We just launched the Europlanet Magazine!

We just launched the Europlanet Magazine!

The official magazine of Europlanet, the European community for planetary science.

We are delighted to share with you the first issue of the Europlanet Magazine. The e-magazine will be published twice a year and aims to highlight the range of activities by Europlanet, our partners, and the wider planetary community.

This first issue has a strong focus on Mars, including European contributions to current missions, experimental research in labs and in the field, and outreach initiatives to engage the next generation. We look back at the origins of Europlanet and its links to the Cassini-Huygens mission at the beginning of this century. We also have updates on the Winchcombe meteorite and on several new partnerships to support planetary science.

Please check out Issue 1 and share with your networks to help us spread the word.

In this issue:

In Focus

round up of news from Europlanet 2024 RI, the Europlanet Society, the Regional Hubs and Committees, and the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2021.

Memories of Europlanet’s birth

Michel Blanc (IRAP), coordinator of the first Europlanet projects, looks back on the origins and evolution of Europlanet

Planetary Perspectives

Q&A with Henrik Hargitai, Editor of the Pocket Atlas of Mars 36

Europlanet Society Joins International Planetary Data Alliance

Stéphane Erard (Observatoire de Paris) reports on Europlanet’s participation in international consortia that manage access to planetary data.

Searching for Answers to Life’s Big Questions

Fernando J Gomez and Mateo Martini (CICTERRA-CONICET) introduce the new Europlanet 2024 RI planetary analogue field site in Argentina

RoadMap to Understanding Atmospheric Dust on Mars

Ann Carine Vandaele (BIRA-IASB) addresses open questions about dust and clouds in the martian atmosphere through the H2020 RoadMap project

All Eyes on Mars

A round up by the editor on European involvement in Mars missions and lab-based research on Mars exploration, including the MEDA, SuperCam and MOXIE instruments on Perseverance and spiders on Mars.

My Journey to Mars by Maria Hieta (FMI), a personal viewpoint on working on Perseverance’s MEDA instrument and ExoMars,

The Fall of the Winchcombe Meteorite

Sara Russell (NHM) describes the first UK meteorite fall recovery in thirty years and the most exciting week of her life.

Building a Community for Planetary Geological Mapping

Angelo Pio Rossi (Jacobs University) describes Europlanet’s new geological mapping activity, GMAP

Mobilising Planetary Science in Africa

Fulvio Franchi (Botswana International University of Science and Technology) introduces a new network to support planetary science in Africa.

Industry Engagement

Marcell Tessenyi (Blue Skies Space Ltd) and Jeronimo Bernard-Salas (ACRI-ST) discuss the mutual benefits for industry and academia in developing collaborations.

CommKit

The Europlanet Magazine’s column on science communication by Shorouk Elkobros (Europlanet Society/ESF).

EPEC Corner

News from the Europlanet Early Career (EPEC) Network

Melissa Mirino  (EPEC Communications Working Group) on how EPEC can support early career professionals, and the 2021 edition of the #PlanetaryScience4All video contest

3rd EPEC Annual Week
Erica Luzzi on the EPEC Annual Week, held as a virtual meeting this week

The Last Word

Nigel Mason on Europlanet: Moving Forward Together

Europlanet Launches Expert Exchange Programme

Europlanet Launches Expert Exchange Programme

A new Expert Exchange Programme, funded through Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI), has been launched to support the mobilisation of the planetary community and transfer of knowledge. The scheme aims to share expertise and best practice, and to prepare new facilities and services for integration into the RI.

The programme provides funding for short visits (up to one week). Due to travel restrictions from the Covid-19 pandemic, virtual visits are also supported through the Europlanet Expert Exchange programme.

Objectives for an Europlanet Expert Exchange might be:

  • To improve infrastructure facilities and services offered to the scientific community by Europlanet 2024 RI laboratories or institutes.
  • To provide training on theoretical or practical aspects of the laboratory/fieldwork required to plan a future TA application.
  • To foster cooperation between academia and industry (SMEs).
  • To support early career professionals to develop skills to use or manage RI facilities or services.
  • To widen participation from Under-Represented States in RI activities and services.
  • To support the inclusion of amateur communities in European planetary science campaigns.
  • To support engagement with wider society e.g. through the involvement of outreach providers, educators, journalists, artists etc.

For more details, see the Expert Exchange Call Page.

Inspiring Stories – Outreach activities in a European project like PLANMAP

Inspiring Stories – Outreach activities in a European project like PLANMAP

In this EPEC Inspiring Outreach Story, Gloria Tognon, a doctoral student at the Center of Studies and Activities for Space ‘G. Colombo’ of Padua (Italy), tells us about her experience of taking part in the European PLANMAP project.

