Anny-Chantal Levasseur-Regourd, 1945-2022

Anny-Chantal Levasseur-Regourd, 1945-2022

We are deeply saddened to hear that the astrophysicist and valued member of our community, Anny-Chantal Levasseur-Regourd, has passed away.  

Anny-Chantal Levasseur-Regourd pursued her research career at the Service d’Aéronomie (LATMOS institute since 2009) and her teaching as an assistant professor to Jacques Blamont at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris VI). She was appointed professor of astronomy and space physics in 1985 and became professor emeritus in 2013.

After her studies at the Ecole Normale Supérieure of Cachan, she defended her PhD in Physical Sciences in 1976 under the supervision of Jacques Blamont. She analysed the atmospheric and astronomical observations made by the D2A satellite with a contribution to the study of the zodiacal light. In 1977, she applied to the ESA astronaut selection campaign and was the only woman selected amongst the final participants.

After her PhD, she collaborated with René Dumont on studies of the interplanetary medium and zodiacal light. These observations gave the first global map in intensity and polarisation of the zodiacal light and provided constraints on the local physical properties of the interplanetary dust particles.

Anny-Chantal participated in the international campaign of Halley’s comet return in 1986 both with observations from the ground and as the Principal Investigator (PI) of the OPE experiment on-board the European Giotto spacecraft, which observed the linear polarisation in the inner coma of Halley. Results showed the presence of low-density solid particles and light scattering mostly by large particles. Her work helped define a classification of comets based on their polarization phase curves, a result still discussed in the astronomical community today. She also studied the internal regions of cometary coma by polarimetric imaging.

She continued her work on the study of light scattering by irregular particles by developing facilities in the laboratory and in microgravity (such as PROGRA2, CODAG and ICAPS-LSU) to study simultaneously the intensity and polarization phase curves of aggregating particles under microgravity. A reduced version of the ICAPS experiment will soon fly on-board a TEXUS rocket.

Anny-Chantal Levasseur-Regourd speaking at the forum “The year viewed by… sciences” organised by France Culture on 14 February 2015. Credit: Pamputt/CC BY-SA 4.0

Anny-Chantal’s participation in the Rosetta mission was focused on determining the physical properties of the cometary nucleus and the ejected dust particles. These particles were demonstrated to present fractal structures down to nanometer scales with a composition dominated by organic material. Anny-Chantal was also the PI of the EyeSat student nanosatellite launched by the CNES in 2019. Finally, she actively participated in the development of the EnVisS camera, a multiwavelength polarimetric imager of the ESA Comet Interceptor spacecraft due to be launched in 2029 and dedicated to observing a fresh or interstellar comet.

In summary, Anny-Chantal combined in her work ground-based and space-based observations together with laboratory and numerical simulations to better understand the physical properties of solid dust particles ejected from comets. The object of her studies were mostly linked to the small bodies of the Solar System, comets and asteroids with their similarities and differences, the solid particles they eject, and the interplanetary dust medium that results from their interactions.

She supervised seven PhD students. A dedicated teacher, she never hesitated to motivate her students to give their best, and helped advance their growth as researchers. She pushed forward their work at international conferences and also encouraged them to present their own work. She was particularly enthusiastic about supporting the recognition and advancement of her female colleagues.

Outside of her advising work, she developed numerous national and international collaborations in all the domains of study of the solar system small bodies and light scattering by solid particles which lead to 179 refereed papers (241 conference abstracts).

Anny-Chantal loved to share her passion and she participated in the writing of public outreach books on astronomy (5 books) and to television lectures (for example on canal-U). She delivered numerous public outreach conferences and animations of the astronomical community. She was most notably the President of the French Committee for the organization of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. The asteroid 6170 is named Levasseur in her honor. In recognition of her scientific work, she was appointed Officier de la Légion d’honneur in 2013 and was awarded the following prizes: prix Thorlet de l’Académie des sciences (1976), prix Glaxo de vulgarisation scientifique (1982), prix des Dames de la Société Astronomique de France (1986).

She will be dearly missed by the whole scientific community in France and worldwide.

Maria Teresa Capria, 1954-2022

Maria Teresa Capria
Maria Teresa Capria

Maria Teresa Capria, 1954-2022

We are deeply saddened to learn that Maria Teresa Capria passed away on Friday 15 April after a 5-year long illness.

