EPSC2021: From walls and railings of our cities to…space: the story of Xanthoria parietina

EPSC2021: From walls and railings of our cities to…space: the story of Xanthoria parietina

One of the main topics in astrobiology is the study of life limits in stressful environments -very high temperatures, inhuman pressures, deadly radiations- in order to shed light on the possibility of life in space or in extra-terrestrial habitats such as Mars. You might think it’s difficult to find life forms suitable for these studies, but instead in some cases they are very common; so common as to grow on walls and railings of our cities. 

This is precisely the case of Xanthoria parietina, a yellow-orange leafy lichen selected by the research group of Dr John Robert Brucato, Senior Research Scientist at INAF, the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics, for their study presented at EPSC2021.

The Xanthoria parietina is so common in our cities because it is particularly tolerant to air pollutants as nitrogen oxides and heavy metals” says John, “but we chose it for its ability to produce a particular substance, the parietin, which allows it to protect itself from UV rays”.

In the study, presented at EPSC by Christian Lorenz, a Master’s Student in Environmental Biology at the University of Florence, John and his team tested the lichen under simulated UV space radiations in two different extreme and dehydrating environments, i.e. in nitrogen atmosphere and in vacuum, and demonstrated that it was able to survive. 

The innovative aspect of our study is the spectroscopic analysis we used.” says Christian. “This analysis allowed us to obtain for the first time the spectrum of this lichen species, which we monitored during the exposure, allowing us to appreciate the real time changes in it.

Is this silent inhabitant of our cities ready to colonise space? John thinks it’s too early to tell: “As the next step of our study, we will directly assess the presence of damages in the lichen through electron microscope analyses and expose it to other extreme conditions. Then, it would be really exciting to expose it in real space conditions, for example on the ISS!”.

For more information about the work, you can have a look at Christian’s presentation, Survival of Xanthoria parietina in simulated space conditions: spectroscopic analysis and vitality assessment during the EPSC2021 session TP5 on Friday 17 September. 

Dancing around Venus

Dancing around Venus

A close flyby of the planet Venus between 9 and 10 August, led to an (almost) meeting of the Euro-Japanese BepiColombo and the Euro-American Solar Orbiter (SOLO) spacecrafts. Venus isn’t the final destination of either mission but the approach to the planet made it possible to collect valuable data for future studies.

The almost-contemporary flyby at Venus of Solar Orbiter is a great opportunity to have more data and an additional point of view of the Venus environment. We’ll take advantage of it!” says Valeria Mangano, coordinator of the ESA working group on Venus flybys of the BepiColombo mission. 

SOLO will use Venus’s gravity multiple times to get closer to the Sun and to change direction to get a good look at the Sun’s poles (a first for a spacecraft), while BepiColombo needs gravitational help from Earth, Venus and Mercury itself to reach its destination.  BepiColombo, named after the Paduan mathematician, physicist, astronomer and engineer Giuseppe Colombo, is the result of the collaboration between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) with European leadership. The aim of the mission is to unveil the deepest secrets of Mercury, the planet closest to the Sun and one of the least explored in the Solar System. Four out of the sixteen instruments and experiments on board BepiColombo were built by Italian industry and the Mercury Planetary Orbiter carries onboard the Italian instruments ISA, SERENA and SIMBIO-SYS, and the MORE radio-science experiment.

ESA’s SOLO spacecraft encountered Venus at an altitude of 7995 km 33 hours earlier than BepiColombo and on the opposite face of the planet. Its main mission is to observe the surface of the Sun and study the changes that occur in the solar wind that is emitted at high speed by our star. Among its ten instruments, SOLO carries Metis, the innovative coronagraph born through an international collaboration led by the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) and supported by the Italian Space Agency (ASI), involving several universities in Italy and research institutes in the world. 

Approaching Venus has allowed the two spacecraft to make several science investigations of the planet’s atmosphere and its induced magnetosphere and ionosphere. During its flyby, the Solar Orbiter Heliospheric Imager (SoloHI) was able to capture a view of the planet Venus’s nightside, which appeared as a dark semicircle surrounded by a gleaming, bright crescent of light. The day after and a few minutes after BepiColombo’s closest approach of 552km, the Mercury Transfer Module’s Monitoring Camera 2 took this beautiful black-and-white snapshot with the high-gain antenna and part of the body of the spacecraft visible in front of Venus.

