Anticipating Planetary Science with the James Webb Space Telescope
What are Jupiter and Saturn made of? Are there still open mysteries about these two giant planets? How will the James Webb Space Telescope help investigate them? Find out with Leigh Fletcher (University of Leicester, UK and member of the Europlanet Society Board) in this interview by Claudia Mignone (EDU INAF, Italy).
#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.
The official magazine of Europlanet, the European community for planetary science.
We are delighted to share with you the second issue of the Europlanet Magazine. The e-magazine is published twice a year and aims to highlight the range of activities by Europlanet, our partners, and the wider planetary community.
The second issue highlights some of the exciting science supported through Europlanet’s Transnational Access programme, including an experimental project to recreate martian flows in the lab, field campaigns in Botswana and Greenland, and virtual access to facilities in Korea. Niklas Nienass MEP shares his vision for Europe’s role in the new Space Race, and we report on the science presented and community events at the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2021 in September. As the Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) passes a major milestone, we look at some of the outcomes of the projets to date, and we have an insight into the long pathway that’s led to the recent selection of three missions to Venus. We also have features on designing meetings in pandemic and post-pandemic times, outreach initiatives, an industry database with links to planetary science, and searching for evidence of the earliest forms of life on Earth.
Please check out Issue 2 and share with your networks to help us spread the word.
In this issue:
A round up of news from Europlanet 2024 RI, the Europlanet Society, the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2021 and the planetary community.
Following the Industry-Policy Session at EPSC2021, Livia Giacomini (INAF) spoke to Niklas Nienass, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for Germany in the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, about his vision for space science in Europe.
Federica Duras and Livia Giacomini (INAF) talk to the Europlanet Prize 2021 winner, James O’Donoghue, about his motivations for creating animations to communicate challenging scientific concepts and his advice on a career in planetary science
As well as being Managing Director of the outreach company, FTP-Europlanet gUG, Dr. Lothar Kurtze has worked a scientific travel guide since 1998 for total solar eclipses viewed from the Galapagos Islands, Madagascar, Libya and Bhutan. For the upcoming total solar eclipse visible from the Antarctic, Lothar is onboard MS Hondius, acting as a guide for Oceanwide Expeditions, and is sending updates on his experiences for this Europlanet blog post. The maximum eclipse will take place at 07:33 UTC on Saturday, 4 December 2021.
We have now reached South Georgia and visited Grytviken today. As soon as we have clear nights, I will talk about the southern constellations and I will offer stargazing to the passengers – we are far away from any light pollution, and the sky is really dark, so we can hope for beautiful views.
4 December 2021
Sadly no luck. Low clouds everywhere in the path of the eclipse. However it wa very impressive for the passengers how it got suddenly dark for 1.5 min.
3 December 2021
Countdown for the eclipse, now!
We are now preparing the observation tomorrow from the ship. Due to the poor weather conditions, we can not go down to the ice edge of the Wedell sea. We aim for a position between South Orkney and South Georgia. We have to make a quite complicated compromise between cloud cover, height of the eclipse above the horizon, wind and waves.
Our position for the eclipse will be aproximately 57°S, 43° 20′ W. Clouds are coming in from the West to the center line. So we need quite a bit of luck to still see something. Fingers crossed…
1 December 2021
This afternoon, we took a cruise in a Zodiac inflatable boat at Elephant Island, a rarely visited place.
This evening we continue to explore the island with a cruise on the main ship, MS Hodius. Overnight, we will continue towards the South Orkney Islands. The weather today has low clouds, and hardly any Sun visible. So, we are keeping our fingers crossed for the weather in three days time when we will be waiting in anticipation for the eclipse.
30 November 2021
We have reached the Antarctic peninsula. The Drake passage initially had five-metre waves, which later calmed down to two metres – mostly harmless…
We saw many albatrosses, as well as whales.
Yesterday we have reached Cuverville Island in the best weather. There are thousands of Gentoo Penguins. However, being 64° 41‘ South, it will not get astronomically dark here anymore.
