Updated: EPSC-DPS 2019 press briefings

Thursday 19th September, 12:15-13:15 CEST (10:15-11:15 UTC / 06:15-07:15 EDT)
Akatsuki mission results, 2020 Coordinated Venus Observations and science at Venus

  • Masato Nakamura (ISAS/JAXA) – Akatsuki mission update
  • Takeshi Horinouchi (Hokkaido University) – Cloud-top wind observations by Akatsuki
  • Takeshi Imamura (University of Tokyo) – Infrared observations at Venusian cloud tops
  • Yeon Joo Lee (Technical University of Berlin) – 2020 Coordinated Venus Observation Campaign
  • Valeria Mangano (INAF-IAPS) – Venus flybys of BepiColombo for the 2020 Coordinated Venus Observation Campaign
  • Michael Way (NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies) – Possible habitability of ancient Venus and Venus-like exoplanets

Wednesday 18th September, 12:15-13:15 CEST (10:15-11:15 UTC / 06:15-07:15 EDT)
Future mission updates

  • Patrick Michel (Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, CNRS) – Asteroid Impact Deflection Assessment (AIDA) science update
  • Nancy Chabot (Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab) – NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission
  • Michael Küppers (European Space Astronomy Centre (ESA/ESAC) – Hera mission
  • Colin Wilson (University of Oxford) – EnVision mission to Venus
  • Kelly Geelen (European Space Agency) – Mars Sample Return plans and current status

Tuesday 17th September, 12:15-13:15 CEST (10:15-11:15 UTC / 06:15-07:15 EDT)
Hayabusa2 & Lucy missions

  • Antonella Barucci (Observatoire de Paris) – Spectral variation on the surface of Ryugu
  • Makoto Yshikawa (ISAS/JAXA) – Hayabusa2 mission results: the impact experiment and the second touchdown
  • Franck Marchis (SETI Institute) – Occultation of Lucy mission target, Orus

Monday 16th September, 12:15-13:15 CEST (10:15-11:15 UTC / 06:15-07:15 EDT)
Cheops mission update

  • Michel Mayor (University of Geneva) – Exoplanets in context
  • Kate Isaak (European Space Agency) – Cheops mission status
  • Willy Benz (University of Bern) – Cheops – An exoplanet follow-up mission
  • Ravit Helled (University of Zurich) – Cheops contribution to open questions in (exo)planetary science
  • David Ehrenreich (University of Geneva) – Cheops in the context of other exoplanet missions

Comet’s collapsing cliffs and bouncing boulders

Comet’s collapsing cliffs and bouncing boulders 

Scientists analysing the treasure trove of images taken by ESA’s Rosetta mission have turned up more evidence for curious bouncing boulders and dramatic cliff collapses.

Rosetta operated at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko between August 2014 and September 2016, collecting data on the comet’s dust, gas and plasma environment, its surface characteristics and its interior structure.

As part of the analysis of some 76 000 high-resolution images captured with its OSIRIS camera, scientists have been looking for surface changes. In particular, they are interested in comparing the period of the comet’s closest approach to the Sun – known as perihelion – with that after this most active phase, to better understand the processes that drive surface evolution.

Loose debris is seen all over the comet, but sometimes boulders have been caught in the act of being ejected into space, or rolling across the surface. A new example of a bouncing boulder was recently identified in the smooth neck region that connects the comet’s two lobes, an area that underwent a lot of noticeable large-scale surface changes over the course of the mission. There, boulder about 10 m-wide has apparently fallen from the nearby cliff, and bounced several times across the surface without breaking, leaving ‘footprints’ in the loosely consolidated surface material.

“We think it fell from the nearby 50 m-high cliff, and is the largest fragment in this landslide, with a mass of about 230 tonnes,” said Jean-Baptiste Vincent of the DLR Institute for Planetary Research, who presented the results at the EPSC-DPS conference in Geneva today.

“So much happened on this comet between May and December 2015 when it was most active, but unfortunately because of this activity we had to keep Rosetta at a safe distance. As such we don’t have a close enough view to see illuminated surfaces with enough resolution to exactly pinpoint the ‘before’ location of the boulder.”