Beautiful view of Venus on 10 August 2021 as bepiColombo passed the planet for a gravity assist manoeuvre.

The Venus Flybys Working group (VFBWG, here the relative ESA webpage), Valeria tells us, aims to promote discussion on Venus science as related to the BepiColombo passages nearby the planet, and also by taking advantage of some of the complementary observations from Earth-based telescopes and by amateur astronomers. Europlanet 2024 RI is actively involved in this, by supporting and encouraging the amateur observations through a campaign coordinated by Ricardo Hueso and Itziar Garate-Lopez from UPV/EHU in Spain. You can find some of the images collected after the first BepiColombo Venus flyby last October on the Planetary Virtual Observatory and Laboratory (PVOL) website. The working group also supports coordination of Venus observations by BepiColombo and other spacecraft. JAXA’s Akatsuki spacecraft, for instance, is now in orbit around Venus and joint observations of the plasma environment surrounding the atmosphere of Venus will enable, again, new insights concerning the planet that were not previously achievable.

Apparently the data for the public will be coming through and continuously being uploaded to the ESA’s dedicated webpage but it will take some time.

Now that the flyby at Venus has passed, we are all working hard at the data analysis, interacting among the teams to gain the most comprehensive view of what we measured. This is at the same time the most stressful and exciting moment of the flyby, when you realise if all the efforts we did of planning the ‘best possible measurements’ really worked and will bring us results or not,” Valeria Mangano continues.

Even more exciting is that all the data collected during the flybys will provide useful inputs to ESA’s future Venus orbiter, EnVision, which is scheduled to launch to Venus in the 2030s.

It seems that the heavens will continue to give us great, emotional highlights in the years to come and we can do nothing but wait, anxiously, for the next planetary dance. The next appointment is for the night of 1-2 October, when BepiColombo will finally see its long dreamed-of destination, making its first of six flybys of the planet Mercury.

Inspiring Stories – #PlanetaryScience4All: A Video Contest for Virtual Science Communication

Inspiring Stories – #PlanetaryScience4All: A Video Contest for Virtual Science Communication

In this EPEC Inspiring Outreach Story, Melissa Mirino (doctoral candidate at The Open University and of the Chair EPEC Communications Working Group) shares how the extraordinary experiences of 2020 inspired her to launch a contest to bring together the early career community. This story is an extract from the first Issue of the Europlanet magazine.

The year 2020 will be always remembered as a year of isolation, disruption of the normal daily activities, and in extreme cases a year of loss. However, during this period we all did our best to find alternative solutions to carry on with our lives, jobs and activities and remain positive and connected with each other using the current available technologies. Research and academia have not been an exception. Both the Europlanet Society and the Europlanet Early Career Network (EPEC) did their best to remain active, and to guarantee the usual sharing of ideas and scientific results by transforming the EPSC 2020 Conference into a virtual meeting. 

As Chair of the EPEC Communications Working Group, I wanted to create an activity that could combine the EPEC goal of supporting early careers, our working group’s aim of communication, and the need to transform face-to-face activities into a shareable, interactive and online form to support the EPSC2020 virtual meeting. The idea of a video contest came to mind. This format is already considered by many universities as a good way to train and challenge students in science communication. Since the main subject of EPSC is planetary science, the topic of the video contest was easy to identify. With support from the EPSC2020 Outreach and Europlanet Communications teams, and many months of planning, creating and sharing the new activity, the #PlanetaryScience4All video contest became a reality. #PlanetaryScience4All challenges early career students to present their research in four minutes to a non-expert audience. 

The first edition (2020) of the contest was open to Ph.D. candidates involved in planetary science studies, asking them to explain their Ph.D. research using any type of creative video format (Lego movies, drawing, PowerPoint, storytelling, etc.). The videos were judged based on criteria of scientific content, communication skills, and creativity by a panel of experts from the Europlanet Community. All the contestants and their videos were featured in live sessions during EPSC2020, promoted on YouTube, and shared widely on social media. The winning video was highlighted through the Europlanet website and newsletters, and it has also been used for EPEC outreach activities. The winner of the 2020 edition, Grace Richards, received free registration to this year’s EPSC2021 meeting. Recently, Grace and Gloria Tognon, another contestant, have also joined the EPEC Communications Working Group to support our activities. Based on the success of the 2020 competition, I feel confident that #PlanetaryScience4All will become a traditional part of EPSC. 

