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.  

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.  

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.  

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

Dazzling Views of Mars with JWST Presented Today at EPSC2022

Dazzling Views of Mars with JWST Presented Today at Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022

NASA’s JWST mission captured its first images and spectra of Mars on 5 September. The telescope, an international collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the CSA (Canadian Space Agency), provides a unique perspective with its infrared sensitivity on our neighboring planet, complementing data being collected by orbiters, rovers, and other telescopes. The images were presented today at a briefing at EPSC2022, and reported in a blog on the NASA website.

Videos

In an interview at EPSC2022, Dr Niamh Shaw spoke with the team behind the new images about their first glimpse of Mars with Webb.

Images

Webb’s first images of Mars, captured by its NIRCam instrument Sept. 5, 2022 [Guaranteed Time Observation Program 1415]. Left: Reference map of the observed hemisphere of Mars from NASA and the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA). Top right: NIRCam image showing 2.1-micron (F212 filter) reflected sunlight, revealing surface features such as craters and dust layers. Bottom right: Simultaneous NIRCam image showing ~4.3-micron (F430M filter) emitted light that reveals temperature differences with latitude and time of day, as well as darkening of the Hellas Basin caused by atmospheric effects. The bright yellow area is just at the saturation limit of the detector. Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Mars JWST/GTO team.
Webb’s first near-infrared spectrum of Mars, captured by the Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) Sept. 5, 2022, as part of the Guaranteed Time Observation Program 1415, over 3 slit gratings (G140H, G235H, G395H). The spectrum is dominated by reflected sunlight at wavelengths shorter than 3 microns and thermal emission at longer wavelengths. Preliminary analysis reveals the spectral dips appear at specific wavelengths where light is absorbed by molecules in Mars’ atmosphere, specifically carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and water. Other details reveal information about dust, clouds, and surface features. By constructing a best-fit model of the spectrum, by the using, for example, the Planetary Spectrum Generator, abundances of given molecules in the atmosphere can be derived. Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Mars JWST/GTO team.

Final Media Invitation and Details of Media Briefings: Solar System Observations with Webb; Hera/Dart/LICIACube; Innovations in robotic exploration and visualisation techniques.

Final Media Invitation and Details of Media Briefings

Solar System Observations with Webb; Hera/Dart/LICIACube; Innovations in robotic exploration and visualisation techniques.

The 2022 Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) will take place at the Palacio de Congresos de Granada, Spain, from 18-23 September 2022. The meeting this year will take place as a joint event with the European Astrobiology Network Association (EANA), bringing together planetary scientists and researchers working on the possibility of life beyond the Earth.

More than 1200 oral and poster presentations have been submitted and over 1000 planetary scientists from Europe and around the world have registered to attend the meeting. Media representatives are cordially invited to attend the EPSC2022 meeting. Media registration is free. Any bona fide media delegates can register by e-mailing epsc-press@europlanet-society.org.

PRESS BRIEFINGS:

To attend press briefings in-person, please make sure that you have received a TAN code waiver and registered as media for the meeting by emailing epsc-press@europlanet-society.org. To attend online, please follow the Zoom registration links below and you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the live stream.

Press Briefing on Monday, 19 September 2022

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_l7De2qq1SBWBX9ETIfCQcg

The press briefing on Monday, 19 September will cover two topics. The Zoom link is the same for both.

ESA Hera Mission: Investigating binary asteroid (65803) Didymos and the DART crater 
14:15 CEST / 13:15 BST / 08:15 EDT

One week ahead of the impact by NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft with the asteroid Dimorphos, representatives of the European Space Agency’s Hera mission, the Italian LICIACube mission and DART will present an update for the media.

Speakers:

  • Michael Küppers, Hera Project Scientist, European Space Astronomy Centre
  • Andy Rivkin, DART Investigation Team Lead, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
  • LICIACube Team representative (TBC)

Solar System Observations with Webb 
15:00 CEST / 14:00 BST / 09:00 EDT

Speakers:

  • Giuliano Liuzzi, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Sara Faggi, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Ann-Carine Vandaele, Institut royal d’Aeronomie Spatiale de Belgique
  • Geronimo Villanueva, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center,

Press Briefing on Wednesday, 21 September 2022

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_ubhgAGj_RqOJ17o_6ppFug

Exploring the planets: Innovations in robotic exploration and visualisation techniques.
14:00 CEST / 13:00 BST / 08:00 EDT

Speakers:

  • Sebastian Walter, FU Berlin
  • Patrick Bambach, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research
  • Gerald Eichstäd, Citizen Scientist

Any updates to the line-up of speakers will be published on this page.

Details of the scientific sessions and the presentation abstracts can be found at the official website: https://www.epsc2022.eu/

An overview of the programme can be found here

CONTACTS

Anita Heward
EPSC2022 Press Officer
+44 7756 034243
aheward@europlanet-society.org
epsc-press@europlanet-society.org

Adriana Postiglione
EPSC2022 Press Officer
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.  

Get creative with Europlanet’s #InspiredByOtherWorlds arts contest 2022

Get creative with Europlanet’s #InspiredByOtherWorlds arts contest 2022

See the winning entries for #InspiredByOtherWorlds 2022!

The Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022 is inviting schools  and space enthusiasts of all ages to get creative and share their artworks and performances inspired by other worlds in a contest called #InspiredByOtherWorlds.

The theme this year is ‘Interception’

Gallery of Entries

WordPress Photo Gallery Plugin

About the contest

With missions like ArtemisComet InterceptorDART and LICIACube in the headlines, this year’s contest looks at ideas around meeting, moving and impact in relation to planetary exploration!

Art is meant to inspire. Art is meant to be shared. Art allows us to go beyond our limits. Planetary science takes us beyond the limits of our world. What happens when a passion for art and a passion for exploring planets and other worlds meet? Let your imagination take us on a voyage through our Solar System and planets around distant stars! Show us how you have been inspired to create drawings, storytelling, pictures, videos, models, craft works or art installations at home. 

The deadline for the competition has been extended to 15 December 2022. Late submissions will not be accepted.

Early entries for #InspiredByOtherWorlds submitted by 22 September 2022 were showcased on digital screens at the conference centre and during the closing ceremony of EPSC2022. 

All artworks submitted will be judged by a panel of planetary scientists and artists. The winning artworks or performances will be shared via the Europlanet website, newsletters and social media and will be used to inspire young people in future Europlanet outreach activities.

So keep creating! 

Rules

For all the information about the contest, see the #InspiredByOtherWorlds FAQ page. If you’d also like to share on social media please use the hashtags #InspiredByOtherWorlds #EPSC2022.

#InspiredByOtherWorlds 2022 contest banner
#InspiredByOtherWorlds 2022 contest banner

If you have any questions, please contact stavro.ivanovski@inaf.it .

Enter the contest

EPSC2022, 18 – 23 September 2022: 1st Media Announcement

EPSC2022, 18 – 23 September 2022: 1st Media Announcement

The 2022 Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) will take place at the Palacio de Congresos de Granada, Spain, from 18-23 September 2022. The meeting this year will take place as a joint event with the European Astrobiology Network Association (EANA), bringing together planetary scientists and researchers working on the possibility of life beyond the Earth.

EPSC2022 covers the full spectrum of planetary research and technology across more than 60 scientific sessions, with topics including current and upcoming missions, international collaborations, space weather influencing Earth, planet formation, the role of impacts, and astrobiology. The programme this year is supplemented by keynotes, debates, morning briefings and community events, including a multi-agency panel dialogue on Venus exploration. More than 1200 oral and poster presentations have been submitted and over 1000 planetary scientists from Europe and around the world are expected to attend the meeting.

EPSC2022 will take place largely as an in-person meeting, without the possibility of live virtual participation in the standard scientific sessions. However, scientific sessions will be recorded and made accessible for registered meeting participants and members of the Europlanet Society. 

Press briefings will be livestreamed and press notices on presentations of interest to the media will be issued by the EPSC2022 Press Office during the meeting. Details of press briefings and webcast access will be circulated closer to the time.

Details of the scientific sessions and the presentation abstracts can be found at the official website: https://www.epsc2022.eu/

An overview of the programme can be found here

The detailed programme can be found here.

The meeting hashtag is #EPSC2022.

MEDIA REGISTRATION

Media representatives are cordially invited to attend the EPSC2022 meeting. Media registration is free. Any bona fide media delegates can register by e-mailing epsc-press@europlanet-society.org.

CONTACTS

Anita Heward
EPSC2022 Press Officer
+44 7756 034243
aheward@europlanet-society.org
epsc-press@europlanet-society.org

Adriana Postiglione
EPSC2022 Press Officer
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.  

EPSC2022 Social Media and Media Internships – Call for Applications

EPSC2022 Social Media and Media Internships – Call for Applications

We’re offering paid in-person internships to support applicants in developing social media and science communication skills. Interns will join the communications team for the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC), the largest annual planetary science meeting in Europe. EPSC2022 will take place in Granada, Spain, from 18-23 September.

Social Media Internships

Successful applicants for the social media internship will support the social media team in covering live sessions during the EPSC2022.

Media Internships

Successful applicants for the media internship will support the press office team in preparing materials for the media.

About EPSC2022

EPSC2022 covers a broad area of science topics related to planetary science and planetary missions. EPSC will this year be jointly organized with the annual EANA (European Astrobiology Network Association) Conference 2022, and will therefore include a large number of sessions with an astrobiology focus. The programme of the congress will contain oral and poster sessions, as well as workshops and panel discussions and provide opportunities for interaction between the participants. EPSC2022 will take place as an in-person meeting.

Apply

If you are interested in taking part in the social media or media internship programme, please complete the application form below.

The deadline for applications is now closed.

Shortlisted applicants may be contacted for a short interview with the EPSC Communications team via Zoom. Successful applicants will be notified by the end of July. Successful applicants will be paid €750 (as well as travel, accommodation and sustenance costs) and will be required to attend the meeting from Monday 18 – Friday 23 September.

If you have any questions, please contact the Europlanet 2024 RI Communications Manager, Anita Heward.

Download the flyer.

EPSC2022: Call for Abstracts

Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022

Palacio de Congresos de Granada, Spain | 18–23 September 2022 

The world-wide community of planetary scientists is invited to submit an abstract for presentation of their recent work at the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022, which will take place at Palacio de Congresos de Granada, Spain, 18–23 September 2022. 