Studying boulder movements like these in different parts of the comet helps determine the mechanical properties of both the falling material, and the surface terrain on which it lands. The comet’s material is in general very weak compared with the ice and rocks we are familiar with on Earth: boulders on Comet 67P/C-G are around one hundred times weaker than freshly packed snow.

Another type of change has also been witnessed in several locations around the comet: the collapse of cliff faces along lines of weakness, such as the dramatic capture of the fall of a 70 m-wide segment of the Aswan cliff observed in July 2015. But Ramy El-Maarry and Graham Driver of Birkbeck, University of London, may have found an even larger collapse event, linked to a bright outburst seen on 12 September 2015 along the northern-southern hemisphere divide.

“This seems to be one of the largest cliff collapses we’ve seen on the comet during Rosetta’s lifetime, with an area of about 2000 square metres collapsing,” said Ramy, also speaking at EPSC-DPS today.

During perihelion passage, the southern hemisphere of the comet was subjected to high solar input, resulting in increased levels of activity and more intensive erosion than elsewhere on the comet.

“Inspection of before and after images allow us to ascertain that the scarp was intact up until at least May 2015, for when we still have high enough resolution images in that region to see it,” says Graham, an undergraduate student working with Ramy to investigate Rosetta’s vast image archive.

“The location in this particularly active region increases the likelihood that the collapsing event is linked to the outburst that occurred in September 2015.”

Looking in detail at the debris around the collapsed region suggests that other large erosion events have happened here in the past. Ramy and Graham found that the debris includes blocks of variable size ranging up to tens of metres, substantially larger than the boulder population following the Aswan cliff collapse, which is mainly comprised of boulders a few metres diameter.

“This variability in the size distribution of the fallen debris suggests either differences in the strength of the comet’s layered materials, and/or varying mechanisms of cliff collapse,” adds Ramy.

Studying comet changes like these not only gives insight into the dynamic nature of these small bodies on short timescales, but the larger scale cliff collapses provide unique views into the internal structure of the comet, helping to piece together the comet’s evolution over longer timescales.

“Rosetta’s datasets continue to surprise us, and it’s wonderful the next generation of students are already making exciting discoveries,” adds Matt Taylor, ESA’s Rosetta project scientist.

Cliff collapses on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko following outbursts as observed by the Rosetta mission, by M. R. El-Maarry and G. Driver
https://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EPSC-DPS2019/EPSC-DPS2019-1727-1.pdf

Bouncing boulders on Comet 67P by J-B. Vincent et al
https://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EPSC-DPS2019/EPSC-DPS2019-502-1.pdf

Evolution of a bouncing boulder

Caption: An example of a boulder having moved across the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko’s surface, captured in Rosetta’s OSIRIS imagery.

The first image (left) provides a reference view of the comet, along with a close-up of the region under study. The smaller insets on the right show before and after images of the region containing the bouncing boulder, captured on 17 March 2015 and 19 June 2016, respectively. Impressions of the boulder have been left in the soft regolith covering the comet’s surface as it bounced to a halt. It is thought to have fallen from the nearby cliff, which is about 50 m high. The graphic at the bottom illustrates the path of the boulder as it bounced across the surface, with preliminary measurements of the ‘craters’ calculated. 

Credits: Images: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA (CC BY-SA 4.0); Analysis: J-B. Vincent et al (2019)
Comet outburst 12 September 2015 Caption: An outburst event on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko took place on 12 September 2015 and is thought to be associated with one of the most dramatic cliff collapses captured during the lifetime of the Rosetta mission. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Cliff collapse before and after

Caption: Before and after a cliff collapse on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. In the upper panels the yellow arrows show the location of a scarp at the boundary between the illuminated northern hemisphere and the dark southern hemisphere of the small lobe at times before and after the outburst event (September 2014 and June 2016, respectively). The lower panels show close-ups of the upper panels; the blue arrow points to the scarp that appears to have collapsed in the image after the outburst. Two boulders (1and 2) are marked for orientation. 

Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Media contacts

Anita Heward

EPSC Press Officer

+44 7756 034243

epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Livia Giacomini

EPSC Press Officer

epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Adriana Postiglione

EPSC Press Officer

epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Shantanu Naidu

DPS Press Officer

dpspress@aas.org

Notes for Editors

EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019

The 2019 Joint Meeting (www.epsc-dps2019.eu) of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) of the Europlanet Society and the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) will take place at the Centre International de Conférences de Genève (CICG), Geneva, Switzerland, from Sunday 15 to Friday 20 September 2019. More than 1950 abstracts have been submitted and over 1500 planetary scientists from Europe, the US and around the world are expected to attend the meeting, making it one of the largest gatherings of planetary scientists held in Europe to date.

The EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 ia the third time that EPSC and the DPS Annual Meeting have been held together.

Follow: @europlanetmedia #EPSCDPS2019

Europlanet Society

The Europlanet Society, launched in September 2018, is an organization for individual and corporate members to promote the advancement of planetary science and related fields in Europe. The Society provides Europe’s planetary science community with a platform to exchange ideas and personnel, share research tools, data and facilities, define key science goals for the future, and engage stakeholders, policy makers and European citizens with planetary science. The Europlanet Society is the parent organisation of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC).

Europlanet Society website: www.europlanet-society.org

EPSC-DPSC 2019 Joint Meeting 2019 website: www.epsc-dps2019.eu

DPS

The Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS), founded in 1968, is the largest special-interest Division of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Members of the DPS study the bodies of our own solar system, from planets and moons to comets and asteroids, and all other solar-system objects and processes. With the discovery that planets exist around other stars, the DPS has expanded its scope to include the study of extrasolar planetary systems as well.

The AAS, established in 1899, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. The membership (approx. 7,500) also includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers, and others whose research interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising contemporary astronomy. The mission of the AAS is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe, which it achieves through publishing, meeting organization, education and outreach, and training and professional development.

AIDA collaboration highlights case for planetary defence

AIDA collaboration highlights case for planetary defence

Surprising results from recent asteroid missions have highlighted the importance of testing planetary defence strategies in space, according to scientists participating in the joint ESA/NASA Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA) collaboration. The unexpectedly large crater on asteroid Ryugu created by the JAXA Hayabysa2 impactor, together with the sand-like behaviour of material on its surface, further motivate the need to determine the effectiveness of proposed deflection techniques for an asteroid on a potential collision course with Earth. Implications are being discussed this week at the EPS-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 in Geneva.

The AIDA collaboration encompasses two missions that will demonstrate and evaluate the ‘kinetic impactor’ technique at the near-earth binary asteroid, Didymos. NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) will impact the smaller of the two companions, Didymos B, in September 2022. ESA’s Hera mission, if funded at the Ministerial Conference in November this year, will rendezvous with the Didymos asteroid pair and investigate the outcome of the impact in 2027. 

Didymos B – sometimes known as “Didymoon” – is around 160 metres in diameter and will be the smallest target object for a mission to date. Asteroids around 100-200 metres in size are the most common type of Near Earth Objects (NEOs) that could potentially end up on a collision course with Earth and cause regionally catastrophic devastation. However, it is thought that only about a third of these objects have been detected and tracked to date.

Dr Patrick Michel, who is presenting in sessions on planetary defence at EPSC-DPS 2019, said, “The impact with Hayabusa2 showed that there was no cohesion on the surface and the regolith behaved like pure sand. Gravity was dominating the process, rather than the intrinsic strength of the material from which the asteroid is made. If gravity is also dominant at Didymos B, even though it is much smaller, we could end up with a much bigger crater than our models and lab-based experiments to date have shown. Ultimately, very little is known about the behaviour of these small bodies during impacts and this could have big consequences for planetary defence.”

The DART mission is on track to launch in July 2021. The DART spacecraft will impact Didymos B, with the aim of shortening the time it takes the moonlet to orbit its larger companion by several minutes. Telescopes on Earth will be able to observe Didymos both before and after DART’s impact, and these observations will be used to measure the amount of deflection caused by DART’s impact. The impact will be imaged by LICIACube (Light Italian Cubesat for Imaging Asteroids), a cubesat contributed by Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI), which will be deployed from the DART spacecraft a few days prior to impact.  

Nancy Chabot, DART Mission Coordination Lead and Planetary Scientist at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, said: “DART’s target, Didymos, is an ideal candidate for humankind’s first planetary defence experiment.  It is not on a path to collide with Earth, and therefore poses no current threat to the planet. However, its binary nature enables DART to trial and evaluate the effects of a kinetic impactor.”