The second edition is now open, this year welcoming Bachelor’s and Master’s students, as well as PhD candidates working on a thesis related to planetary science.

For more information FAQs, flyers, and the submission form visit: https://www.europlanet-society.org/early-careers-network/epec-communications-group/planetaryscience4all-video-contest/

Videos from the 2020 #PlanetaryScience4All contest can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/ playlist?list=PLPXeplhp1d00fmFd9vYXirNt_gyZrKOPA. The first Europlanet Magazine issue is available at: https://www.europlanet-society.org/europlanet-magazine/issue-1/?fbclid=IwAR38hwgnbbP6Y3Vn6RdQZNOZ_OPQhsFQuuvEGY5VhP4vUnebRRH_u9IJniQ#dearflip-df_16450/42/

Oldest fossils of methane-cycling microbes expand frontiers of habitability on early Earth

Oldest fossils of methane-cycling microbes expand frontiers of habitability on early Earth 

EUROPLANET/UNIVERSITY OF BOLOGNA PRESS RELEASE

A team of international researchers, led by the University of Bologna, has discovered the fossilised remains of methane-cycling microbes that lived in a hydrothermal system beneath the sea floor 3.42 billion years ago. 

The microfossils are the oldest evidence for this type of life and expand the frontiers of potentially habitable environments on the early Earth, as well as other planets such as Mars. 

The study, published today in the journal Science Advances, analysed microfossil specimens in two thin layers within a rock collected from the Barberton Greenstone Belt in South Africa. This region, near the border with Eswatini and Mozambique, contains some of the oldest and best-preserved sedimentary rocks found on our planet. 

The microfossils have a carbon-rich outer sheath and a chemically and structurally distinct core, consistent with a cell wall or membrane around intracellular or cytoplasmic matter.

Prof Barbara Cavalazzi, the lead author of the study, said: “We found exceptionally well-preserved evidence of fossilised microbes that appear to have flourished along the walls of cavities created by warm water from hydrothermal systems a few meters below the sea floor. Sub-surface habitats, heated by volcanic activity, are likely to have hosted some of Earth’s earliest microbial ecosystems and this is the oldest example that we have found to date.”

The interaction of cooler sea-water with warmer subsurface hydrothermal fluids would have created a rich chemical soup, with variations in conditions leading to multiple potential micro-habitats. The clusters of filaments were found at the tips of pointed hollows in the walls of the cavity, whereas the individual filaments were spread across the cavity floor.

Chemical analysis shows that the filaments include most of the major elements needed for life. The concentrations of nickel in organic compounds provide further evidence of primordial metabolisms and are consistent with nickel-content found in modern microbes, known as Archaea prokaryotes, that live in the absence of oxygen and use methane for their metabolism.

“Although we know that Archaea prokaryotes can be fossilised, we have extremely limited direct examples. Our findings could extend the record of Archaea fossils for the first time into the era when life first emerged on Earth,” said Prof Cavalazzi. 

She added: “As we also find similar environments on Mars, the study also has implications for astrobiology and the chances of finding life beyond Earth.”

‘‘Cellular remains in a ~3.42 billion-year-old subseafloor hydrothermal environment’, B. Cavalazzi (Università di Bologna, Italy/ University of Johannesburg, South Africa), L. Lemelle (LGL-TPE, ENS de Lyon, Université de Lyon, CNRS, France), A. Simionovici (ISTerre, University of Grenoble-Alpes, CNRS, France), S.L. Cady (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, USA), M.J. Russell (Università degli Studi di Torino, Italy), E. Bailo (WITec GmbH, Germany), R. Canteri (Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Italy), E. Enrico (Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca Metrologica, Italy), A. Manceau (ISTerre, University of Grenoble-Alpes, CNRS, France), A. Maris (Università di Bologna, Italy), M. Salomé (European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, France), E. Thomassot (Université  de Lorraine, CNRS, CRPG, France), N. Bouden (Université  de Lorraine, CNRS, CRPG, France), R. Tucoulou (European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, France), A. Hofmann (University of Johannesburg, South Africa), Science Advances, 2021. https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/7/29/eabf3963.

The research was carried out with the support of Europlanet 2024 RI, which received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme (Grant No 871149).