EPSC will be jointly organized with the annual EANA (European Astrobiology Network Association) Conference 2022. 

We are looking forward to meeting everyone in person this year in Granada. The ethos for EPSC2022 is to create a simple, flexible, and inclusive meeting that provides multiple opportunities for interaction, scientific discussion, and networking. The programme of the congress will contain oral and poster sessions, as well as workshops and panel discussions. 

The current list of sessions is organized around the following Programme Groups: 

  • Terrestrial Planets (TP) 
  • Outer Planet Systems (OPS) 
  • Missions, Instrumentation, Techniques, Modelling (MITM) 
  • Small Bodies (comets, KBOs, rings, asteroids, meteorites, dust) (SB) 
  • Exoplanets, Origins of Planetary Systems and Astrobiology (EXOA) 
  • Outreach, Diversity, Amateur Astronomy (ODAA) 

The scientific programme and the abstract submission tool are accessible at this link>>

Please browse the list of sessions and identify the session that most closely matches your area of interest; your abstract can be submitted directly to that session. 

You may see all deadlines & milestones of the conference at this link >>

Information on registration and social events, as well as a separate online request form for requesting splinter meetings & workshops, will also be available soon on the meeting website. 

Please forward this message to colleagues who may be interested.  

We look forward to seeing you in Granada!

With best wishes, 

Lena Noack & Nigel Mason 
on behalf of the EPSC Executive Committee 

Stavro Ivanovski & Ákos Kereszturi  
on behalf of the Scientific Organizing Committee 

Mario Ebel 
on behalf of Copernicus Meetings 

#InspiredByOtherWorlds: the winners are…

#InspiredByOtherWorlds Arts contest 2021: the winners are…

The winning artworks for the #InspiredByOtherWorlds Arts Contest 2021 were announced during a virtual award ceremony on 20th December. The winners are listed below. Many congratulations to all the winning artists and thanks to all participant for their submissions.

Youth, Adult and Group Winners

View all the entries to the contest.

Youth Category

Adult Category

Group Category


Awards Ceremony

An awards ceremony was held on Monday 20th December. Download the full presentation.

Back to #InspiredByOtherWorlds Contest main page

EPSC Goes Live for Schools 2021 – Video Presentations and Plain Language Summaries

EPSC Goes Live for Schools 2021 – Video Presentations and Plain Language Summaries

Out of more than 800 scientific presentations submitted for EPSC2021, we have selected four video talks on topics that may be of interest to schools. On-demand videos and plain language summaries are below.

Abundance of water oceans on high-density exoplanets from coupled interior-atmosphere modeling’ by Philipp Baumeister

Liquid water is a very important ingredient when searching for life, but we don’t currently have the technology to directly detect oceans on planets orbiting other stars, called ‘exoplanets’. In this talk Philipp Baumeister of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) explains the results of an interesting study of 30 000 simulated rocky exoplanets with up to five times the mass of Earth and different internal structures, ranging from ones like the Moon- to ones like Mercury. 

The purpose of the study was to investigate which kinds of planets are most likely to collect and hold on to surface water. The main finding is that planets with higher density than the Earth could be the most promising candidates for hosting liquid water. 

The analysis takes into account the numerous mechanisms that influence the long-term evolution of rocky planets, as well as atmospheric cycles and all the feedback processes of the between a planet’s atmosphere and interior. High-density planets seem to be more capable of transferring, through outgassing from volcanic eruptions, the water stored in the mantle into the atmosphere. They are also better at preserving water on their surface, and avoiding a situation where the oceans evaporate and enter an inhospitable greenhouse regime with a thick, hot steam atmosphere.

In the near future, these high-density planets could become the perfect targets for further studies and large exploratory missions.

Rover testing for lunar science and innovation’ by Chirayu Mohan

In this talk Chirayu Mohan, from the Technological University of Dublin, talks to us about testing a rover called REMMI (Rover for EuroMoonMars Investigations). REMMI was built as part of the EuroMoonMars Investigations, a series of experiments pthat take place at locations on Earth that resemble the Moon or Mars, known as analogue environments.

 During the indoor and outdoor testing procedures, carried out at the Analog Astronaut Training Center in Poland and in Mount Etna in Italy, the rover was made to move on different surfaces (from plastic to carpets and rocks) and on steep slopes to find out how well it worked. The team also tested REMMI’s rover camera system for remote operation, and the quality of its pictures and recognition of different features of the environment. The experiments show that REMMI could become a sort of ‘assistant’ in the field, able to provide support during manoeuvers and to help astronauts in collecting samples. The team will use lessons learned to improve REMMI’s design.

‘The Europa Lander Mission Concept: In Situ Exploration of an Ocean World’ by Melissa Cameron

In this talk Melissa Cameron shows us the main features and status of the Europa Lander, a concept for a mission dedicated to the study of Europa, one of Jupiter’s most famous moons. Europa is thought to contain a global ocean of salty liquid water under its frozen crust, so the moon is a scientifically strategic target for both planetary science and astrobiology, potentially providing a stable environment for life. 