Scientific knowledge is not just intended for a limited number of people and should be shared and made accessible to everyone. The Horizon 2020 PLANetary MAPping (PLANMAP) project is committed to the production of highly informative geological maps of Mars, Mercury, and the Moon, and every European partner dedicated part of its activities to communication and dissemination.

The main aim of PLANMAP was for several products (geological and spectral maps, 3D geomodels, and virtual environments) to be made freely available online to the scientific community as well as the general public. A particular focus was put on the promotion of planetary geology to young people through the creation of downloadable artworks, digital story maps, and a comic novel published in a special issue of the PLaNCK! Magazine about PLANMAP, “Geomapping other worlds” , which also contained interviews with young researchers working on the project.

Within the framework of outreach activities for young people in the general public, all PLANMAP partners actively organised and participated in festivals, public talks, seminars and school activities. Kids in particular were the main targets of European Researchers’ Nights, and although the events were open to the general public, I can tell you that young people from 5 to 10 years old constituted the real audience. The creation of games and video presentations as a way to engage and hold their attention while explaining difficult ideas in the easiest and funniest way was a crucial step. It may not always be easy for adults to think of ways to communicate science to young people, but for me, videos and games represent a recreational pursuit and a super rewarding experience.

Stands of planetary geology at the European Researchers’ Nights 2018 and 2019 at the University of Padua.
Credit: PLANMAP

Less imagination and more practical thinking were required in February 2021 when the PLANMAP project concluded its activities, and put its last efforts into organising the virtual ‘Geology & Planetary Mapping Winter School’, which engaged more than 50 instructors from at least 9 European institutions to address 150 registered participants from all around the world. During the school, I had the great opportunity to share my knowledge of planetary geologic mapping with the students, and to organise the final event displaying the ‘Virtual Reality environments for planetary applications and training for astronauts’. Promoted, funded and sustained by the Ambassade de France en Italie-Institut Français en Italie, Center of Studies and Activities for Space “G. Colombo” of Padua and the PLANMAP project, this event provided online lectures and a virtual reality experience simultaneously held in Padua and Nantes. Participants had an amazing chance to have a real-world perception of another planet, and take a field trip to Mars to perform scientific measurements in the field.

Interactive VR experience with geologic science measurements inside the PLANMAP environment. 
Credit: PLANMAP

I can assure you that engaging with people and sharing your knowledge with them will help you develop your communication skills and self-confidence. Above all, it is the most worthwhile life experience!

Do you like this story and want more? Browse our archive of EPEC Inspiring Stories and get inspired!

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!

Get creative with Europlanet’s #InspiredByOtherWorlds arts contest 2021

Get creative with Europlanet’s #InspiredByOtherWorlds arts contest 2021

The Europlanet Society Congress 2021 (#EPSC2021) 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 “Ingenuity”. Perhaps you are inspired by the Mars helicopter itself, the ingenuity of researchers or engineers that explore other planets, or the ingeniuty of other artists’ creative visions of other worlds. Perhaps you have ingenious ways of revealing planets, moons, asteroids, comets, meteorites, exoplanets through your art.

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. 

#InspiredByOtherWorlds entries will be showcased in a virtual exhibition and highlighted during a dedicated session during EPSC2021, which is being held as a virtual meeting from 13-24 September 2021. 

All artworks submitted will be considered by a panel of planetary scientists and artists. Categories will include youth (under 18), adult, school class submissions, and multimedia. 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 get creating! 

Rules

For all the information about the contest and how to prepare your submission, see the #InspiredByOtherWorlds FAQ page.

  • If you’d also like to share on social media please use the hashtags #InspiredByOtherWorlds #EPSC2021.
  •  The deadline is 6 September 2021.

Submit your artwork now!

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

Mars Collection of Educational Resources: 7. pH of Mars

Mars Collection of Educational Resources: 7. pH of Mars

In this lesson, we will be looking at the pH of certain environments of Mars and how this can affect its potential habitability.

Please wait while flipbook is loading. For more related info, FAQs and issues please refer to DearFlip WordPress Flipbook Plugin Help documentation.

Overview

Activity Outline: Understand how the pH of the Mars may affect the habitability of the Red Planet. 

Age Range:

10-14

Equipment Needed:

  • Computer
  • Projector

Lesson Time:

45 Minutes (including 1 video)

Topics Covered:

  • Chemistry (pH)
  • Biology (life in extremes)
  • Astronomy (Mars surface conditions)

Learning Outcomes

After completing this activity, pupils will:

  • Understand pH scales
  • Describe how factors on Mars can affect pH
  • Discuss how pH affects habitability.