Maria Teresa Capria was one of the founders of Europlanet, leading the Integrated and Distributed Information Service (IDIS) in the original European Planetology Network (EuroPlaNet) project from 2005-2008 and the first Europlanet Research Infrastructure (RI) from 2009-2012, and participating in the Virtual European Solar and Planetary Access (VESPA) service in the Europlanet 2020 RI project from 2015-2019. She chaired the local organising committee for the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) in Rome in 2010.



Obituary

(Translated and abridged from the original version in Italian on the INAF website.)

Maria Teresa Capria passed away on Friday 15 April after a 5-year long illness that she faced with the dignity, determination and tenacity that characterised her as a person and a scientist.

She began her scientific career in the early 1980s as a young graduate in computer science at the Institute of Space Astrophysics, a node in the Italian National Research Council (CNR) computing network that served all research institutes in southern Italy. 

This was followed by some years in Oberpfaffenhofen at DLR, the German Aerospace Centre, working with Gerhard Neukum, one of the pioneers of planetary science in Germany. Here, Teresa received her introduction to image analysis, applying state-of- the-art remote sensing software to planetary data. This experience strengthened her collaboration with the IAS Planetology group, working on the small bodies of the Solar System that would later become the core of her scientific activity. 

At the beginning of the 1990s, under the guidance of Angioletta Coradini, the IAS Planetology group began to participate in space missions. Teresa offered to take on the responsibility of data archiving, starting with the VIRTIS instrument on board the European Space Agency’s Rosetta probe. 

Teresa also worked on high-resolution spectroscopy of comets. In the early 2000s she collaborated with Japanese colleagues, who hosted her for a few months at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan in Tokyo. 

The experience Teresa gained within the Rosetta mission paved the way for a new collaboration with Padua Observatory, working on the stereo cameras of the SIMBIO-SYS instrument suite on the BepiColombo mission to Mercury. 

Teresa’s scientific preparation, perseverance, serenity, clear vision and fair-minded judgments made her a highly valued member of committees and working groups. Among her many roles, she was a member of the INAF Scientific Council from 2016 to 2020, a member of the AstRoMap team (Astrobiology and Planetary Exploration Road Mapping) an FP7 project of the European Commission, and was the Italian manager of Europlanet in successive EU-funded projects. She played a leading role in the management structure of the Cospar (COmmittee for SPAce Research) as Chair of the Scientific Commission B: Space Studies of the Earth-Moon System, Planets, and Small Bodies of the Solar System. Finally, she was the driving force behind the Italian Society of Planetary Sciences, formed a few months ago, of which she was the President.

Teresa was a welcoming and reassuring figure for young researchers, generous with suggestions and advice, always willing to collaborate, never unkind, and passionate about her work. These aspects of her teaching will live on. We will miss her.

Teresa was a very cooperative colleague who made her knowledge available to others. We have worked for years on the development of a numerical code for the thermophysical evolution of comets, a particularly complex code in which your experience was essential. She has always found solutions to the various problems that gradually emerged and, thanks to her, this code has been enriched and has become a reference point for the community that studies comets. I learned a lot from her, not only regarding the solution of complex equations, but above all not to be the owner of her own knowledge but to share it with others.

Maria Cristina De Sanctis
The launch of the Europlanet Research Infrastructure (RI) , 3 March 2009, CNRS, Paris.
Maria Teresa Capria (second left, second row from front) at the launch of the Europlanet Research Infrastructure (RI) , 3 March 2009, CNRS, Paris.

Calls for Europlanet Outreach Funding Scheme and Prize 2022

Calls for Europlanet Outreach Funding Scheme and Prize 2022

Are you looking for funding to kickstart an outreach or education project related to planetary science? Or have you run a successful public engagement project for which you deserve some recognition?

The Calls are now open for applications for the Europlanet Outreach Funding Scheme 2022 and nominations for the Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement 2022.

**Deadline for submissions is 15 June 2022**

About the Europlanet Outreach Funding Scheme 2022

Europlanet awards grants of between 1 000 and 5 000 Euros to fund projects to engage the public with planetary science. Through the funding scheme, Europlanet aims to encourage new ways of sharing planetary science with different kinds of audiences across Europe (and beyond) to create socially impactful initiatives that combine research, learning, innovation and social development.