A primary objective of ESA’s Hera mission is to measure the mass of Didymos B to estimate how efficient the kinetic impact turned out to be. It will study the impact crater in detail and characterise the physical and mineralogical properties of the asteroid pair. 

An in-depth understanding of the Didymos binary pair provided by the Hera mission, together with ground-based observations, would enable planetary defence preparations to go to a new level of planning by scaling the effects of the impact to other asteroids. 

Hera has passed its system requirements review, which demonstrates that the mission can proceed into development. Following a green light at the meeting in November, in addition to start building the spacecraft, the Hera team will plan the operations at the asteroid in detail.

Last week the AIDA Consortium held a workshop in Rome to show the status of DART, LICIACube and Hera. The meeting was attended by over 100 participants from 18 countries.

Michael Kuppers said, “DART and Hera will provide valuable knowledge individually. However, when combined together through the AIDA collaboration, the scientific and technical benefits are enhanced considerably. In an even wider context, comparing the physical properties of Didymos to those of Ryugu from JAXA’s Hayabusa2 mission and the Bennu asteroid studies by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission will significantly contribute to our understanding of how single and multiple asteroid systems form and evolve.”

AIDA is the international ESA- and NASA-supported collaboration that will combine the data obtained from NASA’s DART mission, ASI’s LICIACube, and ESA’s Hera mission to produce the most accurate knowledge possible from the first demonstration of an asteroid deflection technology..The DART mission is being developed and led for NASA by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, USA. 

Images

Schematic of the DART mission shows the impact on the moonlet of asteroid (65803) Didymos. Post-impact observations from Earth-based optical telescopes and planetary radar would, in turn, measure the change in the moonlet’s orbit about the parent body. Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab

https://www.europlanet-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/dart-schematic.png

ESA’s Hera mission will visit the double asteroid Didymos. It will get close to the smaller of the two asteroids, Didymoon, an artistic rendering of which is shown in this image. ESA – Science Office

https://www.europlanet-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Didymoon_seen_from_Didymos.jpg

Artistic rendering of the double asteroid Didymos. ESA – Science Office

https://www.europlanet-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Didymos_and_Didymoon.jpg

Hera in orbit. Credit: ESA–ScienceOffice.org

https://www.europlanet-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Hera_in_orbit.jpg

Science Contacts

Patrick Michel
Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, CNRS
michelp@oca.eu

Nancy Chabot
Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab
Nancy.Chabot@jhuapl.edu

Michael Küppers
European Space Astronomy Centre (ESA/ESAC)
michael.kueppers@sciops.esa.int

Media contacts

Anita Heward
EPSC Press Officer
+44 7756 034243
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Livia Giacomini
EPSC Press Officer
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Adriana Postiglione
EPSC Press Officer
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Shantanu Naidu
DPS Press Officer
dpspress@aas.org

Notes for Editors

EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019

The 2019 Joint Meeting (www.epsc-dps2019.eu) of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) of the Europlanet Society and the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) will take place at the Centre International de Conférences de Genève (CICG), Geneva, Switzerland, from Sunday 15 to Friday 20 September 2019. More than 1950 abstracts have been submitted and over 1500 planetary scientists from Europe, the US and around the world are expected to attend the meeting, making it one of the largest gatherings of planetary scientists held in Europe to date.

The EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 will be the third time that EPSC and the DPS Annual Meeting have been held together.

Follow: @europlanetmedia#EPSCDPS2019

Europlanet

The Europlanet Society, launched in September 2018, is an organization for individual and corporate members to promote the advancement of planetary science and related fields in Europe. The Society provides Europe’s planetary science community with a platform to exchange ideas and personnel, share research tools, data and facilities, define key science goals for the future, and engage stakeholders, policy makers and European citizens with planetary science. The Europlanet Society is the parent organisation of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC).

Europlanet Society website: www.europlanet-society.org

EPSC-DPSC 2019 Joint Meeting 2019 website: www.epsc-dps2019.eu

DPS

The Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS), founded in 1968, is the largest special-interest Division of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Members of the DPS study the bodies of our own solar system, from planets and moons to comets and asteroids, and all other solar-system objects and processes. With the discovery that planets exist around other stars, the DPS has expanded its scope to include the study of extrasolar planetary systems as well.