Download presentation

PowerPoint (4.5 MB)

PDF (2.1 MB)

Download teachers’ resource

Word (365 KB)

PDF (272 KB)

Video experiments

Italian versions of the resources with video lessons produced by EDU INAF are now available at: Terra chiama Marte.  

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

Mars Collection of Educational Resources: 6. Evaporation and States of Matter

Mars Collection of Educational Resources: 6. Evaporation and States of Matter

In this lesson, we will be looking at the development of salt beds and the potential for their habitability.

Please wait while flipbook is loading. For more related info, FAQs and issues please refer to DearFlip WordPress Flipbook Plugin Help documentation.

Overview

Activity Outline: Understand the formation of salt pans via the mechanism of evaporation. 

Age Range:

10-14

Equipment Needed:

  • Computer
  • Projector

Lesson Time:

45 Minutes (including 1 video)

Topics Covered:

  • Chemistry
  • Biology (life in extremes)
  • Astronomy (Mars surface conditions)

Learning Outcomes

After completing this activity, pupils will:

  • Critically examine evaporation
  • Understand states of matter
  • Describe how salinity and desiccation affect the habitability of an environment.

Download presentation

PowerPoint (3.5 MB)

PDF (3 MB)

Download teachers’ resource

Word (366 KB)

PDF (266 KB)

Video experiments

Italian versions of the resources with video lessons produced by EDU INAF are now available at: Terra chiama Marte.  

Mars Collection of Educational Resources: 5. Brines on Mars

Mars Collection of Educational Resources: 5. Brines on Mars

In this lesson, we will be be delving into how saturated brine solutions affect the habitability of Mars.

Please wait while flipbook is loading. For more related info, FAQs and issues please refer to DearFlip WordPress Flipbook Plugin Help documentation.

Overview

Activity Outline: Understand super-saturated salt solutions and how they can affect the habitability of another planetary body.

Age Range:

10-14

Equipment Needed:

  • Computer
  • Projector

Lesson Time:

45 Minutes (including 1 video)

Topics Covered:

  • Geology
  • Chemistry
  • Biology (life in extremes)
  • Astronomy (Mars surface conditions)

Learning Outcomes

After completing this activity, pupils will:

  • Understand how crystallisation works.
  • Be able to explain how we get saturated and super-saturated solutions.
  • Be able to reason how saturated salt solutions affect habitability.

Download presentation

PowerPoint (3 MB)

PDF (2 MB)

Download teachers’ resource

Word (355 KB)

PDF (246 KB)

Video experiments

Italian versions of the resources with video lessons produced by EDU INAF are now available at: Terra chiama Marte.  

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.

‘Life Beyond Us’ unites scientists and science fiction authors

Life Beyond Us unites scientists and science fiction authors

Life Beyond Us, a new anthology by the European Astrobiology Institute and Laksa Media, depicts the timeless quest for finding alien life in 22 science fiction stories and 22 short science essays and has just started its Kickstarter campaign. Its goal is to publish brilliant science fiction by authors such as Mary Robinette Kowal or Peter Watts and support science understanding and critical thinking.

Science fiction has always been inspired by science and inspired scientists in turn. Its power of imagination and use of narrative, as well as its popularity, make the genre especially suited for raising interest in science. Life Beyond Us aims to achieve this with a unique approach of merging together original science fiction stories revolving around astrobiology, written by world SF authors, and engaging essays by scientists tailored to each story’s topic, answering some burning questions and leaving some open for science yet to discover and science fiction to explore. The story-essay combination blends entertainment and scientific knowledge to arouse curiosity and a deeper interest in science, carrying the reader to the boundary between science and science fiction. Effective science communication and critical thinking support are more than essential in today’s world, and projects such as Life Beyond Us seek to fulfill these complex goals and entertain at the same time.

The book is edited by editor, author and scientist Julie Nováková, who co-leads the outreach working group of the European Astrobiology Institute (EAI), and the book’s publisher Laksa Media editors Lucas K. Law and Susan Forest, who produced award-winning anthologies such as Where The Stars Rise and The Sum of Us. A stellar line-up of authors are contributing stories to Life Beyond Us: Mary Robinette Kowal, Peter Watts, Gregory Benford, Tobias S. Buckell, Premee Mohamed, Julie E. Czerneda, Stephen Baxter, Malka Older, Deji Bryce Olukotun, Geoffrey A. Landis, Bogi Takács, Simone Heller, Rich Larson, Eugen Bacon, Eric Choi, DA Xiaolin Spires, Arula Ratnakar, Tessa Fisher, Valentin Ivanov, Tomáš Petrásek, G. David Nordley and Lucie Lukačovičová.

