to turn scientific knowledge into action. Combining ambitious, innovative goals with a transformative approach, it was founded to develop innovative long-term pathways that strengthen and reconcile biodiversity conservation, human well-being and the sustainable use of natural resources in a variety of landscapes throughout the world. We co-design and implement concrete projects across a swathe of regions and countries. This global structure facilitates the replication of successes and learning. The Wyss Academy for Nature currently operates Hubs in Central Europe (Bern, Switzerland), Southeast Asia, East Africa and South America.

In December 2019, the Wyss Foundation, the University of Bern, and the Canton of Bern signed the tripartite framework agreement for the Wyss Academy for Nature at the University of Bern. In

May 2020, the Wyss Academy was founded as an independent foundation, the foundation Board of Trustees was appointed and the Director was elected. The Wyss Foundation donates within the framework of the Wyss Campaign for Nature a contribution of 100 million Swiss francs. The canton and the University of Bern contribute 50 million francs each.More information: www.wyssacademy.org

About Center for Space and Habitability (CSH)

The mission of the Center for Space and Habitability (CSH) is to foster dialogue and interactions between the various scientific disciplines interested in the formation, detection and characterization of other worlds within and beyond the Solar System, the search for life elsewhere in the Universe, and its implications for disciplines outside of the sciences. The members, affiliates and collaborators include astronomers, astrophysicists and astrochemists, atmospheric, climate and planetary scientists, geologists and geophysicists, biochemists and philosophers. The CSH is home to the CSH and Bernoulli Fellowships, which host young, dynamic and talented researchers from all over the world to conduct independent research. It actively run a series of programs to stimulate interdisciplinary research within the University of Bern including collaborations and/or open dialogue with Medicine, Philosophy and Theology. More information: https://www.csh.unibe.ch/

Bernese space exploration: With the world’s elite since the first moon landing

When the second man, “Buzz” Aldrin, stepped out of the lunar module on July 21, 1969, the first task he did was to set up the Bernese Solar Wind Composition experiment (SWC) also known as the “solar wind sail” by planting it in the ground of the moon, even before the American flag. This experiment, which was planned, built and the results analysed by Prof. Dr. Johannes Geiss and his team from the Physics Institute of the University of Bern, was the first great highlight in the history of Bernese space exploration.

Ever since Bernese space exploration has been among the world’s elite. The University of Bern has been participating in space missions of the major space organizations, such as ESA, NASA and JAXA. It is currently co-leading the European Space Agency’s (ESA) CHEOPS mission with the University of Geneva. In addition, Bernese researchers are among the world leaders when it comes to models and simulations of the formation and development of planets.The successful work of the Department of Space Research and Planetary Sciences (WP) from the Physics Institute of the University of Bern was consolidated by the foundation of a university competence center, the Center for Space and Habitability (CSH). The Swiss National Science Foundation also awarded the University of Bern the National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) PlanetS, which it manages together with the University of Geneva.

About the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 

The Europlanet Science Congress (https://www.epsc2022.eu/) formerly the European Planetary Science Congress, is the annual meeting of the Europlanet Society. With a track record of 16 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 #EPSC2022.

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 Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC).

About EANA

The European Astrobiology Network Association (http://www.eana-net.eu), joins together people interested in the origins of life and the search for extraterrestrial life in the Solar System and beyond. This interdisciplinary domain involves scientists from multiple disciplines such as chemistry, physics, biology, geology, astronomy, and human sciences.  

Four-legged Jumping Robots LEAP to Explore the Moon

Four-legged Jumping Robots LEAP to Explore the Moon

A four-legged robot trained through artificial intelligence has learned the same lesson as the Apollo astronauts – that jumping can be the best way to move around on the surface the Moon. An update on LEAP (Legged Exploration of the Aristarchus Plateau), a mission concept study funded by ESA to explore some of the most challenging lunar terrains, has been presented today at the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022 in Granada by Patrick Bambach.

“LEAP’s target is the Aristarchus plateau, a region of the Moon that is particularly rich in geologic features but highly challenging to access,” said Patrick Bambach of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany. “With the robot, we can investigate key features to study the geologic history and evolution of the Moon, like the ejecta around craters, fresh impact sites, and collapsed lava tubes, where material may not have been altered by space weathering and other processes.”

The LEAP team is working towards the robot being integrated on ESA’s European Large Logistic Lander (EL3), which is scheduled to land on the Moon multiple times from the late 2020s to the early 2030s. LEAP is based on the legged robot, ANYmal, developed at ETH Zürich and its spin-off ANYbotics. It is currently adapted to the lunar environment by a consortium from ETH Zurich, the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, OHB, the University of Münster, and the Open University.