The AAS, established in 1899, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. The membership (approx. 7,500) also includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers, and others whose research interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising contemporary astronomy. The mission of the AAS is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe, which it achieves through publishing, meeting organization, education and outreach, and training and professional development.

Citizen science starts to reveal Lucy mission target, Orus

Citizen science starts to reveal Lucy mission target, Orus

Observations made with a telescope designed for citizen science has taken the first step in providing detailed information on a target asteroid for NASA’s Lucy mission. The findings were presented today at the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 in Geneva by Dr Franck Marchis of the SETI Institute.

Orus is the fifth object that Lucy will visit during a circuitous tour of seven different asteroids. The mission is due for launch in 2021 and will fly past Orus, which is part of a group of primitive bodies known as the Trojans, in 2028. 

On 7th September 2019, a team from the Unistellar citizen science project flew to Oman and successfully observed an event known as an occultation, in which Orus passed in front of a star, blocking its light for a few seconds.

Measuring precisely the time that the star is hidden enables astronomers to estimate the diameter of the asteroid and other physical properties. This is the first time an Orus occultation has been observed successfully. Making multiple occultation measurements over the next few years will help the Lucy team to build up an accurate picture of Orus’s shape and rotation.

Marc Buie, an astronomer at Southwest Research Institute, provided the predicted path of the occultation using a combination of observations from the ESA space telescope Gaia, and ground-based facilities like PanSTARRS, as well as other robotic telescopes. A new occultation by Orus will be visible in Australia on 4th November of this year.

“Calculations based previous on our observations from Oman give a diameter of about 54.8 kilometres for Orus, which is in line with estimations. We don’t yet know much about Orus, such as its shape and whether it possesses one or several satellites. The observation has proved that our predictions of the orbit of Orus are accurate and we can now plan a campaign to make multiple occultation observations,” said Dr. Franck Marchis, a senior astronomer at the SETI Institute and Unistellar’s Chief Scientific Officer.

The Lucy mission will be the first spacecraft to study Jupiter’s Trojans – two loose groups of asteroids that orbit the Sun, with one group always ahead of Jupiter in its path, the other always behind. These primitive objects hold crucial information about the history of our Solar System. Because many uncertainties surround the targeted asteroids, NASA needs to understand their shape and trajectories, and therefore to improve the path of its $450 million spacecraft. Determining the shape and size of an asteroid will, for example, allow engineers to optimise the exploration schedule, and increase the science return generated by the mission.

The SETI Institute is partnering with the Unistellar, the start-up behind the eVscope digital telescope, to develop a citizen astronomy programme in response to NASA’s call to the astronomical community to contribute to its Lucy space mission. They plan to use a worldwide network of 2,500 eVscopes to observe occultations by Lucy targets to derive their size, shape, and determine the existence of companion asteroids.

Oman was the most favourable spot on Earth from which to observe the occultation.

“Everything worked perfectly at our station located near Khalil. We were able to capture a light-curve full of valuable information and we have demonstrated that this is do-able with the eVscope prototype,” said Dr Marchis. “We hope to work with observers all over the world to support the Lucy mission.”

Video:

The Orus asteroid occulting a star, in the middle of the screen. Credit: F Marchis/Unistellar/SETI Institute

Images

Conceptual image of the Lucy mission. Credits:  NASA/SwRI

Science Contact

Franck Marchis
Co-founder & CSO at
Unistellar and Senior
Astronomer at SETI Institute
fmarchis@seti.org
+1 510 599 0604

Media contacts

Anita Heward
EPSC Press Officer
+44 7756 034243
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Livia Giacomini
EPSC Press Officer
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Adriana Postiglione
EPSC Press Officer
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Shantanu Naidu
DPS Press Officer
dpspress@aas.org

Unistellar
Ludovic Nachury
Head of Communication
press@unistellaroptics.
com
+33 6 24 31 63 89