If selected by NASA, the Europa Lander mission would be launched in about ten years time. The concept for the mission aims at going in search of biological traces on Europa, estimating its habitability and, last but not least, measuring the properties of the moon’s surface and subsurface to facilitate future explorations. The lander will scrape the surface and collect the samples from ~10 cm beneath the surface, then  transferring them to a miniature laboratory within the robotic lander for analysis. 

This mission would be the first mission to the surface of Europa. With the right balance of technical risk, science return and cost, it could enable us to achieve a new understanding of this fascinating icy worlds.

‘ESA Scientific Exploration of the Moon’ by Francesca McDonald

In this talk Francesca McDonald, Moon Exploration Scientist at the European Space Agency (ESA),
explains how ESA is working with international partners from the USA, Russia, Japan, India and China
to prepare for scientific exploration of the Moon between now and the early 2030s.

ESA’s strategy for science on the Moon is structured around seven ‘campaigns’ that tackle the main
unanswered scientific questions about Earth’s natural satellite, and the technological challenges that
need to be overcome for humans to live and work on the Moon.

The campaigns include: a detailed investigation of the lunar poles, where water ice is trapped and
protected from the Sun in deeply shadowed craters; plans to monitor dust and charged particles
that surround the Moon; geological measurements to study the surface and to try to understand
what’s happening deep inside the Moon; biological and technological studies to pave the way for life
support; and using the unique environment of the Moon for physics experiments to study the early
universe and test the theory of relativity.

Technology demonstrator projects currently being built and tested include a ‘can-opener’ for
carefully extracting and preserving samples of lunar rock that have remained sealed since they were
collected by the Apollo astronauts 50 years ago, and an experimental set-up for extracting oxygen
and water from lunar soil.

With NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) and the Russian Luna-27 mission,
carrying ESA’s PROSPECT instrument package, and NASA’s Artemis crewed mission all due to land on
the Moon by the mid-2020s, the next few years will see renewed excitement in lunar exploration.

Download the full transcript of Francesca McDonald’s Keynote Talk.

More on EPSC Goes Live for Schools at Lecturers Without Borders website.


EPSC2021: Scientists use seasons to find water for future Mars astronauts

EPSC2021: Scientists use seasons to find water for future Mars astronauts

An international team of researchers has used seasonal variations to identify likely sub-surface deposits of water ice in the temperate regions of Mars where it would be easiest for future human explorers to survive. The results are being presented this week by Dr Germán Martínez at the European Planetary Science Conference (EPSC) 2021.

Using data from NASA’s Mars Odyssey, which has spent almost 20 years orbiting the Red Planet, Martínez and his colleagues have identified two areas of particular interest: Hellas Planitia and Utopia Rupes, respectively in the southern and northern hemisphere. Seasonal variations in levels of hydrogen detected suggests that significant quantities water ice can be found in the metre or so below the surface in these regions. 

Martínez, of the Lunar and Planetary Institute, said: ‘Data from Mars Odyssey’s Neutron Spectrometer showed signs of hydrogen beneath the surface Mars from mid to equatorial latitudes, but we still had the challenge of working out whether this is in the form of water ice, which can readily be used as a resource, or locked away in mineral salts or in soil grains and minerals. This is where the seasonal variation provides an important clue. As the coldest ground temperatures occur at the same time as the largest observed increase in hydrogen content, it suggests that water ice is forming in the shallow subsurface of these regions during the fall and winter seasons, and then sublimating into gas during the warm season of each hemisphere.’ 

Water ice in the shallow subsurface has been found in plentiful supply at the poles. However, the frigid temperatures and the limited solar light make polar regions a hostile environment for human exploration. The areas from equatorial to mid latitudes are much more hospitable for both humans and robotic rovers, but only deeper reservoirs of water ice have been detected to date, and these are hard to reach. 

To survive on Mars, astronauts would need to rely on resources already available in-situ, as sending regular supplies across the 55 million kilometres between Earth and Mars at their closest point is not an option. As liquid water is not available in the cold and arid Martian environment, ice is a vital resource. Water will not only be essential for life-support of the explorers, or the growth of plants and food, but could also be broken down into oxygen and hydrogen for use as rocket fuel. 

Two other regions are rich in hydrogen: Tharsis Montes and the Medusae Fossae Formation. However, these do not display seasonal variations and appear to be the less accessible forms of water.  

‘Definitely, those regions too are interesting for future missions,’ added Martínez. ‘What we plan to do now for them or Hellas Planitia and Utopia Rupes, is to study their mineralogy with other instruments in the hope of spotting types of rock altered by water. Such areas would be ideal candidates for robotic missions, including sample return ones, as the ingredients for rocket fuel would be available there too.’

Image

Caption: Global map of Mars with overlaid topography indicating areas with significant seasonal variations in hydrogen content during northern spring (top) and fall (bottom). Green (red) represents increase (decrease) in hydrogen content. The areas highlighted in orange are Hellas Planitia in the southern hemisphere, and Utopia Rupes in the northern hemisphere. These are the only extended regions undergoing a significant variation throughout the Martian year.  Credit: G. Martínez.

https://www.europlanet-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Martinez.png

Further information:

EPSC2021-443: Looking for Non-Polar Shallow Subsurface Water Ice in Preparation for Future Human Exploration of Mars  

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5194/epsc2021-443

Science Contact

Germán Martínez
Lunar and Planetary Institute
gmartinez@lpi.usra.edu

Media contacts

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

Notes for Editors

About the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC)

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

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

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

About Europlanet

Since 2005, Europlanet (www.europlanet-society.org) has provided Europe’s planetary science community with a platform to exchange ideas and personnel, share research tools, data and facilities, define key science goals for the future, and engage stakeholders, policy makers and European citizens with planetary science.