Kickstarter campaign for the book has just started, offering backers the book in both print and e-book formats and exclusive editions, videochat sessions with authors, editors and scientists, virtual tours of labs and observatories, story critiques, naming a character after the backer and other rewards. Stretch goals to include SF stories in translation and open submissions are planned.

Life Beyond Us is the second astrobiological SF anthology by EAI, following Strangest of All, the “proof-of-concept” e-book anthology of reprint SF stories and original essays by Julie Nováková. With over 6,000 downloads, positive reception and use as a science teaching material, the book showed the merit of such outreach approach. EAI was founded in 2019 with the aims to support research in astrobiology across Europe and beyond, and promote education and outreach by organizing summer schools, supporting the AbGradE forum for students and creating unique outreach projects such as Life Beyond Us. With NASA’s Perseverance on Mars, ESA’s Rosalind Franklin planned to launch soon and other missions to shed light on life in the universe on the way, astrobiology is a booming scientific field bound to create general interest, and SF is a perfect tool to bring it closer and let people feel the curiosity and joy of discovery at the core of science and SF.

Links:

Kickstarter campaign for Life Beyond Us 

EAI website

Laksa Media website

Available for further information and interviews:

Julie Nováková (anthologist, scientist): julie.novakova@gmail.com

Lucas K. Law (anthologist, publisher): lucas.law@laksamedia.comWolf Geppert (EAI Chairman, scientist): wgeppert@fysik.su.se

Mars Collection of Educational Resources: 4. Martian Chemistry

Mars Collection of Educational Resources: 4. Martian Chemistry

In this lesson, we will be looking at the chemistry of Mars and how this can affect its potential habitability

Please wait while flipbook is loading. For more related info, FAQs and issues please refer to DearFlip WordPress Flipbook Plugin Help documentation.

Overview

Activity Outline: Understand how the chemistry of the Martian soil may affect the habitability of the Red Planet. This involves taking a closer look at how temperature and salinity can affect the chemistry of Mars.

Age Range:

10-14

Equipment Needed:

  • Computer
  • Projector

Lesson Time:

45 Minutes (including 2 videos)

Topics Covered:

  • Chemistry (Solubility, Saturation, Compound Structures)
  • Biology (Life in extremes)
  • Astronomy (Mars surface conditions)

Learning Outcomes

After completing this activity, pupils will:

  • Understand what effect temperature has on the chemistry of Mars.
  • Be able to explain how salinity affects freezing points.
  • Review how all of the above affects habitability.

Download presentation

PowerPoint (3.6 MB)

PDF (1.2 MB)

Download teachers’ resource

Word (214 KB)

PDF (254 KB)

Video experiments

Italian versions of the resources with video lessons produced by EDU INAF are now available at: Terra chiama Marte.  

Inspiring Stories – The Brilliant Club

Inspiring Stories – The Brilliant Club

In this EPEC Inspiring Outreach Story, Melissa Mirino, a PhD student at the Open University, describes engaging school students with her thesis.

My strong enthusiasm for space exploration started from a very young age, after attending planetarium shows and astronauts’ events. Since I have been largely inspired by outreach events myself, I have developed a personal interest in inspiring the younger generation to consider a career in science. I have taken up many teaching and outreach opportunities to develop activities for students of different ages and to share my passion for space with the public.

One of the most important and inspiring experiences I have taken part in so far relates to my work as a PhD tutor with The Brilliant Club. This award-winning charity that works with schools and universities across UK.  The aim of the organisation is to inspire students from under-represented backgrounds to progress to highly-selective universities. 

As a Brilliant Club Tutor, I have been creating and delivering tutorials related to modern topics in STEM, from  climate change to planetary science.

Thanks to the support of my mentors, I had the opportunity to create a custom Handbook, where I could create lessons and activities based on my personal experience (Figure 1). The Handbook is structured in sections to introduce pupils to the many aspects of the space exploration, creating  interactive and different types of activities (see images) to cover and stimulate multiple intelligence types (logical, verbal, visual, etc.). 

During my seven tutorials, students explored the various stages of space missions from the primary concept to the data collection phase. They debated the best target for a space mission, selected landing sites, interpreted data from real active missions (Figure 3-4-5), described the martian surface using 3D images (Figure 6), and much more. 

For the final assignment, NASA Mission Calling, I asked students to propose a mission to NASA, selecting a target and identifying a main research question, as well as the instruments they would need to carry out their investigation. This exercise allowed them to express their imagination, and have fun exploring and learning about the Solar System. They also gained experience of following rules of structure and references, and an important mind-set that they can apply to future challenges.

Reading their essays was inspiring and a lot of fun! You can read some excerpt from their essays below. 