SETI Institute
Rebecca McDonald
Director of Communications
rmcdonald@seti.org

Notes for Editors

EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019
The 2019 Joint Meeting (www.epsc-dps2019.eu) of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) of the Europlanet Society and the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) will take place at the Centre International de Conférences de Genève (CICG), Geneva, Switzerland, from Sunday 15 to Friday 20 September 2019. More than 1950 abstracts have been submitted and over 1500 planetary scientists from Europe, the US and around the world are expected to attend the meeting, making it one of the largest gatherings of planetary scientists held in Europe to date.
The EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 will be the third time that EPSC and the DPS Annual Meeting have been held together.
Follow: @europlanetmedia #EPSCDPS2019

Europlanet
The Europlanet Society, launched in September 2018, is an organization for individual and corporate members to promote the advancement of planetary science and related fields in Europe. The Society provides Europe’s planetary science community with a platform to exchange ideas and personnel, share research tools, data and facilities, define key science goals for the future, and engage stakeholders, policy makers and European citizens with planetary science. The Europlanet Society is the parent organisation of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC).
Europlanet Society website: www.europlanet-society.org
EPSC-DPSC 2019 Joint Meeting 2019 website: www.epsc-dps2019.eu

DPS
The Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS), founded in 1968, is the largest special-interest Division of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Members of the DPS study the bodies of our own solar system, from planets and moons to comets and asteroids, and all other solar-system objects and processes. With the discovery that planets exist around other stars, the DPS has expanded its scope to include the study of extrasolar planetary systems as well.

The AAS, established in 1899, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. The membership (approx. 7,500) also includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers, and others whose research interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising contemporary astronomy. The mission of the AAS is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe, which it achieves through publishing, meeting organization, education and outreach, and training and professional development.

About Unistellar
Unistellar is the start-up behind the eVscope, a unique, compact, and user-friendly digital telescope. Its light amplification technology allows users to observe galaxies, nebulae, and comets in unparalleled crisp and colorful detail. In partnership with the SETI Institute, the Unistellar eVscope also allows anyone to contribute to astronomical discoveries while observing.
The Unistellar eVscope received a CES Innovation Award in 2018 in the category Tech for a Better World and has been nominated for a SXSW 2019 Innovation Award. It has raised more than $3 million through crowdfunding, and more than 2,500 digital telescopes have already been preordered.

About the SETI Institute
Founded in 1984, the SETI Institute is a non-profit, multi-disciplinary research and education organization whose mission is to explore, understand, and explain the origin and nature of life in the universe and the evolution of intelligence. Our research encompasses the physical and biological sciences and leverages expertise in data analytics, machine learning and advanced signal detection technologies. The SETI Institute is a distinguished research partner for industry, academia and government agencies, including NASA and NSF. https://www.seti.org/

‘Snow-cannon’ Enceladus shines up Saturn’s super-reflector moons

‘Snow-cannon’ Enceladus shines up Saturn’s super-reflector moons

Radar observations of Saturn’s moons, Mimas, Enceladus and Tethys, show that Enceladus is acting as a ‘snow-cannon’, coating itself and its neighbours with fresh water-ice particles to make them dazzlingly reflective. The extreme radar brightness also points to the presence of ‘boomerang’ structures beneath the surface that boost the moons’ efficiency in returning the microwave signals to the spacecraft. The results will be presented at the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 in Geneva by Dr Alice Le Gall.

Dr Le Gall and a team of researchers from France and the US have analysed 60 radar observations of Saturn’s inner moons, drawing from the full database of observations taken by the Cassini mission between 2004 and 2017. They found that previous reporting on these observations had underestimated the radar brightness by a factor of two. 

Unprotected by any atmospheres, Saturn’s inner moons are bombarded by grains of various origins which alter their surface composition and texture. Cassini radar observations can help assess these effects by giving insights into the purity of the satellites’ water ice. 

The extreme radar brightness is most likely related to the geysers that pump water from Enceladus’s internal ocean into the region in which the three moons orbit. Ultra-clean water ice particles fall back onto Enceladus itself and precipitate as snow on the other moons’ surfaces.