Onboard, there are many amateur astronomers, a professional meteorologist and a Dutch Astronaut who are, like the expedition staff, giving very interesting lectures.
We had a Covid-19 test for all passenger and staff – all negative. So, I am optimistic that the only ‘corona’, we have to worry about, is the corona of the Sun.
This is a quick report for now. We have one more days in the Antarctic before leaving towards South Orkney and our eclipse location.
Is it possible to make good scientific communication in a simple and intriguing way? The answer is yes, and Dr James O’Donoghue, winner of this year’s Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement, is proof of that.
James, ground-based infrared astronomer of Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus at JAXA, Japan, has a simple goal in mind: to paint an accurate picture of the Solar System in people’s minds, at the same time highlighting its most relevant features in an intuitive way. Its trademark are short and content-rich animations, now with more than 200 million views on his social networks and used by teachers, in outreach events, for press releases and space missions descriptions.
“I’m lucky because the Universe is a cool topic,” he says. We, on the other hand, think that his idea of making science simply using images and animations is incredible, and so we decided to find out more.
Federica Duras and Livia Giacomini interviewed James about his outreach activity, how it started and what it means for him.
–James, what is your scientific area and background? Which is your favourite planet and mission, i.e. the one you never get tired of talking about? My area of expertise is in observing the uppermost parts of the atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn. After Earth, I’d have to say my favourite planet lately is either one of the Ice Giants Uranus or Neptune! It used to be Saturn, but I changed my mind recently as these freezing cold giants have so many unknowns. That’s mostly because they’ve only ever had 1 fly-by of a spacecraft ever, in the 1980s, so you could say that I’m getting somewhat obsessed by their mysteriousness! The Cassini spacecraft is my favourite mission, it was a real tank of a spacecraft that orbited Saturn for 13 years and made countless discoveries.
–Is it easy to combine your scientific and your communicatoractivity?What does making and sharing scientific animations represent for you? I would say that my communication is mainly through the medium of animations or images, I think it’s the fastest way to get the information across and the most fun! I enjoy making animations, I feel that it’s finally a way for me to have a creative outlet, especially as I was never good at more traditional forms of art. Making these animations allows me to blend science with design and share my personal view of space with people directly. In other words, I often have some picture about how some space phenomenon works in my head, and while I could explain that to someone with words, I much prefer to show them that picture. When some of my first videos went viral, it was a bit of a psychological shock to my system as an introvert, actually, as it felt like millions of people were getting a direct line into my thoughts that I had displayed in the animation! After getting over that, however, I have since started to really enjoy that connection with people and made almost 100 new videos since then. My motivations began and continue with the feedback received from the public and educators out there who have continued to be fascinated and surprised by how the universe works, without them I might have stopped or slowed down early on.
–What is your best animation, the one you are never tired of looking at and are very proud of having made? My favourite animation is the light speed one, as it is something I have wanted to get across for a long time. Since I was a teenager I realised the vast distances in space take a long time to cross, even at light speed, and honestly it fills me with horror to think about how distant we are from even the nearest planets. It would take at least several thousand years to get to the nearest star with our fastest spacecraft, and that’s just over 4 light years away! The entire galaxy is 100,000 light years across and the nearest large galaxy is 2.5 million light years away. These distances are unthinkably vast even at light speed, and it’s been my pleasure to share this nightmare with tens of millions of people.
–Which scientific fact or idea you would like to explain and never managed to explain with an animation (yet)? I would like to explain general and special relativity, but I need time to investigate how best to teach it visually.