Find out more at: https://www.europlanet-society.org/outreach/funding-scheme/europlanet-public-engagement-funding-scheme-2022-application-form/

About the Europlanet Prize For Public Engagement 2022

The Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement recognises achievements in engaging citizens with planetary science. The Prize of 1 500 Euros is awarded annually to individuals or groups who have developed innovative and socially impactful practices in planetary science communication and education.

The winner will be honoured at the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022 in Granada will be invited to share experiences and best practice by delivering an Awards Ceremony.

Find out more at: https://www.europlanet-society.org/prize/europlanet-prize-for-public-engagement-2022-application-form/

Farinella Prize 2022 – deadline extended

Extended deadline for 12th ‘Paolo Farinella’ Prize, 2022

The DEADLINE for nominations for this year’s Farinella Prize is extended to May 15th 2022.

The 12th Paolo Farinella Prize will be awarded to a young scientist with outstanding contributions in the field of planetary science concerning ‘Asteroids: Physics, Dynamics, Modelling and Observations‘, including theoretical, modelling, experimental and observational work on asteroids. The award winner will be honoured during the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022 in Granada (Spain).

For the 12th ‘Paolo Farinella’ Prize the terms and rules are as follows:

  1. A competition is announced to award the ‘Paolo Farinella’ Prize for the year 2022. The Prize consists of a plate, a certificate and the amount of 1500 €. The winner is expected to give a Prize lecture during EPSC2022.
  2. The winner will be selected on the basis of their overall research results in the field of ‘Asteroids: Physics, Dynamics, Modelling and Observations‘. 
  3. Nominations must be sent by email not later than May 1st to the following addresses: michelp@oa.eu, acb@ua.es and david.lucchesi@inaf.it, using the downloadable form.
  4. The nominations for the ‘Paolo Farinella’ Prize can be made by any researcher that works in the field of planetary sciences following the indications in the attached form. Self-nominations are acceptable. The candidates should have international and interdisciplinary collaborations and should be not older than the age of Paolo when he passed away, 47 years, as of 1 May 2022. 
  5. The winner of the Prize will be selected before 20 June 2022 by the ‘Paolo Farinella’ Prize Committee composed of outstanding scientists in planetary sciences, with specific experience in the field. 
  6. The Prize Committee will consider all the nominations, but it will be entitled to autonomously consider other candidates.

To honour the memory and the outstanding figure of Paolo Farinella (1953-2000), an extraordinary scientist and person, a Prize has been established in recognition of significant contributions in the fields of interest of Paolo, which spanned from planetary sciences to space geodesy, fundamental physics, science popularisation, security in space, weapon control and disarmament.

The Prize has been proposed during the ‘International Workshop on Paolo Farinella, the scientist and the man‘, held in Pisa in 2010.

Previous recipients of the ‘Paolo Farinella Prize’ were:

‘Paolo Farinella’ Prize homepage.

Call for Farinella Prize 2022

Call for 12th ‘Paolo Farinella’ Prize, 2022

To honour the memory and the outstanding figure of Paolo Farinella (1953-2000), an extraordinary scientist and person, a Prize has been established in recognition of significant contributions in the fields of interest of Paolo, which spanned from planetary sciences to space geodesy, fundamental physics, science popularisation, security in space, weapon control and disarmament.

The Prize has been proposed during the ‘International Workshop on Paolo Farinella, the scientist and the man‘, held in Pisa in 2010.

Previous recipients of the ‘Paolo Farinella Prize’ were:

The 12th Paolo Farinella Prize will be awarded to a young scientist with outstanding contributions in the field of planetary science concerning ‘Asteroids: Physics, Dynamics, Modelling and Observations‘, including theoretical, modelling, experimental and observational work on asteroids. The award winner will be honoured during the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022 in Granada (Spain).