Dr Le Gall, of LATMOS-UVSQ, Paris, explained: “The super-bright radar signals that we observe require a snow cover that is at least a few tens of centimetres thick. However, the composition alone cannot explain the extremely bright levels recorded. Radar waves can penetrate transparent ice down to few meters and therefore have more opportunities to bounce off buried structures. The sub-surfaces of Saturn’s inner moons must contain highly efficient retro-reflectors that preferentially backscatter radar waves towards their source.”

The nature of these scattering structures remains a mystery. Observations of Enceladus have shown a variety of surface and subsurface features, including ice-blocks, pinnacles, and dense collections of fractures in the surface caused by thermal stress or impacts. However, it has not been demonstrated that these would cause the extreme radar brightness observed at the moons. 

More exotic structures, such as blade-like features called penitentes or bowl-shaped depressions in the snow known as sun cups, would provide the required reflective efficiency. However, it’s not clear that there is enough solar energy to sublimate the ice and form such structures.

Dr Le Gall and colleagues have now developed a series of models to test whether specific shapes are acting as effective retro-reflectors or whether random scattering events caused by fractures in the surface are combining to enhance the reflection of the signal back towards the spacecraft.

“So far, we don’t have a definitive answer,” said Dr Le Gall. “However, understanding these radar measurements better will give us a clearer picture of the evolution of these moons and their interaction with Saturn’s unique ring environment. This work could also be useful for future missions to land on the moons.”

Further information

Saturn’s inner moons: why are they so radar-bright? Alice Le Gall, Richard West, Léa Bonnefoy, Valérie Ciarletti, Syphax Rahmouni, and Yann Hervé. EPSC-DPS 2019

https://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EPSC-DPS2019/EPSC-DPS2019-454-2.pdf

Images

Mosaic of the surface of Enceladus captured by Cassini on 9th October 2008 from an altitude of 25 kilometres. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Saturn’s moon, Mimas showing dark regions below bright crater walls and streaks on some of the walls. NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Mosaic view of Saturn’s moon Tethys showing Odysseus crater. NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Boulder-strewn surface of Enceladus in context of a wide-angle camera image. Both images were acquired at an altitude of approximately 208 kilometers by the Cassini mission. NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Blade-like features called penitentes, here observed on the surface of Pluto, would provide the required reflective efficiency for the radar brightness seen at Mimas, Tethys and Enceladus. However, it’s not clear that there is enough solar energy to sublimate the ice and form such structures. Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

Science Contact

Alice Le Gall
LATMOS- UVSQ (Université Paris-Saclay)
Paris
France
alice.legall@latmos.ipsl.fr 

Media contact

Anita Heward
EPSC Press Officer
+44 7756 034243
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Livia Giacomini
EPSC Press Officer
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Adriana Postiglione
EPSC Press Officer
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org 

Shantanu Naidu
DPS Press Officer
dpspress@aas.org 

Notes for Editors

EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019

The 2019 Joint Meeting (www.epsc-dps2019.eu) of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) of the Europlanet Society and the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) will take place at the Centre International de Conférences de Genève (CICG), Geneva, Switzerland, from Sunday 15 to Friday 20 September 2019. More than 1950 abstracts have been submitted and over 1500 planetary scientists from Europe, the US and around the world are expected to attend the meeting, making it one of the largest gatherings of planetary scientists held in Europe to date.

The EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 will be the third time that EPSC and the DPS Annual Meeting have been held together.

Follow: @europlanetmedia #EPSCDPS2019

Europlanet

The Europlanet Society, launched in September 2018, is an organization for individual and corporate members to promote the advancement of planetary science and related fields in Europe. The Society provides Europe’s planetary science community with a platform to exchange ideas and personnel, share research tools, data and facilities, define key science goals for the future, and engage stakeholders, policy makers and European citizens with planetary science. The Europlanet Society is the parent organisation of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC).

Europlanet Society website: www.europlanet-society.org

EPSC-DPSC 2019 Joint Meeting 2019 website: www.epsc-dps2019.eu

DPS

The Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS), founded in 1968, is the largest special-interest Division of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Members of the DPS study the bodies of our own solar system, from planets and moons to comets and asteroids, and all other solar-system objects and processes. With the discovery that planets exist around other stars, the DPS has expanded its scope to include the study of extrasolar planetary systems as well.