–You once were in NASA and now are at Jaxa, in Japan. How would you describe the life of a space scientist to a young student deciding for his/her future? The main thing I would say is that space science will keep you busy by growing dozens of different skills simultaneously. It’s not just about observing with a telescope or receiving data from a distant spacecraft, the job entails a large amount of computer programming and writing. You will not get bored at all and will never run out of things to do. You can certainly find the things you are best at and become the world’s expert in it quite quickly, since there are usually very few people working in each area. There are only 10,000s of astronomers and space scientists out there and we have an entire universe to cover. To speak frankly and honestly, it is a tough job in terms of job security because most of the time you will be operating on an approximately 3 year contract until getting a permanent job.
–Coming back to you, what are your plans and dreams for your future working life? My dream job is certainly one which combines research and outreach with a bit of teaching. Right now my outreach efforts are mostly done in my free time, and as my free time is getting smaller every year, I would like to do it as part of my job in a more serious way.
And given the results, we cross our fingers! Thanks James.
Monday 8 November, starting at 18:30 (CEST), a live online event of the EduINAF’s format “Il cielo in salotto“, to celebrate the return to our skies of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
The comet studied by the Rosetta space mission has reached the perihelion on November 2nd, and it will be at its minimum distance from Earth (just over 60 million km) on November 12th: between these two dates the comet, visible with the help of a small telescope or large binoculars, will be at its maximum brightness. The return of 67P is in conjunction with another important anniversary related to the mission: on November 12th it will be exactly 7 years since the landing of the probe Philae on the comet, the highlight of the adventurous Rosetta mission that accompanied 67P in its journey around the Sun between 2014 and 2016.
During the live event some special guests will show us images and videos of 67P collected by INAF telescopes and EduINAF readers fond of sky observations. The audience will discover some of the scientific secrets of comets and finally relive together some of the most exciting moments of the Rosetta mission. For the most enterprising, it will also be an opportunity to learn how to observe our celestial guest with a small binoculars or telescope and try to photograph it. Since a few weeks, indeed, 67P is the great protagonist of the observational campaign entitled “Cattura la Cometa!” organised by EduINAF together with the Unione Astrofili Italiani, AstronomiAmo, the Italian Association for Astronautics and Space and the Astronomical Observatory of the Autonomous Region of Valle d’Aosta and with the collaboration of Europlanet. The images collected are published on EduINAF and the most beautiful ones will be shown and commented during the live event. The appointment is on the EduINAF’s YouTube channel: go here to find all the information!
Περιγραφή Δραστηριότητας: Κατανόηση του πώς η χημεία του αρειανού εδάφους μπορεί να επηρεάσει την κατοικησιμότητα του Κόκκινου Πλανήτη. Εμπεριέχει μία πιο στενή ματιά στον τρόπο με τον οποίο η θερμοκρασία και η αλατότητα μπορούν να επηρεάσουν τη χημεία του Άρη.
45 Λεπτά (περιλαμβάνει 2 βίντεο)
Θέματα που καλύπτονται:
Χημεία (διαλυτότητα, κορεσμός, σύνθετες δομές)
Βιολογία (ζωή σε ακραίες συνθήκες)
Αστρονομία (συνθήκες στην επιφάνεια του Άρη)
Μετά την ολοκλήρωση της δραστηριότητας, οι μαθητές:
Θα καταλάβουν τι επίπτωση έχει η θερμοκρασία στη χημεία του Άρη.
Θα μπορούν να εξηγήσουν πώς η αλατότητα επηρεάζει τα σημεία τήξης.
Θα κατανοήσουν πώς τα παραπάνω επηρεάζουν την κατοικησιμότητα.
Описание: Изучить, как химический состав марсианской почвы может повлиять на обитаемость Красной планеты. Это предполагает более пристальное рассмотрение того, как температура и соленость могут повлиять на химию Марса.
45 минут (включая 2 видео)
Химия (растворимость, насыщение, составные структуры)
Биология (жизнь в крайностях)
Астрономия (состояние поверхности Марса)
По итогам изучения материала ученики смогут:
Понимать, какое влияние температура оказывает на химический состав Марса.
Уметь объяснить, как соленость влияет на температуру замерзания.
Знать, как все вышеперечисленное влияет на обитаемость.