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

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

EPSC2021: Exotic Mix in China’s Delivery of Moon Rocks

Exotic Mix in China’s Delivery of Moon Rocks 

On 16 December 2020 the Chang’e-5 mission, China’s first sample return mission to the Moon, successfully delivered to Earth nearly two kilograms of rocky fragments and dust from our celestial companion.  

Chang’e-5 landed on an area of the Moon not sampled by the NASA Apollo or the Soviet Luna missions nearly 50 years ago, and thus retrieved fragments of the youngest lunar rocks ever brought back for analysis in laboratories on Earth. The rocks are also different to those returned decades ago. Early-stage findings, which use geological mapping to link ‘exotic’ fragments in the collected samples to features near the landing site, have been presented by Mr Yuqi Qian, a PhD student at the China University of Geosciences, at the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2021 virtual meeting.

The Chang’e-5 landing site is located on the western edge of the nearside of the Moon in the Northern Oceanus Procellarum. This is one of the youngest geological areas of the Moon with an age of roughly two billion years. The materials scraped from the surface comprise a loose soil that results from the fragmentation and powdering of lunar rocks over billions of years due to impacts of various sizes.  

The study presented by Qian suggests that ninety percent of the materials collected by Chang’e-5 likely derive from the landing site and its immediate surroundings, which are of a type termed ‘mare basalts’. These volcanic rocks are visible to us as the darker grey areas that spilled over much of the nearside of the Moon as ancient eruptions of lava. Yet ten percent of the fragments have distinctly different, ‘exotic’ chemical compositions, and may preserve records of other parts of the lunar surface as well as hints of the types of space rocks that have impacted the Moon’s surface. 

Qian and colleagues from Brown University and the University of Münster have looked at the potential sources of beads of rapidly cooled glassy material. They have traced these glassy droplets to now extinct volcanic vents known as ‘Rima Mairan’ and ‘Rima Sharp’ located roughly 230 and 160 kilometres southeast and northeast of the Chang’e-5 landing site. These fragments could give insights into past episodes of energetic, fountain-like volcanic activity on the Moon.

The team has also looked at the potential sources of impact-related fragments. The young geological age of the rocks at the landing site narrows the search, as only craters with ages less than 2 billion years can be responsible, and these are relatively rare on the side of the Moon that faces Earth.  The team has modelled the potential contributions from specific craters to the south and southeast (Aristarchus, Kepler, and Copernicus), northwest (Harding), and northeast (Harpalus). Qian’s findings show that Harpalus is a significant contributor of many exotic fragments among Chang’e-5’s sample haul, and these pieces of rock could offer a way to address persisting uncertainty about this crater’s age. Some fragments may have been thrown into Chang’e-5 landing area from nearly 1,300 kilometres away. 

Modelling and review of work by other teams has linked other exotic pieces of rock to domes rich in silica or to highland terranes, mountains of pale rock that surround the landing site.

“All of the local and exotic materials among the returned samples of Chang’e-5 can be used to answer a number of further scientific questions,” said Qian. “In addressing these we shall deepen our understanding of the Moon’s history and help prepare for further lunar exploration.” 

Presentation

Qian, Y., Xiao, L., Head, J., van der Bogert, C., and Hiesinger, H.: The Exotic Materials at the Chang’e-5 Landing Site, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-447, https://doi.org/10.5194/epsc2021-447, 2021.

Images

Schematic diagram of the lunar lander of the Chang’e-5 mission. Credit: CNSA (China National Space Administration) / CLEP (China Lunar Exploration Program) / GRAS (Ground Research Application System).
Schematic diagram of the lunar lander of the Chang’e-5 mission. Credit: CNSA (China National Space Administration) / CLEP (China Lunar Exploration Program) / GRAS (Ground Research Application System).
Image showing the location of the Chang’e-5 landing site (43.06°N, 51.92°W) and adjacent regions of the Moon, as well as impact craters that were examined as possible sources of exotic fragments among the recently returned lunar materials. Credit: Qian et al. 2021
Image showing the location of the Chang’e-5 landing site (43.06°N, 51.92°W) and adjacent regions of the Moon, as well as impact craters that were examined as possible sources of exotic fragments among the recently returned lunar materials. Credit: Qian et al. 2021
Image zooming in on the location of the Chang’e-5 landing site while showing nearby impact craters that were examined as possible sources of exotic fragments among the recently returned lunar materials. Credit: Qian et al. 2021
Image zooming in on the location of the Chang’e-5 landing site while showing nearby impact craters that were examined as possible sources of exotic fragments among the recently returned lunar materials. Credit: Qian et al. 2021
Panoramic image taken after sampling of the lunar surface by Chang'e-5. The four dark trenches in the lower right corner of this image are where samples were collected. Abundant centimetre-sized boulders exist on the surface around the Chang'e-5 landing site. Credit: CNSA (China National Space Administration) / CLEP (China Lunar Exploration Program)  / GRAS (Ground Research Application System).
Panoramic image taken after sampling of the lunar surface by Chang’e-5. The four dark trenches in the lower right corner of this image are where samples were collected. Abundant centimetre-sized boulders exist on the surface around the Chang’e-5 landing site. Credit: CNSA (China National Space Administration) / CLEP (China Lunar Exploration Program) / GRAS (Ground Research Application System).
Image of the Chang'e-5 sample “CE5C0400” from the Moon’s surface. This fraction of lunar materials returned to Earth by Chang’e-5 weighs nearly 35 grams and was collected by a robotic arm.  Credit: CNSA (China National Space Administration) / CLEP (China Lunar Exploration Program)  / GRAS (Ground Research Application System).
Image of the Chang’e-5 sample “CE5C0400” from the Moon’s surface. This fraction of lunar materials returned to Earth by Chang’e-5 weighs nearly 35 grams and was collected by a robotic arm. Credit: CNSA (China National Space Administration) / CLEP (China Lunar Exploration Program) / GRAS (Ground Research Application System).