Working as PhD tutor made me realise how great and smart those kids are, but how the lack of support and self-esteem could influence their performances  or could demotivate them in pursuing a career in STEM or academia. Space and human missions can be very engaging for young people and I hope that my contribution will have had a positive impact. I really hope that those kids will find their personal space, wherever it means for them.

The Brilliant Club was an amazing experience and I would recommend young professionals in UK to consider getting involved. More information can be found at: https://thebrilliantclub.org/

Excerpts from a few of the students’ essays, where they explained why their missions would benefit the human race:

[…] This mission is particularly important for the advancement of future human knowledge because if we were to find signs of extra-terrestrial life, we could use this to work out the conditions needed for it to survive. We can then move on to bigger things, like creating an environment on earth that matches these conditions and possibly grow new forms of life. […]The knowledge we acquire from possibly finding and sustaining life on Mars can improve our agriculture as we would need to develop new techniques to grow crops, using less water which is very limited on Mars. 


[…] This mission is important because it will help us determine if there is other life in our solar system, even if it is primitive bacteria.  If we do discover life in the subterranean oceans of Europa, this mission could teach us about how bacteria evolved over the millennia by comparing them to bacteria here on Earth. This mission may also inform us about whether it is possible for life to exist so far away from the Sun. […] We also might be able to learn more about cryogenic storage and how to preserve things in ice, as may have happened on this celestial body. All of this it will enhance our knowledge about other celestial bodies bigger than Europa, including another moon orbiting Jupiter called Ganymede which also has a subterranean ocean. It will also enable us to prepare for colder environments deep in space where solar panels are not as effective at producing power. This would help us plan for and prepare deep space missions. For example, if the water and ice is clean, we could rely on using planets and moons like this to resupply water and oxygen rather than having to transport large quantities from Earth, helping us conduct deep space manned missions. 


In conclusion, my proposal is to send a satellite with a lander to test for biosignatures in the ice. My target is Enceladus due to it fitting all the requirements for life as the temperature stable liquid water has inside it the energy source of hydrothermal vents, Enceladus has an atmosphere and it is less radioactive than possible moons of the Jovian system. By finding biosignatures in the sub-surface ocean of Enceladus we could further human knowledge about the conditions needed for life to form, it could prove to us the existence of extraterrestrial life and it could provide key information about how life on earth originated and adapted.


[…] I think that this mission […] could improve the future greatly because then NASA can be sure that they can populate Mars and then attempt to do it. This has the possibility to change where people live forever. If there were bacteria living on Mars, it would be incredible. If life were to be found, then NASA could study how that life form survives in such harsh conditions. To help with NASA’s future, this would be a huge potential way of making an enormous amount of discoveries, potentially leading to minerals being discovered, since everyone knows how scientists and the world of science are desperate to make such discoveries.


[…] The first reason I believe this research will be beneficial to humans and scientists is because Europa has liquid water, which is rarely, if not never, found on other planets besides Earth. This means that Europa has at least one of three main components needed for humans to thrive and survive. Europa also hosts key elements needed for humans to survive – oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen – which suggests we could somewhat find and get oxygen and water. Compared to other planets with thick atmospheres, high temperatures or gas planets, they don’t contain liquid water, although they may contain deltas or frozen lakes. This gives Europa an advantage over these planets, as they have something which planets do not have, except for Earth. Since Europa also has flowing water, scientists could study as a terrestrial analogue and try to find an area similar to the flowing river or lake underneath the surface of the moon Europa.


[…] This mission is crucial in human advancement as it will definitely deepen our understanding of Mars. […] This will help us to understand our solar system more in depth but that is for the future first we have to get to Mars. This would greatly improve the quality of our lives. Let us say we do find extra- terrestrial life this tells us life can exist outside of Earth which if one day we need to move we have a location to go. It would be a way to assure the survival of humanity in the case something bad occurs in the future to our planet who know climate change might make us have to leave our beloved Earth.

Do you like this story and want more? Browse our archive of EPEC Inspiring Stories and get inspired!

Mars Collection of Educational Resources: 3. Volcanoes Mars

Europlanet Mars Collection: 3. Volcanoes on Mars

In this lesson, we will be looking at the volcanoes of Mars and how they may have contributed to the habitability of the Red Planet over its history.

Please wait while flipbook is loading. For more related info, FAQs and issues please refer to DearFlip WordPress Flipbook Plugin Help documentation.

Overview

Activity Outline: Understand how volcanoes form, both on Earth and Mars, and how they may have affected Mars’s habitability in the past.

Age Range:

10-14

Equipment Needed:

  • Computer
  • Projector

Lesson Time:

45 Minutes (including 2 videos)

Topics Covered:

  • Geology
  • Biology (Life in extremes)
  • Astronomy (Mars surface conditions)

Learning Outcomes

After completing this activity, pupils will:

  • Understand how volcanoes form.
  • Be able to explain what convection is and why we would find it inside a volcano.
  • Determine, with reasoning, the likelihood of volcanic areas being habitable.