Images

1) Image of the locality of the study area in the Barberton Greenstone Belt in South Africa. Credit: A. Hofmann.
1) Image of the locality of the study area in the Barberton Greenstone Belt in South Africa. Credit: A. Hofmann.

https://www.europlanet-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Barberton-Greenstone-Belt-South-Africa-Credit-A-Hofmann-scaled.jpg

2) Image of the outcrop from which the rock sample was taken in the Barberton Greenstone Belt in South Africa. Credit: Cavalazzi et al.
2) Image of the outcrop from which the rock sample was taken in the Barberton Greenstone Belt in South Africa. Credit: Cavalazzi et al.

https://www.europlanet-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Outcrop-in-the-Barberton-Greenstone-Belt-South-Africa-Credit-Cavalazzi-et-al.tif

3) Optical microscope image of the filamentous microfossils. Credit: B. Cavalazzi.
3) Optical microscope image of the filamentous microfossils. Credit: B. Cavalazzi.

https://www.europlanet-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Microfossil-filaments-Credit-B-Cavalazzi.tif

4) Raman spectra image of filamentous microfossils in boxed area in Image 3. The turquoise and blue show the carbonaceous matter associated with the filaments. Credit: Cavalazzi et al.

https://www.europlanet-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Raman-spectra-image-filamentous-microfossils-Credit-B-Cavalazzi-et-al.tif

Science Contact

Barbara Cavalazzi
University of Bologna
barbara.cavalazzi@unibo.it

Media Contacts

Matteo Benni
Ufficio Stampa
Università di Bologna
+39 051 20 99327
+39 338 7866108
matteo.benni@unibo.it

Anita Heward
Press Officer
Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure
aheward@europlanet-society.org
+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 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 project builds on a €2 million Framework 6 Coordination Action (EuroPlaNet), a €6 million Framework 7 Research Infrastructure (Europlanet RI) and a €10 million Horizon 2020 Research Infrastructure (Europlanet 2020 RI) funded by the European Commission. 

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 Society’s aims are:

  • To expand and support a diverse and inclusive planetary community across Europe through the activities of its 10 Regional Hubs
  • To build the profile of the sector through outreach, education and policy activities
  • To underpin the key role Europe plays in planetary science through developing links at a national and international level. 

Europlanet 2024 RI project website: www.europlanet-2024-ri.eu

Europlanet Society website: www.europlanet-society.org   

Follow on Twitter via @europlanetmedia

About University of Bologna

The University of Bologna has very ancient origins: founded in 1088 it is considered the first University of the Western World. It counts over 87,000 students, 232 degree programs, 84 of which are international, distributed over 5 Campus: Bologna, Cesena, Forlì, Ravenna and Rimini.

It has 32 Departments, 48 PhD courses, 53 Postgraduate Schools, 86 first and second level Masters and an average of 11,000 research products per year. The University of Bologna is among the first universities in Europe for the number of students participating in exchange programs, both outgoing and incoming.

EPSC2021: aperte le domande per richiedere il rimborso della quota di partecipazione

Entro il 23 Luglio 2021 è possibile applicare per richiedere il rimborso della quota di iscrizione al congresso EPSC2021 (nel caso di registrazione anticipata), nonché della quota per l’Abstract Processing Fee.

Possono richiedere il rimborso:
-professionisti a inizio carriera (entro 7 anni dall’ultima laurea)
-studenti di dottorato
-astronomi amatoriali
-divulgatori
-educatori
-ricercatori da Paesi sotto-rappresentati

E’ necessario che i candidati abbiano un abstract accettato per per la conferenza (per presentazione orale o poster).

Per applicare è sufficiente compilare il form online. I candidati prescelti riceveranno comunicazione nella settimana del 26 luglio, per consentire loro di registrarsi prima della scadenza della quota di registrazione anticipata del 3 agosto.

Worskshop virtuale “Ricerca & Sviluppi Tecnologici per In-Situ Resources Utilization”

L’Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI) chiama la comunità scientifica e industriale nazionale a presentare, in un evento interamente virtuale, lo stato dell’arte delle proprie attività di ricerca e sviluppo di tecnologie per lo sfruttamento delle risorse in situ (ISRU) su Luna, Marte ed asteroidi. L’appuntamento è per il 6 Ottobre 2021 al workshop “Ricerca & Sviluppi Tecnologici per In-Situ Resources Utilization”.