Video

EPSC2021 Video presentation of Yuqi Qian et al. given at the Europlanet Science Congress 2021 virtual on YouTube:

Further information

All sample information and data collected by the Chang’e-5 mission and China’s other planetary missions can be found at this website – https://moon.bao.ac.cn/web/enmanager/home. Additional images of studied samples can be obtained from this source.

Science contact

Yuqi Qian
PhD Candidate
Planetary Science Institute, School of Earth Sciences
China University of Geosciences (Wuhan)
388 Lumo Road, Hongshan Dist., Wuhan, 430074, China
yuqii.qian@gmail.com
@Yuqii.Qian

Media contacts

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

About the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 

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

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

EPSC2021 is sponsored by Space: Science & Technology (https://spj.sciencemag.org/journals/space/ ), a Science Partner Journal.

About Europlanet

Since 2005, Europlanet (www.europlanet-society.org) has provided Europe’s planetary science community with a platform to exchange ideas and personnel, share research tools, data and facilities, define key science goals for the future, and engage stakeholders, policy makers and European citizens with planetary science. 

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

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

Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement 2021 awarded to Dr James O’Donoghue

Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement 2021 awarded to Dr James O’Donoghue

The 2021 Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement has been awarded to Dr James O’Donoghue for his work in creating high-quality space science animations.

James is a planetary scientist, specialising in the study of giant planet upper atmospheres, and online content creator working at the Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). In 2018 he started creating animations around his area of expertise and publishing them online on his YouTube channel. Now, with more than 80 animated visualisations of space topics, he has reached 200 million views on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Gfycat, Reddit, and received hundreds of citations in international news articles.

James’s goal is to paint an accurate picture of the Solar System in people’s minds, highlighting its most relevant features in an intuitive way, such as the relative sizes, distances, orbits and axial tilts of the planets, or how fast a ball would fall to the surface on different Solar System objects. 

The animations are not only widely appreciated on social media: multiple educational professionals at schools, universities, planetariums, museums use his material for teaching and outreach.

Dr Federica Duras, Chair of the Europlanet Outreach Jury, said: “Among the talented and motivated science communication projects nominated this year,  James O’Donoghue’s brilliant animations stood out. In their simplicity they are a masterclass in outreach and communication, and the fact that they do not rely on language and translation means that they are perfectly inclusive, easily adaptable and usable all over the world. Congratulations to James, a great ambassador for the planetary science community.”

An awards ceremony will take place during the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2021 virtual meeting on Friday 24th September, and it will be followed by 15-minute prize lectures by the winner, who will also receive an award of 1500 Euros.

Dr Luke Moore, Research Assistant Professor at the Center for Space Physics of Boston University, said: “James, in my mind, is ideal for this award, because his outreach is global and inclusive, being predominantly online and freely accessible; he engages with people from a full range of countries and backgrounds. In addition, beyond “merely” creating useful animations, promoting science news items, and providing planetary science insights to the public, James has an excellent sense of humor that he constantly deploys. This seemingly minor point, I feel, is actually incredibly important, because it helps to demonstrate that scientists are regular people, and that science can be fun too!”

Dr Elizabeth Tasker, Associate Professor at Department of Solar System Sciences of the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), said, “James has established an international reputation for his scientific animations. These animations demonstrate different scientific concepts in space science, such as the sizes of celestial objects, the speed of light or the relative rotation rates of the planets. Each animation is designed to show a single concept visually within a few seconds. Text is minimal and nonessential, allowing the animations to be shared with a wide multilingual audience. Despite being a professional astrophysicist, I have often been amazed to realise facts about relative sizes or scales of which I was unaware before seeing James’s animations! While the animations are self-explanatory, James spends considerable time supporting the content through threads sharing further information on Twitter, and by answering questions.”

Dr James O’Donoghue said: “I am honoured and grateful to be the recipient of the Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement 2021. Like the Europlanet Society, I believe outreach is an integral part of science in society and that we have a duty to make it accessible for all the people who fund it. It has been a pleasure to engage so many interested people and teach them about the universe through animated videos, images and posts. 