“Traditional rovers have enabled great discoveries on the Moon and Mars, but have limitations,” said Bambach. “Exploring terrain with loose soil, large boulders or slopes over 15 degrees are particularly challenging with wheels. For example, the Mars rover, Spirit, had its mission terminated when it got stuck in sand.”

ANYmal can move in different walking gaits, enabling it to cover large distances in a short amount of time, climb steep slopes, deploy scientific instruments, and even recover in the unlikely event of a fall. The robot can also use its legs to dig channels in the soil, flip over boulders or smaller rocks for further inspection, and pick up samples. 

Initially, the robot has been trained using a Reinforcement Learning approach in a virtual environment to simulate the lunar terrain, gravity and dust properties. It has also been deployed in the field for an outdoor hike.

“Interestingly, ANYmal started to use a jumping-like mode of locomotion, just as the Apollo Astronauts did – realising that jumping can be more energy efficient than walking,” said  Bambach.

The current design remains below 50 kg and includes 10 kg of scientific payload mass, notionally being capable of carrying multispectral sensors, ground penetrating radar, mass spectrometers, gravimeters, and other instrumentation. 

“LEAP’s ability to collect selected samples and bring them to a lander or ascent vehicle offers additional exciting opportunities for sample a return missions in highly challenging environments on the Moon or Mars,” said Bambach.

Images

The LEAP rover is based on the legged robot, ANYmal, developed at ETH Zürich and its spin-off ANYbotics. Credit: ETH Zürich/RSL Robotics Labs
The LEAP rover is based on the legged robot, ANYmal, developed at ETH Zürich and its spin-off ANYbotics. Credit: ETH Zürich/ETH Zürich/Robotics System Lab (RSL)
LEAP (Legged Exploration of the Aristarchus Plateau) is a mission concept study funded by ESA to explore some of the most challenging lunar terrains. Credit:  ETH Zürich/RSL Robotics Labs
LEAP (Legged Exploration of the Aristarchus Plateau) is a mission concept study funded by ESA to explore some of the most challenging lunar terrains. Credit: ETH Zürich/Robotics Systems Labs (RSL)
The LEAP rover is trained using a Reinforcement Learning approach in a virtual environment to simulate the lunar terrain, gravity and dust properties. Credit: ETH Zürich/RSL Robotics Labs
The LEAP rover is trained using a Reinforcement Learning approach in a virtual environment to simulate the lunar terrain, gravity and dust properties. Credit: ETH Zürich/ETH Zürich/Robotics System Lab (RSL)
LEAP’s target is the Aristarchus plateau, a region of the Moon that is particularly rich in geologic features but highly challenging to access.
LEAP’s target is the Aristarchus plateau, a region of the Moon that is particularly rich in geologic features but highly challenging to access. credit: NASA/ESA.

Animations

Video including simulations and a outdoor hike: 

Science Contacts

Patrick Bambach
Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research
Germany

bambach@mps.mpg.de

Media Contacts 

EPSC2022 Press Office
+44 7756 034243
epsc-press@europlanet-society.org

Notes for Editors

About the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 

The Europlanet Science Congress (https://www.epsc2022.eu/) formerly the European Planetary Science Congress, is the annual meeting of the Europlanet Society. With a track record of 16 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 #EPSC2022.

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 Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC).

About EANA

The European Astrobiology Network Association (http://www.eana-net.eu), joins together people interested in the origins of life and the search for extraterrestrial life in the Solar System and beyond. This interdisciplinary domain involves scientists from multiple disciplines such as chemistry, physics, biology, geology, astronomy, and human sciences.  

First 3D renders from JunoCam data reveal “frosted cupcake” clouds on Jupiter

First 3D renders from JunoCam data reveal “frosted cupcake” clouds on Jupiter

Animations of the relative heights of the cloud tops of Jupiter reveal delicately textured swirls and peaks that resemble the frosting on top of a cupcake. The results have been presented today by citizen scientist and professional mathematician and software developer, Gerald Eichstädt, at the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022 in Granada. 

The animation uses data from JunoCam, the visible-light camera onboard NASA’s Juno spacecraft, which has been orbiting Jupiter since 2016. Put on board initially to increase public engagement around the exploration of Jupiter and its moons, a worldwide team of citizen scientists, working in collaboration with professional astronomers and the Juno team, have demonstrated that JunoCam can also provide valuable science. 

“The Juno mission provides us with an opportunity to observe Jupiter in a way which is essentially inaccessible by Earth-based telescopic observations. We can look at the same cloud features from very different angles within only a few minutes.” said Dr Eichstätd. “This has opened up a new opportunity to derive 3D elevation models of Jupiter’s cloud-tops. The images of the wonderful chaotic storms on Jupiter seem to come to life, showing clouds rising at different altitudes.”