La partecipazione è libera, ma è necessario registrarsi entro il 10 settembre 2021 attraverso il modulo online.

Le proposte e gli interventi possono riguardare uno dei seguenti argomenti:

Acquisizione, preparazione, classificazione delle risorse

• Tecnologie per la produzione di consumabili (es. acqua, ossigeno, propellenti)

• Tecnologie per la produzione di risorse per manufacturing

• Generazione e storage di potenza in-situ

• Estrazione e storage materiale per sample return mission

• Facility per testing e validazione a terra di tecnologie

Ulteriori informazioni sul workshop nella brochure di presentazione.

Call for a PostDoc Research Fellowship on EXOMARS/Ma_MISS, DAWN, ROSETTA/VIRTIS

The INAF-Institute for Space Astrophysics and Planetology (Rome, Italy) is seeking applicants for one “Postdoctoral Research Fellowship” in the context of the research project “Modelling of surfaces of solid bodies of the Solar System and comparison with data from space probes and terrestrial analogues in the laboratory”.

Deadline30 June 2021.

The grant is based on the project “EXOMARS Ma_MISS”, “DAWN” and “Rosetta/VIRTIS” and will be carried out under the scientific supervision of dr. Maria Cristina De Sanctis and dr. Fabrizio Capaccioni.

The expected start date is September 2021, with a duration of 12 months and the potential of renewal.

The successful candidate is expected to work on the surface and subsurface modelling; data analysis from space instrumentation (VIR instruments on DAWN, Ma_Miss on ExoMars 2022, VIRTIS on Rosetta) and laboratory data analysis (analogous materials and meteorites).

More information with the complete description of the position and the documents to fill out here.

Il Cielo in salotto: superLuna!

Wednesday 26 May, starting at 21:30, the largest and most spectacular full moon of the year will be the main character of the first episode of the new EduINAF’s format “Il cielo in salotto“.
Meaning “the sky in your living room”, it aims at bringing science and astronomy closer to the public with live astronomical observations. For this specific occasion, the supermoon will be observed, weather permitting, by the astronomers of some INAF Observatories scattered throughout Italy, (Trieste, Asiago, Rome and Palermo). To comment on the beauties of the sky, Sandro Bardelli, from Bologna, will be our guide on this journey on the Moon, between astronomical curiosities and the latest scientific missions and discoveries, accompanied by guests such as Maria Cristina De Sanctis and Francesca Altieri, researchers at the INAF IAPS in Rome, the geologist Matteo Massironi of the University of Padua, Caterina Boccato, in charge of the INAF Teaching and Outreach, Simone Iovenitti, PhD student at INAF and University of Milan and together with many other partners and guests who will help us to look at the Moon with new eyes.

Special guest of the evening is Samantha Cristoforetti, who will tell us, in a video, her point of view on the Moon and its exploration, and who will receive as a gift the collective portrait of the asteroid 15006 Samcristoforetti made as a tribute to our astronaut in the recent astrophotography challenge, organised by EduINAF in collaboration with the community of italian amateurs.

The appointment is on the EduINAF’s YouTube channel: go here to find all the information!

Happy SuperLuna!

From Italy to Mars through Rio Tinto

From Italy to Mars through Rio Tinto

The second call for applications for the Europlanet 2024 RI Transnational Access (TA) programme returned a positive response to the Ma_Miss (Mars Multispectral Imager for Subsurface Studies) team for a geological and spectroscopic field analysis campaign at the Rio Tinto site in Spain.
The main objective of the project is to collect spectral data and samples useful for testing the ExoMars2022/Ma_MISS spectrometer. Ma_MISS is the miniaturized visible and near-infrared (VIS-NIR) spectrometer, integrated into the drilling system of the ESA ExoMars/2022 Rosalind Franklin rover, dedicated to the Martian subsurface exploration.
The Rio Tinto represents an example of how life can adapt to extreme environments: this may give us clues as to what kind of life may have once developed on Mars” says Marco Ferrari from the INAF/IAPS in Rome, “and scientific results from previous work with other drilling equipment and scientific instruments show that the Rio Tinto site has ideal mineralogical/biological characteristics to test the Ma_MISS spectrometer also in the context of Oxia Planum, the selected landing site of the ExoMars/2022 mission“.