“First thank you goes to my wife Jordyn for her tremendous patience and support during all my creations and posting, often late at night. I would like to thank the public for their kind words on Twitter over the years and for their many excellent thought-provoking questions, and thank you to all the educators for letting me know they used the videos for teaching at schools, universities, planetariums, museums and more!  With this recognition by the Europlanet Society I can demonstrate to my employers, current and future, that large scientific organisations highly value outreach and that the way I have been doing it has been a success. In the future, I hope to do more outreach on the side of my research and this award will help me leverage that.”

Selection of animations

Earth and Moon Size and Distance scale – with real-time light speed!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_61SxDrdyhI

Planets and dwarf planets to scale in size, rotation speed & axial tilt in distance order from Sun
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hf6WUmwJKZE

A 1 Kilometer “Ball Drop” On Solar System Bodies
https://youtu.be/oIMMZl4n-uk

The rotation periods of the planets cast to a single sphere. Rotations relative to background stars
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXPhhNEnldA

Images

James O’Donoghue in Hawaii. Credits: James O’Donoghue
James in a Japanese documentary. Credits: James O'Donoghue
James in a Japanese documentary. Credits: James O’Donoghue
James O’Donoghue at NASA. Credits: James O’Donoghue
A screenshot of James’s animation “Earth and Moon Size and Distance scale – with real-time light speed!” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_61SxDrdyhI). Credits: James O’Donoghue
A screenshot of James’s animation “Planets and dwarf planets to scale in size, rotation speed & axial tilt in distance order from Sun” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hf6WUmwJKZE). Credits:  James O'Donoghue
A screenshot of James’s animation “Planets and dwarf planets to scale in size, rotation speed & axial tilt in distance order from Sun” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hf6WUmwJKZE). Credits: James O’Donoghue
A screenshot of James’s animation “The rotation periods of the planets cast to a single sphere. Rotations relative to background stars” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXPhhNEnldA). Credits: James O'Donoghue

A screenshot of James’s animation “The rotation periods of the planets cast to a single sphere. Rotations relative to background stars” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXPhhNEnldA). Credits: James O’Donoghue

Contacts

James O’Donoghue
Institute of Space and Astronautical Science
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
jameso@ac.jaxa.jp
Web: https://jamesodonoghue.wixsite.com/home
Animations: youtube.com/user/jayphys85/videos
Twitter: @physicsJ

Media contacts

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

Notes for Editors

About the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC)

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

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

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

About Europlanet

Since 2005, Europlanet (www.europlanet-society.org) has provided Europe’s planetary science community with a platform to exchange ideas and personnel, share research tools, data and facilities, define key science goals for the future, and engage stakeholders, policy makers and European citizens with planetary science.

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

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

Cloud-spotting on a distant exoplanet

Cloud-spotting on a distant exoplanet

An international team of astronomers has not only detected clouds on the distant exoplanet WASP-127b, but also measured their altitude with unprecedented precision. A presentation by Dr Romain Allart at the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2021 shows how, by combining data from a space- and a ground-based telescope, the team has been able to reveal the upper structure of the planet’s atmosphere. This paves the way for similar studies of many other faraway worlds.

WASP-127b, located more than 525 light-years away, is a “hot Saturn” – a giant planet similar in mass to Saturn that orbits very close to its sun. The team observed the planet passing in front of its host star to detect patterns that become embedded in the starlight as it is filtered through the planet’s atmosphere and altered by the chemical constituents. By combining infrared observations from the ESA/NASA Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and visible light measurements from the ESPRESSO spectrograph at the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile, the researchers were able to probe different regions of the atmosphere. The results brought a few surprises.

‘First, as found before in this type of planet, we detected the presence of sodium, but at a much lower altitude than we were expecting. Second, there were strong water vapour signals in the infrared but none at all at visible wavelengths. This implies that water-vapour at lower levels is being screened by clouds that are opaque at visible wavelengths but transparent in the infrared,’ said Allart, of the iREx/Université de Montréal and Université de Genève, who led the study.

The combined data from the two instruments enabled the researchers to narrow down the altitude of the clouds to an atmospheric layer with a pressure ranging between 0.3 and 0.5 millibars.

‘We don’t yet know the composition of the clouds, except that they are not composed of water droplets like on Earth,’ said Allart. ‘We are also puzzled about why the sodium is found in an unexpected place on this planet. Future studies will help us understand not only more about the atmospheric structure, but about WASP-127b, which is proving to be a fascinating place.’

With a full orbit around its star occurring in about four days, WASP-127b receives 600 times more irradiation than the Earth and experiences temperatures up to 1100 degrees Celsius. This puffs the planet up to a radius 1.3 times larger than Jupiter, with just a fifth of the mass, making it one of the least dense or “fluffiest” exoplanets ever discovered.

The extended nature of fluffy exoplanets makes them easier to observe, and thus WASP-127b is an ideal candidate for researchers working on atmospheric characterisation.

The team’s observations with the ESPRESSO instrument also suggests that, unlike planets in our Solar System, WASP-127b orbits not only in the opposite direction than its star but also in a different plane than the equatorial one.

