Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement 2023 awarded to Daniela de Paulis and El Mehdi Essaidi

Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement 2023 awarded to Daniela de Paulis and El Mehdi Essaidi

Europlanet Press Release

The 2023 Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement has been awarded jointly to the artist, Daniela de Paulis, for her interdisciplinary programmes to bring space and planetary science to international audiences, and the science communicator, El Mehdi Essaidi, for his community-centric work in southern Morocco to share the wonders of our Solar System and the Universe.

Federica Duras, chair of the Europlanet Outreach Jury, said: “It is a great source of honour for Europlanet to recognise the achievements of these two inspiring professionals with such different projects, resources, outcomes. Above all, it shows us that bringing people closer to planetary science, and more generally to the wonder of the Universe, can be done in many ways, and it’s great to see how it’s being done in different parts of the world.”

Daniela de Paulis is an interdisciplinary artist, whose installations and performances have a strong public engagement component. She has collaborated with astronomers and space scientists for many years and is currently a SETI  Institute Artist-in-Residence (SETI AIR). Her latest project, “A Sign in Space”, invited people around the world to help decode a simulated message from an alien civilisation. The message was transmitted from Mars orbit on 24 May 2023 by the European Space Agency (ESA) mission, ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, and was received by three radio telescopes on Earth. The project reached people in 174 countries and over 85,000 people have viewed a livestream of the event. Almost 5,000 people registered on the online platform Discord, where the message was extracted from the raw signal data within less than 10 days; however the process is ongoing as people on Discord are now trying to decode and interpret the message. The design of the project required coordination with ESA, the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF), the US-based Green Bank Observatory and the SETI Institute, as well as teams of radio astronomers, planetary scientists, engineers, communicators, artists, poets, philosophers, anthropologists and computer scientists, collaborating over different time zones for more than two years.

Claudia Mignone of INAF, who proposed Daniela de Paulis for the prize said: “The visionary idea of Daniela de Paulis brought together a wide audience from over a hundred countries, who have been sharing their thoughts and discussing themes related to space exploration and the quest for life in the Universe, but also what it means to be human at this particular time in history and what we are capable to do when we harness our collective knowledge.”

El Mehdi Essaidi, from the Asif n Ait Bounouh Association for Culture and Awareness in Ait Bounouh / Tafraoute, works to empower students and enhance science literacy in isolated and underserved communities in southern regions of Morocco. Through programmes that are tailored to the specific cultural contexts and local dialects, including astronomy workshops, hands-on experiments, story-telling, stargazing events, mentorship opportunities and observational research projects, El Mehdi Essaidi has motivated young individuals to pursue their dreams in the field of astronomy. By engaging both children and adults, he aims to create a ripple effect that spreads scientific curiosity throughout the community, and provide a relatable role model who shares their language and cultural background. With his latest project, “Asif Stars”, he has enabled communities in Morocco to conduct observational research using the Las Cumbres Observatory telescope network. 

Dr Youssef Oukhallou, President of the Youth Policy Center in Morocco, said: “El Mehdi Essaidi’s contributions to education and public engagement, particularly in the field of astronomy, have had a transformative impact on the lives of numerous individuals and communities, particularly in rural and marginalised areas.”

The winners are invited to give prize lectures at the Europlanet Science Congress 2024 in Berlin from 8-13 September 2024.


Daniela de Paulis, winner of the Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement 2023
Daniela de Paulis, winner of the Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement 2023. Credit: Bas Czerwinski. Download full resolution version
Daniela de Paulis at the Green Bank Observatory. Credit: Paul Vosteen/Green Bank Observatory

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Decoded Image: The message/binary code as extracted from the raw data received by the radio telescopes for “A Sign in Space” on 24 May 2023 in the form of an image. This is now being used by people trying to decode and interpret the message. Credit: A Sign in Space.

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“The Family Portrait” (2015) which was moonbounced as part of Daniela De Paulis’s project OPTICKS, using the Visual Moonbounce technology that the artist helped to develop. Credit: NASA/Charles Duke.