During the field campaign, the team plans to perform a series of VIS-NIR measurements collecting a representative sample of each mineral that will be subsequently measured with the breadboard Ma_MISS at the INAF/IAPS laboratory. All the efforts focused on any spectral signature related to the presence of biomarkers in the collected data with the aim of understanding whether the Ma_MISS instrument can be of any help in detecting traces of life in the Martian subsurface, which is one of the main scientific objectives of the ExoMars/2022 mission.

The findings of this study will be published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at major planetary science-related international congresses, as well as during scientific public outreach events.

We can’t wait to find out more!


90th SGI Conference

90th SGI Conference

WHEN: 14-16 September 2021
WHERE: Virtual
DEADLINE: 28 May 2021

Geology Without Borders“: this is the theme of the 90th edition of the Italian Geological Society’s Conference, which will take place virtually on 14-16 September 2021. The conference wants to be a wish for an exchange of knowledge among researchers, not only Italian, to promote and strengthen the Earth Sciences, which should be considered not only as a necessary tool for the best understanding of the interior of planet Earth but also as a defense of the society from dangerous geological events, for the understanding of climate variations, the planning and use of geo-resources in an ethical way and with the respect and preservation of the environment.
The event will be of great interest for the whole international planetary community, which is invited to participate by registering here and submitting an abstract before 28 May 2021 – 7:00 p.m. CET. A list of the fees is reported in detail on the related page. Two different planetary sessions are indeed planned, both held in English, with two international keynote speakers, one per session:
P26. The cosmic challenge: from interplanetary dust to the bricks of life
Conveners: Lidia Pittarello, Cristian Carli
P27. The contribution of geology to the knowledge of Solar System bodies
Conveners: Valentina Galluzzi, Alice Lucchetti

During the conference the awards ceremony of the competition “On the rocks” will be held. This competition asks students, PhD students, researchers, professionals and geology enthusiasts of any age to describe their research or new ideas on Earth in a creative and absolutely informal way, by producing short films of any kind. More information on the competition, which will close on 25 July 2021, on the dedicated page.

A conference and a competition through which to have fun and learn at the same time: what more could you ask for?

Join our SuperLuna! Observing Challenge

Join our SuperLuna! Observing Challenge

Share your pictures and you could win a prize

Spring 2021 is a season of ‘supermoons’, with the Full Moon in April and May coinciding within 10% of the closest lunar orbital distance to Earth. These luminous supermoons, which are about 7% bigger and about 15% brighter than a typical Full Moon, provide a remarkable opportunity for engaging the public.

We thought it would be fun to gather images, or artwork, of the Moon in its different phases between the April Supermoon and the May one.  Making these observations is a great way to see how the Moon changes during the month: look for how the Moon rises and sets later each night, and how the illumination and so shape we see changes too.

The supermoon on 26th May will be the closest Full Moon of the year. Facilities from the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) are joining forces to carry out a live event on EduINAF’s social channels. 

During the Italian streaming, aired on the 26th on EduINAF’s main social channels from 9.30pm to 11pm (CET), there will be an opportunity to learn much more about the Moon.  INAF astronomers will guide the audience through the live observations of the moon seen by the various observatories involved with images and insights from guests.

You have the chance for your images to be shown during this broadcast too – as images from our SuperLuna! Observing Challenging will be included in the live broadcast.  We will also be putting a gallery on our website.  This is not a competition, we would just like as many people to participate as possible, so we will make a random selection from the entries to receive an ESA goody bag.  

Join the SuperLuna Campaign!

If you are up for the challenge, upload your pictures to this Flickr group and post them on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #SuperLuna    If you do not use Flickr, you may submit your pictures via the form below.

SuperLuna!

Resources for observing the Moon

We have put together some resources to help you observe, photograph and find out more about the Moon. Read more.


If you have an image or animation that is too big to upload, you can send it by WeTransfer to aheward@europlanet-society.org.

See all the images on the Flickr Group.

Banner image © Valeriano Antonini – EduINAF – Associazione AstronomiAmo

Supermoons rising

Supermoons rising

Spring 2021 is a season of ‘supermoons’, with the Full Moon in April and May coinciding within 10% of the closest lunar orbital distance to Earth. These luminous supermoons, which are about 7% bigger and about 15% brighter than a typical Full Moon, provide a remarkable opportunity for engaging the public.