‘Such alignment is unexpected for a hot Saturn in an old stellar system and might be caused by an unknown companion,’ said Allart. ‘All these unique characteristics make WASP-127b a planet that will be very intensely studied in the future’


The Echelle SPectrograph for Rocky Exoplanets and Stable Spectroscopic Observations (ESPRESSO) is the world’s most precise spectrograph for radial velocity measurements, a method enabling to detect exoplanets.

The authors would like to acknowledge Dr Jessica Spake and her team for releasing the refined HST data used in this work.

EPSC2021-438: WASP-127b: a misaligned planet with a partly cloudy atmosphere and tenuous sodium signature seen by ESPRESSO. Romain Allart and the ESPRESSO consortium. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5194/epsc2021-438

Paper 
WASP-127b: a misaligned planet with a partly cloudy atmosphere and tenuous sodium signature seen by ESPRESSO. Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 644, id.A155, 18 pp. December 2020.

DOI: http://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/202039234

arXiv: https://arxiv.org/abs/2010.15143

Some of the elements making WASP-127b unique, with the planets of our Solar System. Credits: David Ehrenreich/Université de Genève, Romain Allart/Université de Montréal.
Some of the elements making WASP-127b unique, compared with the planets of our Solar System. Credits: David Ehrenreich/Université de Genève, Romain Allart/Université de Montréal.

Science Contact

Romain Allart
Trottier postdoctoral fellow
Université de Montréal
Institut de Recherche sur les Exoplanètes (iREx)
Canada
romain.allart@umontreal.ca

Media contacts

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

Notes for Editors

About the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC)

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

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

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

About Europlanet

Since 2005, Europlanet (www.europlanet-society.org) has provided Europe’s planetary science community with a platform to exchange ideas and personnel, share research tools, data and facilities, define key science goals for the future, and engage stakeholders, policy makers and European citizens with planetary science.

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

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

EPSC2021: Life support cooked up from lunar rocks

EPSC2021: Life support cooked up from lunar rocks

Engineers have successfully shown how water and oxygen can be extracted by cooking up lunar soil, in order to support future Moon bases. A laboratory demonstrator, developed by a consortium of the Politecnico Milano, the European Space Agency, the Italian Space Agency and the OHB Group, is presented this week at the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2021.

The set-up uses a two-step process, well known in industrial chemistry for terrestrial applications, that has been customised to work with a mineral mixture that mimics the lunar soil. Around 50% of lunar soil in all regions of the Moon is made up of silicon or iron oxides, and these in turn are around 26% oxygen. This means that a system that efficiently extracts oxygen from the soil could operate at any landing site or installation on the Moon.

In the experimental set-up, the soil simulant is vaporised in the presence of hydrogen and methane, then “washed” with hydrogen gas. Heated by a furnace to temperatures of around 1000 degrees Celsius, the minerals turn directly from a solid to a gas, missing out a molten phase, which reduces the complexity of the technology needed. Gases produced and residual methane are sent to a catalytic converter and a condenser that separates out water. Oxygen can then be extracted through electrolysis. By-products of methane and hydrogen are recycled in the system.

“Our experiments show that the rig is scalable and can operate in an almost completely self-sustained closed loop, without the need for human intervention and without getting clogged up,” said Prof Michèle Lavagna, of the Politecnico Milano, who led the experiments. 

To accurately understand the process and prepare the technology needed for a flight test, experiments have been carried out to optimise the temperature of the furnace, the length and frequency of the washing phases, the ratio of the mixtures of gases, and the mass of the soil simulant batches. Results show that yield is maximised by processing the soil simulant in small batches, at the highest temperatures possible and using long washing phases.

The solid by-product is rich in silica and metals that can undergo further processing for other resources useful for in-situ exploration of the Moon.

‘The capability of having efficient water and oxygen production facilities on site is fundamental for human exploration and to run high quality science directly on the Moon,’ said Lavagna. ‘These laboratory experiments have deepened our understanding of each step in the process. It is not the end of the story, but it’s very a good starting point.’

Presentation

Lavagna, M., Prinetto, J., Colagrossi, A., Troisi, I., Dottori, A., and lunghi, P.: Water production from lunar regolith through carbothermal reduction modelling through ground experiments, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-527, https://doi.org/10.5194/epsc2021-527, 2021.

Images and animations

Artist impression of a Moon Base concept. Credit: ESA - P. Carril
Artist impression of a Moon Base concept. Credit: ESA – P. Carril

https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2019/07/Artist_impression_of_a_Moon_Base_concept

Video showing water extracted from lunar regolith simulant, 2021. Credit: Politecnico Milano. License: CC BY-NC-ND. Credit must be given to the creator. Only noncommercial uses of the work are permitted. No derivatives or adaptations of the work are permitted.

Science Contacts

Michèle Lavagna
Politecnico di Milano
DAER
Italy
michelle.lavagna@polimi.it

Media Contacts

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

About the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 

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

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

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

About Europlanet

Since 2005, Europlanet (www.europlanet-society.org) has provided Europe’s planetary science community with a platform to exchange ideas and personnel, share research tools, data and facilities, define key science goals for the future, and engage stakeholders, policy makers and European citizens with planetary science. 

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

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

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