Using the different ways in which sunlight is reflected and scattered by clouds, the team has succeeded in pinpointing the elevation of the cloud-tops observed. Solar illumination is most intense for clouds in the upper atmosphere. Deeper in the atmosphere, more light is absorbed – particularly by methane – before being scattered back up to the camera by the cloud tops. 

Understanding the relative heights of the spiky pillars within the swirls will help scientists to unveil in more detail the elements that compose them.  

“From theoretical models, the clouds are expected to be composed of different chemical species, ammonia, ammonium hydrosulphide, and water ice from top to bottom.” added Dr Eichstädt. “Once we calibrate our data thanks to other measurements of the same cloud tops, we will test and refine the theoretical predictions and have a better 3D picture of the chemical composition.”

Images and Videos

Intensity data of visible light seen by a camera can be plotted as a 3D elevation landscape. This is a still from a computer animation showing a flight over such a landscape for processed, red-filtered image data collected by JunoCam, the wide-angle visible light imager of NASA’s Juno spacecraft, during her 43rd close Jupiter flyby. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt
Intensity data of visible light seen by a camera can be plotted as a 3D elevation landscape. This is a still from a computer animation showing a flight over such a landscape for processed, red-filtered image data collected by JunoCam, the wide-angle visible light imager of NASA’s Juno spacecraft, during her 43rd close Jupiter flyby. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt

 

Video

Intensity data of visible light seen by a camera can be plotted as a 3D elevation landscape. This computer animation shows a flight over such a landscape for processed, red-filtered image data collected by JunoCam, the wide-angle visible light imager of NASA’s Juno spacecraft, during her 43rd close Jupiter flyby. The image underlying this fly-over was taken at a nominal altitude of 13,536.3 km above Jupiter’s cloud tops. In general, brighter cloud-tops correlate to their higher elevation, especially when observed in the 890 nanometre methane absorption band. But exceptions exist, mostly induced by cloud-top color and albedo. Juno scientists are working on a calibration which translates these brightness landscapes into models of physical cloud-top elevation models. Video credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt

Further information

Eichstädt, G., Orton, G., and Hansen-Koharcheck, C.: Long-Baseline Observations with JunoCam, Europlanet Science Congress 2022, Granada, Spain, 18–23 Sep 2022, EPSC2022-1124, 2022. 
https://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EPSC2022/EPSC2022-1124.html

Science contacts

Gerald Eichstädt

Freelance Mathematician and Software Developer

Stuttgart, Germany

gerald.eichstaedt@t-online.de

Media contacts 

EPSC2022 Press Office

+44 7756 034243

epsc-press@europlanet-society.org

Notes for Editors

About the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 

The Europlanet Science Congress (https://www.epsc2022.eu/) formerly the European Planetary Science Congress, is the annual meeting of the Europlanet Society. With a track record of 16 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 #EPSC2022.

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 Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC).

About EANA

The European Astrobiology Network Association (http://www.eana-net.eu), joins together people interested in the origins of life and the search for extraterrestrial life in the Solar System and beyond. This interdisciplinary domain involves scientists from multiple disciplines such as chemistry, physics, biology, geology, astronomy, and human sciences.  

Virtual hiking Map for Jezero Crater, the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover Landing Site

Virtual hiking Map for Jezero Crater, the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover Landing Site

Prospective Mars explorers can now take a hike around the landing site of NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover with an interactive map loaded with orbital imagery, terrain data as well as synthetic and real 3D panoramic views of Jezero crater and its surrounding area. The map, which can be accessed through a normal web browser, has been presented today at the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022 in Granada, Spain, by Sebastian Walter of the Freie Universität Berlin.

“The map is the perfect tool for planning a future visit to Mars, with an interactive interface where you can choose from different available base datasets. Some of the slopes are pretty steep, so watch out for those if you want to avoid too much oxygen consumption!” said Sebastian Walter. “To get a real feeling of what to expect on your future Mars trip, you can click on one of the waypoint marker symbols to enter either a fullscreen 3D view or, if you have a Virtual Reality setup, to enter a fully immersive environment. You can even listen to the sounds of the rover if you stand close by, but please don’t touch it – otherwise you would contaminate the probes.” 

The map allows virtual hikers to zoom in and out, and pan rapidly across scenes, so that they can explore the landscape from large scales down to centimetre-detail. Some of the 360° panoramas integrated with the waypoints have been synthetically rendered from orbital image data. Others are real panoramas stitched together from a multitude of single images taken by the Mastcam-Z camera instrument onboard the Mars 2020 Rover Perseverance, which have been provided by the University of Arizona. The sounds have been recorded by the SuperCam instrument on that same rover mission.