The supermoon on 26th May will be the closest Full Moon of the year. Facilities from the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) are joining forces to carry out a live event on EduINAF’s social channels. Amateur observers and observatories from the Europlanet Telescope Network are invited to join to make the event even more interesting and to be able to observe the moon from different European skies.

During the Italian streaming, aired on the 26th on EduINAF’s main social channels from 9.30pm to 11pm (CET), INAF astronomers will guide the audience through the live observations of the moon seen by the various observatories involved with images and insights from guests.

Join the SuperLuna Campaign!

If you want to collaborate with the Italian Hub before or during the event please click here and contact us.

Resources for observing the Moon

We have put together a list of resources to help you observe, photograph and find out more about the Moon. Read more.

Future plans

We hope to hold follow up events for the public during EPSC2021 in September and during International Observe the Moon Night 2021 on 16th October.

An Asteroid For Samantha

Are you an amateur astronomer, a professional or a simple sky enthusiast? Get involved with An Asteroid for Samantha, the astro-photography campaign dedicated to the return to orbit, in 2022, of Samantha Cristoforetti.

Edu INAF, in collaboration with the Italian Association for Astronautics and Space, the Astronomical Observatory of the Autonomous Region of Valle d’Aosta and with the support of the Italian Amateur Astronomers Union, invites you to hunt 15006 Samcristoforetti, the main belt asteroid dedicated to Samantha, take a picture and share it with the Edu INAF editorial team. Your image, along with the others that will arrive, will be given as a gift to Samantha to accompany her on her journey to the International Space Station!

Use the hashtags of the event #UnAsteroidePerSamantha #Samcristoforetti #AnAsteroidForSamantha.

More information here.

Call for a PostDoc Research Fellowship on the analysis of Mars Oxia Planum @INAF-IAPS (Rome)

The INAF-Institute for Space Astrophysics and Planetology (Rome, Italy) is seeking applicants for onePostdoctoral Research Fellowship” in the context of the research project “Analysis of Oxia Planum from remote sensing data and terrestrial laboratory analogs of Mars and Ceres”.

Deadline: 22 January 2021.

The grant is based on the project “EXOMARS Ma_MISS” and “DAWN” and will be carried out under the scientific supervision of dr. Maria Cristina De Sanctis and dr. Francesca Altieri.

The expected start date is April 2021, with a duration of 12 months and the potential of renewal for further two years.

The successful candidate is expected to work on the data analysis of the Oxia Planum site and on laboratory activities for the preparation and characterization of analogs of Ceres and Mars.

More information with the complete description of the position and the documents to fill out here.


The great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn: the Italian eye

A few days ago, on December 21st, the entire world has raised its eyes to the sky to admire the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, popularly and somewhat erroneously known as the “Christmas Star”. For this particular occasion, which will not occur until the year 2080, in Italy, some headquarters from the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) have joined forces and carried out live, on EduINAF‘s Facebook and YouTube channels, the event “Jupiter and Saturn: the meeting of the giants”.

What made last Monday a remarkable astronomical event was indeed the positions of these two planets: although being aligned in the sky about once every 20 years, it’s been nearly 400 years since Jupiter and Saturn passed this close to each other in the sky, and nearly 800 years since this alignment occurred at night, allowing nearly everyone around the world to see this “great conjunction”. The previous one was on July 16, 1623. However, on that occurrence the two planets were too close to the Sun to be easily observed. We must go back to the late Middle Ages, precisely to March 4, 1226, to find a celestial event of similar magnitude, potentially visible in the terrestrial skies.

During the italian streaming, aired on the 21st on EduINAF’s main social channels from 5pm to 7 pm, astronomers from the INAF guided the audience (of over 10000 people) through the live observations of the planetary conjunction seen by the various italian observatories involved (Roma, Trieste and Palermo) also showing images collected in the previous days both from Italy and other telescopes in the world. The experience was made even more interesting by the insights the astronomers gave about the most recent discoveries in the field of planetary physics and the relevance of this celestial event, exceptionally occurred on the day of the winter solstice.

An image taken from the Rapid Eye Mount Telescope (La Silla Observatory-Chile), used during the italian streaming to show the “Great Conjunction” event of Jupiter and Saturn in the sky on Dec. 21st.

If you missed it and you want to discover more and more about this fascinating encounter of giants, you can look to this gallery of images and watch the recording of the streaming (available in italian) here.