Download presentation

PowerPoint (7.4 MB)

PDF (1.9 MB)

Download teachers’ resource

Word (211 KB)

PDF (248 KB)

Video experiments

Italian versions of the resources with video lessons produced by EDU INAF are now available at: Terra chiama Marte.  

Mars Collection of Educational Resources: 2. A Brief History of Mars

Europlanet Mars Collection: 2. A Brief History of Mars

2. A Brief History of Mars

For this lesson, we will be looking through the history of Mars to find out if it may have ever been a suitable home for life, as we know it here on Earth. 

Please wait while flipbook is loading. For more related info, FAQs and issues please refer to DearFlip WordPress Flipbook Plugin Help documentation.

Overview

Activity Outline: Investigate how Mars has changed over its history and how that might affect the habitability of the Red Planet.

Age Range:

10-14

Equipment Needed:

  • Computer
  • Projector

Lesson Time:

45 Minutes (including 1 videos)

Topics Covered:

  • Chemistry
  • Geological time
  • Biology (Life in extremes)
  • Astronomy (Mars surface conditions)

Learning Outcomes

After completing this activity, pupils will:

  • Understand how Mars has changed over time.
  • Hypothesise how this has affected its habitability.
  • Draw a conclusion as to which era of Mars’ history was most likely to be able to support life.

Download presentation

PowerPoint (8 MB)

PDF (1.1 MB)

Download teachers’ resource

Word (365 KB)

PDF (255 KB)

Video experiments

Italian versions of the resources with video lessons produced by EDU INAF are now available at: Terra chiama Marte.  

Mars Collection of Educational Resources: Support for Educators

Mars Collection of Educational Resources: Support for Educators

To support educators in using the new Europlanet Mars Collection of teaching resource packs, we are releasing a series of short videos that introduce the collection as a whole and the individual resources.

Introduction

The video provides support for educators using the Europlanet Mars Collection of Educational Resources. The first resource pack (1. Extremophiles) gives an introduction to life found in extreme environments, exploring the kind of stresses we may find on Mars and how life can adapt to survive these.

References: ‘The Gateway Science: a Review of Astronomy in the OECD School Curricula, Including China and South Africa.’ Saeed Salimpour et al, Research in Science Education, 2020. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11165-020-09922-0

1. Extremophiles

Go to the teaching resource pack on Extremophiles.

2. A Brief History of Mars

Go to the teaching resource pack on A Brief History of Mars.

3. Volcanoes on Mars

Go to the teaching resource pack on Volcanoes on Mars.

4. Martian Chemistry

Go to the teaching resource pack on Martian Chemistry.

Videos to support the other teaching resource packs in the series will be published here weekly.

Back to the Mars Collection main page.

Introducing the Mars Collection of Educational Resources: 1. Extremophiles

Europlanet Educational Resources – The Mars Collection

Europlanet 2024 RI has produced a set of school resources exploring the possibilities of life on the Red Planet. The resources have been produced to be easily translatable in order to facilitate ease of dissemination across Europe and beyond.  The resources link areas of the curriculum with research into past and present conditions on Mars and how we can study these conditions via analogue sites here on Earth.  The project covers a range of topics, from geoscience and volcanoes, to pH and even mineral deposition viewed through an astrobiological lens.

Italian versions of the resources with video lessons produced by EDU INAF are now available at: Terra chiama Marte.  

1. Extremophiles

The first set of resources in the Mars Collection gives an introduction to life found in extreme environments, exploring the kind of stresses we may find on Mars and how life can adapt to survive these. 

Please wait while flipbook is loading. For more related info, FAQs and issues please refer to DearFlip WordPress Flipbook Plugin Help documentation.

Overview

Age Range:

10-14

Equipment Needed:

  • Computer
  • Projector

Lesson Time:

45 Minutes (including 2 videos)

Topics Covered:

  • Biology (Life in extremes)
  • Astronomy (Mars surface conditions)

Learning Outcomes

After completing this activity, pupils will:

  • Understand that cells can change to adapt to extreme environments.
  • Be able to explain the function of a cell membrane.
  • Assess how stresses on Mars might affect its habitability.

Download presentation

PowerPoint (4.8 MB)

PDF (1.3 MB)

Download teachers’ resource

Word (201 MB)

PDF (246 KB)

Video experiments

Find out more about the other resources. Italian versions of the resources with video lessons produced by EDU INAF are now available at: Terra chiama Marte.  