The base layer of the map is a merged dataset derived from three different instruments currently orbiting Mars: the HRSC on Mars Express, and the Context Camera (CTX) and High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) instruments on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). The HiRISE data has been provided by provided by the Terrain Relative Navigation (TRN) team of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

The Jezero map builds on the data portal of the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) instrument of ESA’s Mars Express mission, which provides tools to visualise and disseminate large amounts of Mars images and terrain data in an online environment. 

“Initially we created the Jezero map as an outreach application to complement the HRSC Mapserver tool, which supports professional scientists to explore the Martian surface,” said Sebastian Walter. “But as the rover returns more and more high-resolution image data and even audio recordings, it turns out to be the perfect tool for immersive visualisation of that data in a scientific context by itself.”

Further information:

Direct link to the interactive map: https://maps.planet.fu-berlin.de/jezero

Walter, S.H.G., Gross, C., Neesemann, A., Munteanu, R., Jaumann, R., Postberg, F., and Bell, J.: An Interactive Virtual Hiking Map for Jezero Crater, the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover Landing Site, Europlanet Science Congress 2022, Granada, Spain, 18–23 Sep 2022, EPSC2022-32, https://doi.org/10.5194/epsc2022-32, 2022.

Acknowledgements: This work is supported by the German Space Agency (DLR Bonn), grant 50 OO 2204, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action.

Images

Map view with base dataset, clickable viewpoints are marked as droplets. Credit: HiRISE/CTX/HRSC
Map view with base dataset, clickable viewpoints are marked as droplets. Credit: HiRISE/CTX/HRSC
Figure 2: Virtual view from top of the western delta into the crater. Credit: HiRISE/CTX/HRSC
Figure 2: Virtual view from top of the western delta into the crater. Credit: HiRISE/CTX/HRSC
Virtual view from top of Jezero Mons into the crater. Credit: HiRISE/CTX/HRSC
Virtual view from top of Jezero Mons into the crater. Credit: HiRISE/CTX/HRSC
MastcamZ panorama mosaic from the Octavia E. Butler landing site. Credit: Mars 2020/Mastcam-Z/PIA24264, NASA/JPL/ASU/MSSS

Science Contacts

Sebastian Walter
Freie Universität Berlin
Planetary Sciences and Remote Sensing
sebastian.walter@fu-berlin.de

Media Contacts

EPSC2022 Press Office
+44 7756 034243
epsc-press@europlanet-society.org

Notes for Editors

About the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 

The Europlanet Science Congress (https://www.epsc2022.eu/) formerly the European Planetary Science Congress, is the annual meeting of the Europlanet Society. With a track record of 16 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 #EPSC2022.

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 Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC).

About EANA

The European Astrobiology Network Association (http://www.eana-net.eu), joins together people interested in the origins of life and the search for extraterrestrial life in the Solar System and beyond. This interdisciplinary domain involves scientists from multiple disciplines such as chemistry, physics, biology, geology, astronomy, and human sciences.  

The ESA Hera Mission: Investigating binary asteroid (65803) Didymos and the DART crater

The ESA Hera Mission: Investigating binary asteroid (65803) Didymos and the DART crater

One week ahead of the impact by NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft with Dimorphos, the moon of binary asteroid (65803) Didymos, representatives of the European Space Agency’s Hera mission, the Italian LICIACube mission and DART have presented an update on the missions at the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022.

Planetary defense is the preparation of humankind to avoid a catastrophic collision between Earth and asteroids, like the Chicxulub event that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, or the impact of an asteroid that created the 1km-size meteor crater in Arizona about 50 000 years ago. Humanity’s first ever demonstration of asteroid deflection is happening right now: On 26 September 2022, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft will impact the asteroid Dimorphos—which poses no threat to Earth—to change its orbit in a measurable way. The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) manages the DART mission for NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office as a project of the agency’s Planetary Missions Program Office. Using the same technique, humankind could in the future attempt to deviate an asteroid on collision course with Earth if a threat were ever discovered.

Dimorphos is part of an asteroid pair, like the Earth-Moon system, and orbits around a larger asteroid called Didymos. Following DART’s impact, the change in Dimorphos’ orbit can be detected by telescopic observations from Earth, and during a few minutes following the impact, observations of the ejecta from the impact will be attempted by LICIACube, a small briefcase-sized satellite travelling along with DART and contributed by the Italian Space Agency (ASI). Therefore, shortly after the impact, we should know whether DART hit successfully Dimorphos as well as the geological properties of the impact site, whether ejecta have been produced by the impact and we will have a quantification of the resulting orbital change of the target around its central body Didymos. 