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"Still artfilm", a still image from Daniela de Paulis’s project "Mare Incognito" (2022).
“Still artfilm”, a still image from Daniela de Paulis’s project “Mare Incognito” (2022). Credit: Mirjam Somers/Bas Czerwinski, copyright: Daniela de Paulis.

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El Mehdi Essaidi, winner of the Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement 2023.
El Mehdi Essaidi, winner of the Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement 2023. Credit: Asif Astronomy Club.

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El Mehdi Essaidi leading an observing session. Credit: Asif Astronomy Club.

El Mehdi Essaidi leading an observing session. Credit: Asif Astronomy Club.

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El Mehdi Essaidi leading an observing session. Credit: Asif Astronomy Club.

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El Mehdi Essaidi leading a Robotic Telescope Workshop. Credit: Asif Astronomy Club.

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Daniela de Paulis
Rotterdam, Netherlands
X (formerly Twitter): @danieladepaulis

El Mehdi Essaidi
Asif n Ait Bounouh Association for Culture and Awareness
Casablanca, Morocco

Federica Duras
Chair, Europlanet Outreach Jury


Anita Heward
Europlanet Press Officer
+44 7756 034243


About Europlanet

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

The Europlanet 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).

1st Europlanet Latin America Planetary Science Workshop

1st Europlanet Latin America Planetary Science Workshop: Connecting Earth with Other Planets

The next event in the Europlanet Workshop Series will be the 1st Europlanet Latin America Planetary Science Workshop, which will take place from 31 October-03 November 2023 at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The workshop will be held in the hybrid mode.

Who is for?

Post-graduated students, researchers, early career and professionals interested in planetary science, planetary surface and astrobiology.


The programme for the workshop can be found here.


The workshop is free of charge but places are limited!


Registration opens on 01/08/2023 and closes on 27/09/2023. It is compulsory and must be accompanied by a letter of interest and a brief curriculum vitae (max 1 page). You will receive via email confirmation of your acceptance. Participation in the workshop includes all coffee and lunch breaks.

Number of participants

35 people will be admitted in-person and up to 100 online.


English or Spanish


Attendees (both in-person and online) will be issued, on request, with a certificate of attendance. The materials of topics presented at the 1st Latin America Planetary Science Workshop – Connecting Earth with other Planets will be available.

More about the Europlanet Workshop Series

More about Europlanet Global Collaboration and Integration Development

Rocks from Space and Planetary Defence Workshop in Morocco

Rocks from Space and Planetary Defence Workshop in Morocco

Rocks from Space and Planetary Defence, the third in a Europlanet Series of workshops is taking place this week from 25-28 April 2023 at the Hôtel Club Val d’Anfa in Casablanca, Morocco, and online.

25 students have been taking part on site and a further 33 students have followed the workshop virtually.

Morocco Workshop

A full report will follow in the coming weeks.

Report on Europlanet Workshop ‘Applications of Earth Observation Satellite Data’

Report on Europlanet Workshop ‘Applications of Earth Observation Satellite Data’

This article is a translation of the original article by UNIBO Magazine in Italian, reposted with kind permission.

The second Europlanet 2024 RI Workshop, “Applications of Earth Observation Satellite Data”, coordinated by the University of Bologna and Italian Cultural Institute (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation) was held in Addis Ababa at the Italian Cultural Institute (IIC) in Ethiopia. The event was sponsored by the Italian Space Agency and the National Institute of Astrophysics.

Space is now an objective of strategic importance for African countries. Africa looks to space as a valuable tool for the support, competitiveness and growth of the continent. Africa’s Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063 set out its future objectives to transform it into a strong, resilient and influential actor and partner on the global scene, and to have the right to a share of global common goods: land, oceans and space.

Now, the Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure project and its Global Collaboration and Integration Development programme coordinated by Prof. Barbara Cavalazzi of the University of Bologna, aim to address the challenge of creating a network for planetary sciences in Africa at a national and international, favoring intra-African relations.