Press Release: A Pocket Guide to Mars

Press Release: A Pocket Guide to Mars

A pocket atlas of Mars has been published that uses geographic techniques developed for terrestrial maps to reveal a wealth of information about the surface of the Red Planet, as well as its climate and cloud cover. The atlas is being presented this week at the 52nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.

The 84-page atlas is currently available in English, Hungarian and Czech, and will be available in a digital format later this year. The atlas, which has been developed for use in astronomy clubs and schools, was funded by the Europlanet Society through its Central European Hub.

The main part of the atlas consists of a series of double spreads showing each of the 30 cartographic quadrangles into which the surface of Mars has been divided by the US Geological Survey. The landforms created by lava, wind, water, and ice are shown separately on a topographic base map, highlighting features such as dune fields, mountain peaks, volcanic calderas, caves, ancient dried-up lakes and deltas, and fault lines.

For the first time in a published Mars atlas, climate maps are included, which show 13 climatic zones with boundaries defined by combining seasonal temperature and frost data. A series of climate diagrams show the variation in temperature through the martian year for each of the zones. In addition, a weather map shows the temperature at ground level across the western hemisphere of Mars at the two annual solstices. 

The atlas also includes an albedo map, derived from data from Mars Express and Mars Global Surveyor, which shows the amount of sunlight reflected from the surface, the frequently cloudy regions and the maximum area covered by the seasonal caps of frozen carbon dioxide and water ice at the martian poles. 

The map editor, Henrik Hargitai of the Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest and former chair of the Commission on Planetary Cartography of the International Cartographic Association, said: “The maps in the atlas are manually edited, using accurate data from missions and models. Thematic maps that reveal patterns in physical geography have been used for decades for in terrestrial atlases, but this is the first time that they are available in an atlas for Mars. The publication of this edition is a culmination of mapping efforts over the last two decades. The atlas also includes a one-page calendar for Mars year 36, covering the period from February 2021 to December 2022, which explains the milestones in the seasonal changes on Mars.”

Future plans for the atlas include the addition of themed maps that show regions of interest in detail, and atlas-based activities for educators. As well as being a tool for outreach and education, this type of multi-themed map could be valuable for the scientific community in interpreting the geologic evolution of Mars, estimating whether an area might ever have hosted life, or identifying in-situ resources to support future human exploration missions.

Images

Albedo Map from the Pocket Atlas of Mars 36.
Albedo Map from the Pocket Atlas of Mars 36. Credit: NASA/JPL/ASU/ESA/H. Hargitai.
Double spread of Tharsis region of Mars (Mars Chart 09) from the Pocket Atlas of Mars 36. Credit: NASA/JPL/GSFC/ESA/DLR/FU/H. Hargitai
Double spread of thematic map of Tharsis region of Mars (Mars Chart 09) from the Pocket Atlas of Mars 36. The scale of the map is 1cm=107 km. Credit: NASA/JPL/GSFC/ESA/DLR/FU/H. Hargitai.
Double spread of thematic map of Iapygia region of Mars (Mars Chart 21) from the Pocket Atlas of Mars 36. The scale of the map is 1cm=106 km. Credit: NASA/JPL/GSFC/ESA/DLR/FU/H. Hargitai.
Weather map of western hemisphere of Mars from the Pocket Atlas of Mars 36. Credit: Forget et al/Mars Climate Database 5.3 LMD/OU/IAA/ESA/CNES/NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems/H. Hargitai.

Further Information

Henrik Hargitai will present the atlas in a live session at LPSC 2021 on 17 March 2021 at 18:00 CET.

The Pocket Atlas of Mars: A Public Outreach Project, H I Hargitai, LPSC 2021.
Iposter: https://lpsc2021.ipostersessions.com/?s=44-38-3F-AD-C3-BA-23-34-9F-D5-5E-2A-F5-C7-ED-9D
Abstract: https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2021/pdf/2109.pdf

The atlas is available at: https://www.etsy.com/listing/955444239/mars-36-pocket-atlas

Media Contact

Anita Heward
Press Officer
Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure
+44 7756034243aheward@europlanet-society.org

Notes for Editors

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

2021 Call for Funding Scheme to Support Society Committees and Membership

2021 Call for Funding Scheme to Support Society Committees and Membership

The 2021 Call for the Europlanet Society’s funding scheme to support its Committees and Membership is now open.

Applications can be submitted by any of the Society’s Regional Hubs, Committees (EPEC, Diversity) or Working Groups in support of their activities or those of the Society Membership.

The scheme is designed to support projects with funds of between €1000-5000. The proposals should further the aims of the Europlanet Society and actively involve Society members.

The scope of the funding scheme is deliberately broad to enable the community to propose diverse and innovative projects.