However, to further understanding of the impact process and the scaling of the outcome to other asteroids, a follow on investigation of the target asteroid and the crater resulting from DART’s kinetic impact are planned. This detailed investigation will be performed by ESA’s Hera mission. To be launched in 2024, Hera will rendezvous with the Didymos system in late 2026. Together with its two companion “cubesats”, called Juventas and Milani, the mission will perform a full characterization of the deflection measuring the mass of Dimorphos to help further understand the efficiency of the DART impact, as well as studying the impact crater in detail. Additionally, Hera aims to further improve understanding of the kinetic spacecraft impactor process and investigate the physical properties of the target asteroid. This will help enable scaling the impact outcome to other targets.

Integration of the Hera spacecraft and its scientific instruments are ongoing. Together with DART, this pair of missions will not only validate the kinetic impactor asteroid deflection technique but also provide unique clues on the formation processes of binary asteroids and ultimately of the Solar System.

2022 Farinella Prize Awarded to Julie Castillo-Rogez and Martin Jutzi

2022 Farinella Prize Awarded to Julie Castillo-Rogez and Martin Jutzi

Dr Julie Castillo-Rogez, a planetary scientist working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California (USA), and Dr Martin Jutzi, a physicist working at the Physics Institute of University of Bern (Switzerland), have been awarded jointly the 2022 Paolo Farinella Prize for their outstanding contributions to the field of “Asteroids: Physics, Dynamics, Modelling and Observations”. The award ceremony took place during the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022 in Granada, Spain, and was followed by a 15-minute prize lecture from each of the winners.

The annual Prize was established in 2010 to honour the memory of the Italian scientist Paolo Farinella (1953-2000). The Prize acknowledges an outstanding researcher not older than 47 years (the age of Farinella when he passed away) who has achieved important results in one of Farinella’s fields of work. Each year the Prize focuses on a different research area and, in 2022, the twelfth edition was devoted to asteroids, which in recent years have become an increasingly important area of interest for the scientific community.

Dr Castillo-Rogez has made significant contributions to our understanding of the physical and chemical evolutions of small and mid-sized Solar System bodies. Through modelling and synthesis of existing data, she has gleaned information about the origins and dynamical evolution of objects from the main belt, between Mars and Jupiter, to the trans-Neptunian region, i.e. the region that extends farther from the Sun than the planet Neptune. Her multi-disciplinary expertise, which embraces geology, geophysics and planetology, has allowed her to apply increasingly sophisticated tools to understand the geochemical evolution of objects potentially characterised by volatile elements. Dr Castillo-Rogez’s contribution was critical to the success of the Dawn mission at the dwarf planet Ceres: before the mission, her studies paved the way to understanding that Ceres likely had a subsurface ocean in its past, and might still harbour brines; after the mission, her analysis of Dawn’s data advanced the hypothesis that mid-sized cold bodies could be past or present ocean worlds.

Dr Jutzi has made outstanding contributions to the study of collisional processes involving bodies ranging from small asteroids to planetary scales. In particular, he developed a state-of-the-art Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamic (SPH) shock physics code specially suited to study the regimes of collisions among small bodies where the complex effects of material strength, friction, porosity as well as gravity determine the outcome concurrently. Dr Jutzi also succeeded in reproducing the evolution of the asteroid Vesta’s observed shape following two overlapping planet-scale collisions, and even provided maps of impact excavation and deposition of ejected materials. Recently, he contributed to the numerical modelling of the impact of NASA’s DART mission on the moon of the binary asteroid Didymos, which showed that the small moon Dimorphos may be entirely reshaped by the impact.

Overall, Dr Castillo-Rogez’s and Dr Jutzi’s work have led to a deeper understanding of the nature and evolution of asteroids, both from a theoretical and an observational point of view. 

Dr Castillo-Rogez received her MS in Geophysics and her PhD in Planetary Geophysics at University of Rennes (France). She is currently Associate Scientist for the Planetary Science Directorate at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (California, USA).

Dr Jutzi received his MS in Physics at University of Bern (Switzerland) and then his PhD in Physics at University of Bern and Nice Observatory (France). He now holds the position of Senior Researcher at University of Bern.

Before receiving the Prize, Dr Castillo-Rogez commented “I am honored to win this prize, especially as there are so many deserving colleagues out there. The bulk of my work is based on the observations returned by the Cassini-Huygens and Dawn mission, both built on highly successful international collaborations. Working with these teams has been an incredible experience and led to long-lasting friendships on both sides of the Atlantic. So this makes receiving this prize at EPSC 2022 very special. Unfortunately, I have never had the privilege to meet Dr. Farinella, although I have many times referred to his work.”

Dr Jutzi said: “I am very honoured to be awarded the Paolo Farinella Prize. For me this is an important recognition of my contribution to the understanding of asteroid physics, in particular the impact processes that determined the evolution and current state of these objects – some of them being explored by ongoing space missions as we speak. I am grateful to my scientific mentors and colleagues who have helped me achieve this.”