Recently, 38 participants from all over Ethiopia attended an international workshop in person. The attendees were professionals, researchers and PhD students from the Universities of Addis Ababa, Mezan Tepi, Semera, Wollo, Wolkite, Oda Bultum, but also from the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute, the Space Science and Geospatial Institute, the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, the Ethiopian Forest Development, the Ethiopian Roads Administration, all linked by common interests such as Earth observation, use of satellite images and related applications.

Barbara Cavalazzi explains: “The format I chose for this event was to provide high-quality content, examples of applications, and practical workshops for using the software, with kind support from high-profile instructors (Gabriele Bitelli and Francesca Trevisiol, University of Bologna, Patrizia Sacco, Italian Space Agency, Addisu Gezahegn, Addis Ababa University and Gemechu Fanta Garuma, Space Science and Geospatial Institute). In parallel, times for discussion and sessions were organised for the exchange of ideas on research in the field of Earth observation. Interaction between the participants themselves was encouraged, laying the foundations for the formation of a local community of specialists on the subject. And I can say that we have achieved the goal”.

“We are happy to welcome so many participants to this workshop from all over Ethiopia, in conjunction with the National Space Day celebrations,” says Dr. Semen Kumurzhi, Director of the Italian Cultural Institute. “The initiatives promoted are part of the strategy to relaunch our cultural and integrated programme in this country and represent an important moment of dialogue, in particular with a young generation of local scientists and researchers. These activities will help to raise the profile of our country in Ethiopia in a modern and innovative way. It is an excellent example of collaboration between the University of Bologna and the other national organistions (Embassy of Italy, ASI, INAF), whom I sincerely thank. We hope that the results of these projects lead to medium to long-term partnerships, so that we can support the development of space and planetary science in Ethiopia and Africa for years to come.”

“Earth observation through satellite images represents a fundamental tool for the monitoring and management of the territory. The educational programme of the workshop included theoretical lessons supported by practical sessions with open-source software, providing students with the tools to use remote sensing images to support their own research or professional activity. Possible applications, which emerged as priorities from the participants, included the monitoring of agriculture in the context of food security, the prevention of natural disasters, the monitoring of surface water and drought, together with the other environmental problems that climate change is making increasingly evident,” explain Gabriele Bitelli and Francesca Trevisiol at the end of the workshop.

The workshop, which ended on 16 December, coincided with the second National Space Day, during which the “LOOKING BEYOND/Guardare Oltre” satellite image exhibition (curated by F. Maggia) set up at the IIC was inaugurated. The programme was enriched by a series of workshops “Let’s light up the constellations” held by Dr. Federico Di Giacomo of INAF-Astronomical Observatory of Padua, and organized in collaboration with Dr Maura Sandri of INAF and Prof Barbara Cavalazzi, which involved nearly 200 students from the Galileo Galilei Italian school in Addis Ababa.

University of Bologna participation was by Barbara Cavalazzi, Professor in the Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, who coordinated the workshop, and Gabriele Bitelli and Francesca Trevisiol, Professor and doctoral student in the Geomatics group of the Department of Civil, Chemical, Environmental and Materials Engineering, who participated in the initiative. The event was organised with the support of Europlanet 2024 RI, which received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program (Grant No 871149).

Europlanet Workshop Series Comes to Ethiopia

Europlanet Workshop Series Comes to Ethiopia

The week started with 65 school students from 3 classes attending a hands-on laboratory workshop called ‘Light up the constellation’, led by INAF (the Italian Institute for Astrophysics).

The workshop on ‘Applications of Earth Observation Satellite Data’, held from 13-16 December 2022, has brought together 38 space technology specialists, scientists and students to discuss current topics in this rapidly developing field. The workshop was the second in a series organised under the umbrella of the Global Collaboration and Integration Development program of Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) that aims to support the creation of an African network in planetary science. 

The attendees comprised 24 participants from Addis Ababa, as well as 12 from wider Ethiopia, including from Semera, Wollo and Willowy Universities.

Find out more about the workshop and the series.

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