Members of the Society may approach their Regional Hub (or any of the other Committees or Working Groups) with suggestions for projects, which may be submitted on their behalf.

The closing date for applications is 16 April 2021.

To find out more, Members can log-in to access the applications page for the funding call.

Inspiring Stories – The Diaries of Space Explorers Podcast

Inspiring Stories – Space Explorers Podcast

In this EPEC Inspiring Outreach Story, Gavin Tolometti, a PhD student at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, describes how he is making space science accessible through podcasts.

Since I was a kid, I remember seeing rockets and rovers designed and constructed by engineers on the news, and the out of this world (excuse the pun!) space and planetary science research being conducted by NASA scientists. My interests for space research led me to look for grad school openings in planetary science. I applied to as many as I could, and eventually my applications brought me to the University of Western Ontario in Canada, where I joined the Institute for Earth and Space Exploration.

Gavin Tolometti. Credit: G. Tolometti.

As I started my PhD in Earth and Planetary Science, I became more involved in outreach and science communication. I love opportunities to chat about space and getting the chance to constantly talk about it at schools, museums, institutes, and public events has always made me happy and excited. For this reason, after meeting more and more people involved in the space exploration I decided I wanted to find a way make space science more accessible, to share the stories of why people became involved in space, and to chat about the everyday technology we use because of space exploration. 

At the beginning of 2021, I started my own podcast called “The Diaries of Space Explorers”. I have loved listening to podcasts ever since I moved to Canada in 2016, and I even joined a graduate student podcast committee in 2018. I wanted to combine the skills I developed from the committee and my love of space to create a brand-new podcast community and to bridge the gap between the public and the space sector. The goal has been to highlight the stories of students, scientists, engineers, artists, journalists, administrators, musicians, and more, about why they chose space and how it has helped shape their lives and motivate them to improve the world.

In my podcast, I also aim to bring the human side of the space sector out. I wanted the audience to connect with the guests in more than one way. Not just connect with them because of their job, but because of who the guest is as a space explorer.  One fun question I ask my guests is what is their favourite spin-off technology that came from space exploration. From this, I get to reveal some of the technologies and materials we use every day that has come from space missions or space companies. To this day I am still surprised at developments that have come as a result of a satellite launch, astronaut training, or from NASA hiring a company to help them solve a flight test problem.

I have so far published more than nine episodes, and I have many more to share with the world. The goal is to use my podcast and my research to help connect people around the globe through space science and exploration. I love podcasting. I love science communication. I love space and I love my research. Combining these passions is my way of showing the world why space is incredible and why so many smart, brilliant, and talented humans around the world strive to push the boundaries of humankind.

I hope you can all connect with my space explorer guests, and share with your friends, family, or even your neighbour about why space is amazing and how it impacts their lives.

Podcast Links

My Links

Do you like this story and want more? Browse our archive of EPEC Inspiring Stories and get inspired!

Training in Storytelling and Theatre as a Tool for Science Outreach

Training in Storytelling and Theatre as a Tool for Science Outreach

The Europlanet Society’s Committee Funding Scheme provides awards of €1000-5000 to supports projects that further the aims of the Europlanet Society and actively involve its members. In 2020, the Society supported an application by the Benelux Hub for a project called ‘Planetary Atmospheres Accessible to All’ that would enable researchers to collaborate with performers and storytellers in producing unique augmented lectures that use performing arts techniques to engage public audiences.

This online workshop, aimed at 10 selected BIRA / IASB / Europlanet researchers, has provided the practical tools to become storytellers of science with a special emphasis on addressing a general audience and/or students.

The workshop was divided into three half-day sessions (11, 14, 18 December 2020, 09:00 → 13:00 ).

The first half-day focused on defining and prioritizing the key themes which help to communicate Aeronomy to target audiences, by connecting them to societal issues. A process of collective intelligence and design thinking has been used to facilitate the emergence of key themes that can be integrated in the Augmented Lectures, if they will be produced.

Based on the outcomes, the second session has provided training in the creation of a science outreach story and its delivery (storytelling). We focused on and applied the fundamental ingredients of stories (starting from a simplified Hero’s Journey). Each participant has had the chance to prepare one short story on his/her topic of interest.

During the third half-day session, these stories have been presented to invited artists, and possible collaborations have been explored between art-science pairs to cocreate Augmented Lectures to further enhance the project.

The online workshop by Dr Andrea Brunello and Dr Pierre Echard of Jet Propulsion Theatre (JPT) was supported by the Europlanet Society Benelux Hub.

Organisers: Dr Andrea Brunello (JPT), Dr Ann Carine Vandaele (BIRA-IASB), Dr Arianna Piccialli (BIRA-IASB), Karolien Lefever (Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy), Dr Pierre Echard (JPT)