 About the Paolo Farinella Prize

The Paolo Farinella Prize (https://www.europlanet-society.org/paolo-farinella-prize/) was established to honour the memory and the outstanding figure of Paolo Farinella (1953-2000), an extraordinary scientist and person, in recognition of significant contributions given in the fields of interest of Farinella, which span from planetary sciences to space geodesy, fundamental physics, science popularisation, and security in space, weapons control and disarmament. The winner of the prize is selected each year on the basis of his/her overall research results in a chosen field, among candidates with international and interdisciplinary collaborations, not older than 47 years, the age of Farinella when he passed away, at the date of 25 March 2000. The prize was first proposed during the “International Workshop on Paolo Farinella the scientist and the man,” held in Pisa in 2010, supported by the University of Pisa, ISTI/CNR and by IAPS-INAF (Rome).

The first “Paolo Farinella Prize” was awarded in 2011 to William Bottke, for his contribution to the field of “physics and dynamics of small solar system bodies”. In 2012 the Prize went to John Chambers, for his contribution to the field of “formation and early evolution of the solar system”. In 2013, to Patrick Michel, for his work in the field of “collisional processes in the solar system.” In 2014, to David Vokrouhlicky for his contributions to “our understanding of the dynamics and physics of solar system, including how pressure from solar radiation affects the orbits of both asteroids and artificial satellites”, in 2015 to Nicolas Biver for his studies of “the molecular and isotopic composition of cometary volatiles by means of submillimetre and millimetre ground and space observations”, and in 2016 to Kleomenis Tsiganis for “his studies of the applications of celestial mechanics to the dynamics of planetary systems, including the development of the Nice model”. In 2017, to Simone Marchi for his contributions to “understanding the complex problems related to the impact history and physical evolution of the inner Solar System, including the Moon”. In 2018, to Francis Nimmo, for his contributions in our “understanding of the internal structure and evolution of icy bodies in the Solar System and the resulting influence on their surface processes”. In 2019, to Scott Sheppard and Chad Trujillo, for their outstanding collaborative work for the “observational characterisation of the Kuiper belt and the Neptune-trojan population”. In 2020, to Jonathan Fortney and Heather Knutson for their significant contribution in our “understanding of the structure, evolution and atmospheric dynamics of giant planets”. Finally, in 2021, to Diana Valencia and Lena Noack, for their significant contributions in “our understanding of the interior structure and dynamics of terrestrial and super-Earth exoplanets”.

Images

Julie Castillo-Rogez. Credit: J Castillo-Rogez

Martin Jutzi. Credit: M Jutzi

The Farinella Prize winners 2022, Julie Castillo-Rogez of JPL (left) and Martin Jutzi of the University of Bern (right). The prizes were presented by Alessandro Rossi, IFAC-CNR, Italy.

Science Contacts

Julie Castillo-Rogez
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
julie.c.castillo@jpl.nasa.gov

Martin Jutzi
University of Bern
Space Research & Planetary Sciences
+41 31 684 85 49
martin.jutzi@andre-gallispace-unibe-ch

Media Contacts

EPSC2022 Press Office
+44 7756 034243
epsc-press@europlanet-society.org

Notes for Editors

About the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 

The Europlanet Science Congress (https://www.epsc2022.eu/) formerly the European Planetary Science Congress, is the annual meeting of the Europlanet Society. With a track record of 16 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 #EPSC2022.

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 Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC).

About EANA

The European Astrobiology Network Association (http://www.eana-net.eu), joins together people interested in the origins of life and the search for extraterrestrial life in the Solar System and beyond. This interdisciplinary domain involves scientists from multiple disciplines such as chemistry, physics, biology, geology, astronomy, and human sciences.  

Star Light Simulator illuminates the search for life around the Milky Way’s most common stars

Star Light Simulator illuminates the search for life around the Milky Way’s most common stars

Italian researchers have demonstrated experimentally for the first time that microorganisms can photosynthesise using the infrared-dominated light emitted by the most common type of star in the Milky Way.  The results from the Star Light Simulator, presented at the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022, suggest that life could develop around stars different from our Sun and produce oxygen-rich worlds that are habitable by more complex organisms.

Most stars in our Milky Way are the smallest type of hydrogen-burning star, known as red M-dwarfs. They are cooler and less luminous than our Sun and primarily emit light in the infrared and far-infrared, with very low emissions at visible wavelengths. Due to their abundance, many exoplanets have been found around M-dwarfs. However, whether or not these planets could support life has been the subject of much debate in recent years. 

The Star Light Simulator, built by a collaboration of teams from the National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF), the Institute of Photonics and Nanotechnology (IFN-CNR) and the Department of Biology in Padua, can generate light intensities and spectra at different ranges to reproduce the light for any star. For this experimental setup, the team recreated the emitted light from an M-dwarf along with an atmospheric simulator chamber that replicated an artificial planetary environment. 