For the 12th ‘Paolo Farinella’ Prize the terms and rules are as follows:

  1. A competition is announced to award the ‘Paolo Farinella’ Prize for the year 2022. The Prize consists of a plate, a certificate and the amount of 1500 €. The winner is expected to give a Prize lecture during EPSC2022.
  2. The winner will be selected on the basis of their overall research results in the field of ‘Asteroids: Physics, Dynamics, Modelling and Observations‘. 
  3. Nominations must be sent by email not later than May 1st to the following addresses: michelp@oa.eu, acb@ua.es and david.lucchesi@inaf.it, using the downloadable form.
  4. The nominations for the ‘Paolo Farinella’ Prize can be made by any researcher that works in the field of planetary sciences following the indications in the attached form. Self-nominations are acceptable. The candidates should have international and interdisciplinary collaborations and should be not older than the age of Paolo when he passed away, 47 years, as of 1 May 2022. 
  5. The winner of the Prize will be selected before 20 June 2022 by the ‘Paolo Farinella’ Prize Committee composed of outstanding scientists in planetary sciences, with specific experience in the field. 
  6. The Prize Committee will consider all the nominations, but it will be entitled to autonomously consider other candidates.

‘Paolo Farinella’ Prize homepage.

Károly Szegő, 1943-2022

Károly Szegő at a Europlanet Dinner Debate in the European Parliament in 2011.
Károly Szegő at a Europlanet Dinner Debate in the European Parliament in 2011.

Károly Szegő, 1943-2022

We are deeply saddened to hear that Károly Szegő DSc, Scientific Advisor and  Professor Emeritus of the Wigner Research Centre, died unexpectedly on 22 January 2022, at the age of 78.

Károly was one of the founders of Europlanet, leading the Personnel Exchange Activity in the original European Planetology Network (EuroPlaNet) project funded by the European Commmission from 2005-2008, the Deputy Coordinator of the Networking Activities in the first Europlanet Research Infrastructure (RI) from 2009-2012, and was the Inclusiveness Officer and Deputy Lead of the Science and Innovation Networking Activity in the Europlanet 2020 RI project from 2015-2019.

Prof Nigel Mason said: ‘We will all remember him as staunch supporter of Europlanet as well as for his outstanding science.’





Obituary

By Péter Lévai, Director General of Wigner Research Centre for Physics
(Original version on Wigner website)

Károly Szegő began his career as a theoretical particle physicist investigating the applications of group theory methods. His interest turned towards space physics in the early 1980s, he made important contributions to the understanding of the interaction between the solar wind and solar system bodies, including several planets and comets.

He was a co-lead in the VEGA Space Mission (1986), a Soviet led international effort launched to investigate comet Halley up close. In the course of this research, the first ever picture of an active cometary nucleus was taken, the size and rotation of the nucleus were determined, and a model of the surface activity of the comet was established. Four of his scientific publications published in the period 1980-87 are among the 7 most cited publications of the field of “Solar System Research” worldwide. His achievements were recognized with the State Prize of Hungary in 1986.

Later he was a guest researcher on NASA’s Pioneer-Venus Orbiter mission, and as a co-investigator he participated in the plasma physics experiments of the Phobos-2 mission launched in 1988 to study planet Mars and its environment. He achieved significant results in the study of Venus. He was a co-investigator in the plasma physics experiments of the Cassini mission launched by NASA to study planet Saturn. He also participated as a co-investigator in the plasma experiments of the ESA Rosetta comet chaser mission which performed the first ever soft landing on a cometary nucleus in 2014 and investigated the surface and environment of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. In recent years he participated in the SERENA plasma experiment of the ESA BepiColombo mission, which has been sent to investigate planet Mercury.

Károly Szegő was the first director of the KFKI Research Institute for Particle and Nuclear Physics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (the predecessor of Wigner RCP) from its establishment in 1975 until 2002. Between 2002 and 2012 he organized and supported the work of the Hungarian academic research network as the head of the Department of Research Institutes of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He was an internationally recognized scientist and scientific organizer and a major presence in the Hungarian space research community, educating and mentoring many students and postdocs, always approachable and always helping colleagues.

Rest in peace, Károly, we keep your memory alive.

We will all remember him as staunch supporter of Europlanet as well as for his outstanding science.

Prof Nigel Mason
The launch of the Europlanet Research Infrastructure (RI) , 3 March 2009, CNRS, Paris.
Károly Szegő (end of top row, right) at the launch of the Europlanet Research Infrastructure (RI) , 3 March 2009, CNRS, Paris.