“We initially focused on cyanobacteria since they have extraordinary capacities to withstand every environment on the Earth, as well as a known ability to survive in near-infrared light,” said Prof Nicoletta La Rocca of the University of Padua, who led the study. “When these acclimatised to the simulated environment, we extended our tests to mosses and various types of red and green microalgae.”

All the experiments were successful, with all the microrganisms demonstrating that they could grow and photosynthesise under M-dwarf light. 

Prof La Rocca commented: “Life as we know it depends on liquid water, so that is one of the major criteria for an exoplanet to be considered to be habitable. More complex terrestrial life forms also depend on oxygen. On Earth, photosynthesising cyanobacteria played a vital role in oxidising our atmosphere. The new experimental results extend our knowledge of potentially habitable environments and hence, where we might expect to find a planet harbouring complex life.”

FURTHER INFORMATION

The results have been submitted for publication in a special issue of the open-access Life journal in the special issue “Frontiers in Extremophiles: From Life at Edges on Earth to Space Exploration”.

La Rocca, N., Battistuzzi, M., Claudi, R., Cocola, L., and Poletto, L.: Responses of eukaryotic photosynthetic organisms to simulated M-dwarf star light. , Europlanet Science Congress 2022, Granada, Spain, 18–23 Sep 2022, EPSC2022-495, 2022.

https://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EPSC2022/EPSC2022-495.html

IMAGES

The Star Light Simulator (left) and illuminated (right). It has 25 channels in total, emitting light from 365 nanometres (UV light) to 940 nanometres (infrared light). Credit: La Rocca et al.

The Star Light Simulator (left) and illuminated (right). It has 25 channels in total, emitting light from 365 nanometres (UV light) to 940 nanometres (infrared light). Credit: La Rocca et al.
M-dwarfs stars display a very different range of properties compared to Sun-like stars, impacting the potential for life on planets orbiting those stars. Credit: T Roger/Europlanet 2024 RI

SCIENCE CONTACTS

Prof Nicoletta La Rocca
Department of Biology
University of Padua
nicoletta.larocca@unipd.it

CONTACTS

EPSC2022 Press Office
+44 7756 034243
epsc-press@europlanet-society.org

FURTHER INFORMATION 

About the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 

The Europlanet Science Congress (https://www.epsc2022.eu/) formerly the European Planetary Science Congress, is the annual meeting of the Europlanet Society. With a track record of 16 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 #EPSC2022.

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 Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC).

About EANA

The European Astrobiology Network Association (http://www.eana-net.eu), joins together people interested in the origins of life and the search for extraterrestrial life in the Solar System and beyond. This interdisciplinary domain involves scientists from multiple disciplines such as chemistry, physics, biology, geology, astronomy, and human sciences.  

Earth-like exoplanets unlikely to be another ‘pale blue dot’

Earth-like exoplanets unlikely to be another ‘pale blue dot’

When searching for Earth-like worlds around other stars, instead of looking for the ‘pale blue dot’ described by Carl Sagan, new research suggests that a hunt for dry, cold ‘pale yellow dots’ might have a better chance of success. The near balance of land-to-water that has helped life flourish on Earth could be highly unusual, according to a Swiss-German study presented at the Europlanet Science Congress 2022 in Granada. 

Tilman Spohn and Dennis Höning studied how the evolution and cycles of continents and water could shape the development of terrestrial exoplanets. Results from their models suggest that planets have approximately an 80 percent probability of being mostly covered by land, with 20 percent likely to be mainly oceanic worlds. Barely one percent of the outcomes had an Earth-like distribution of land and water.

“We Earthlings enjoy the balance between land areas and oceans on our home planet. It is tempting to assume that a second Earth would be just like ours, but our modelling results suggest that this is not likely to be the case,” said Prof Spohn, Executive Director of the International Space Science Institute in Bern, Switzerland.

The team’s numerical models suggest that the average surface temperatures would not be too different, with perhaps a 5° Celsius variation, but that the land-to-ocean distribution would affect the planets’ climates. An ocean world, with less than 10 percent land, would likely be moist and warm, with a climate similar to the Earth in the tropic and subtropic epoch that followed the asteroid impact that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. 

The continental worlds, with less than 30 percent oceans, would feature colder, drier and harsher climates. Cool deserts might occupy in the inner parts of landmasses, and overall they would resemble our Earth sometime during the last Ice Age, when extensive glaciers and ice-sheets developed.

On Earth, the growth of continents by volcanic activity and their erosion by weathering is approximately balanced. Life based on photosynthesis thrives on land, where it has direct access to solar energy. The oceans provide a huge reservoir of water that enhances rainfall and prevent the present climate from becoming too dry. 

“In the engine of Earth’s plate tectonics, internal heat drives geologic activity, such as earthquakes, volcanoes and mountain building, and results in the growth of continents. The land’s erosion is part of a series of cycles that exchange water between the atmosphere and the interior. Our numerical models of how these cycles interact show that present-day Earth may be an exceptional planet, and that the equilibrium of landmass may be unstable over billions of years. While all the planets modelled could be considered habitable, their fauna and flora may be quite different,” said Prof Spohn.

Further information:

Spohn, T. and Hoening, D.: Land/Ocean Surface Diversity on Earth-like (Exo)planets: Implications for Habitability, Europlanet Science Congress 2022, Granada, Spain, 18–23 Sep 2022, EPSC2022-506, 2022. https://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EPSC2022/EPSC2022-506.html

Images

Terrestrial planets can evolve in three scenarios of land/ocean distribution: covered by lands, oceans or an equal mix of both. The land-covered planet is the most probable scenario ( around 80%), while our “equal mix” Earth (<1% chance) is even more unique than previously thought.

Modelling shows that the probabilities of three very-different looking types of terrestrial planets  (covered with land, ocean or an equal mix of both) vary widely, while highly impacting their climate and thus their habitability.
Modelling shows that the probabilities of three very-different looking types of terrestrial planets (covered with land, ocean or an equal mix of both) vary widely, while highly impacting their climate and thus their habitability. Credit: Europlanet 2024 RI/T. Roger.

Image showing the Earth from a distance of 6 billion kilometres, taken by the NASA Voyager 1 spacecraft in 1990. It has become iconic as the “pale blue dot”. The image was newly processed and released by NASA in 2020.  

Image showing the Earth from a distance of 6 billion kilometres, taken by the NASA Voyager 1 spacecraft in 1990. It has become iconic as the “pale blue dot”.
Image showing the Earth from a distance of 6 billion kilometres, taken by the NASA Voyager 1 spacecraft in 1990. It has become iconic as the “pale blue dot”. The image was newly processed and released by NASA in 2020. Credit:

Science Contacts

Prof. Tilman Spohn
International Space Science Institute
Bern, Switzerland 
tilman.spohn@issibern.ch

Media Contacts

EPSC2022 Press Office
+44 7756 034243
epsc-press@europlanet-society.org

Notes for Editors

About the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 

The Europlanet Science Congress (https://www.epsc2022.eu/) formerly the European Planetary Science Congress, is the annual meeting of the Europlanet Society. With a track record of 16 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 #EPSC2022.

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 Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC).

About EANA

The European Astrobiology Network Association (http://www.eana-net.eu), joins together people interested in the origins of life and the search for extraterrestrial life in the Solar System and beyond. This interdisciplinary domain involves scientists from multiple disciplines such as chemistry, physics, biology, geology, astronomy, and human sciences.  

When astronomy went virtual

When astronomy went virtual

Astronomy is a powerful tool to bring people closer to science – even in challenging times, such as those of the COVID-19 pandemic. The beauty of the night sky, the charm of distant and exotic phenomena, the continuous discoveries in space exploration: all of these elements intrigue the public, especially young people, promoting at the same time a sense of solidarity and union between people. 

Right from the beginning of the COVID-19 emergency, in fact, many professional and amateur groups have become involved with live streaming astronomical events to the general public. At the beginning, these events served as a way of providing sky watching and science outreach opportunities during the confinement conditions imposed by the pandemic. But now, they have become an extraordinary tool to share these topics with a wide audience spread over many countries around the world.

In order to reflect on some of the lessons learned from these initiatives, a Monday-evening session at EPSC2022 in Granada will bring together researchers and public outreach practitioners from across Europe.

The session will also look ahead to future celestial events — for example, an upcoming partial solar eclipse on 25 October  — and discuss how the astronomy community can capitalise on the opportunities they create.

The chairperson of the session is Graham Jones, an astrophysicist and science communicator at timeanddate.com, the world’s leading website for time and time zones, that has been broadcasting eclipses and transits since 2016.

The co-conveners of the session are Claudia Mignone, astrophysicist and science communicator at INAF, the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics, and Helen Usher, research student at the Open University in the UK who works with the Faulkes Telescope Educational Project and leads on the Comet Chasers education and outreach project.

The session at EPSC2022 will be held on 19 September at 17:30 CEST in Room Andalucia 3.

An online follow-up workshop is being planned for Wednesday, 23 November (starting at 13:00 CET) — anyone involved with providing astronomy live streams is invited to join this virtual session. Anyone interested is welcome to get in touch with Graham Jones via graham@timeanddate.com