The AAS, established in 1899, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. The membership (approx. 7,500) also includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers, and others whose research interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising contemporary astronomy. The mission of the AAS is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe, which it achieves through publishing, meeting organization, education and outreach, and training and professional development.


Is huge volcano on Jupiter’s moon Io about to erupt this month?

Is huge volcano on Jupiter’s moon Io about to erupt this month?

Volcanic eruptions are difficult to predict, but observations have shown the largest and most powerful volcano on Io, a large moon of Jupiter, has been erupting on a relatively regular schedule.

The volcano Loki is expected to erupt in mid-September, 2019, according to a poster by Planetary Science Institute Senior Scientist Julie Rathbun presented today at the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 in Geneva.

“Loki is the largest and most powerful volcano on Io, so bright in the infrared that we can detect it using telescopes on the Earth,” Rathbun said. Based on more than 20 years of observations, Loki undergoes periodic brightenings when it erupts on a relatively regular schedule. In 2002, Rathbun published a paper showing that the schedule had been approximately every 540 days during the 1990s. It currently appears to be approximately every 475 days. 

“If this behavior remains the same, Loki should erupt in September 2019, around the same time as the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019. We correctly predicted that the last eruption would occur in May of 2018,” said Rathbun.

“Volcanoes are so difficult to predict because they are so complicated.  Many things influence volcanic eruptions, including the rate of magma supply, the composition of the magma – particularly the presence of bubbles in the magma, the type of rock the volcano sits in, the fracture state of the rock, and many other issues,” Rathbun said. 

“We think that Loki could be predictable because it is so large. Because of its size, basic physics are likely to dominate when it erupts, so the small complications that affect smaller volcanoes are likely to not affect Loki as much,” Rathbun said. “However, you have to be careful because Loki is named after a trickster god and the volcano has not been known to behave itself.  In the early 2000s, once the 540 day pattern was detected, Loki’s behavior changed and did not exhibit periodic behavior again until about 2013.”

Rathbun’s research was funded by NASA New Frontiers Data Analysis and Solar System Observation programs and a National Science Foundation grant.

“Io’s Loki volcano: An explanation of its tricky behaviour and prediction for the next eruption. Julie A. Rathbun, Christian Tate, Paul Corlies, Alexander Hayes, and John R. Spencer, EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019, 17 September 2019.

https://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EPSC-DPS2019/EPSC-DPS2019-769-1.pdf

 “Loki, Io: A periodic volcano”, J. Rathbun, Geophysical Research Letters 29(10), May 2002.

Images

This picture from Voyager 1 shows the volcano Loki on Jupiter’s moon Io. When this picture was taken, the main eruptive activity came from the lower left of the dark linear feature (perhaps a rift) in the center. Below is the “lava lake,” a U-shaped dark area about 200 kilometers across.
https://www.europlanet-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Loki.png

Science contact

Julie Rathbun
Planetary Science Institute
rathbun@psi.edu

Media contact

Anita Heward
EPSC Press Officer
+44 7756 034243
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Livia Giacomini
EPSC Press Officer
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Adriana Postiglione
EPSC Press Officer
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org 

Alan Fischer
Planetary Science Institute
fischer@psi.edu

Notes for Editors

EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019

The 2019 Joint Meeting (www.epsc-dps2019.eu) of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) of the Europlanet Society and the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) will take place at the Centre International de Conférences de Genève (CICG), Geneva, Switzerland, from Sunday 15 to Friday 20 September 2019. More than 1950 abstracts have been submitted and over 1500 planetary scientists from Europe, the US and around the world are expected to attend the meeting, making it one of the largest gatherings of planetary scientists held in Europe to date.

The EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 will be the third time that EPSC and the DPS Annual Meeting have been held together.

Follow: @europlanetmedia #EPSCDPS2019

Europlanet

The Europlanet Society, launched in September 2018, is an organization for individual and corporate members to promote the advancement of planetary science and related fields in Europe. The Society provides Europe’s planetary science community with a platform to exchange ideas and personnel, share research tools, data and facilities, define key science goals for the future, and engage stakeholders, policy makers and European citizens with planetary science. The Europlanet Society is the parent organisation of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC).

Europlanet Society website: www.europlanet-society.org

EPSC-DPSC 2019 Joint Meeting 2019 website: www.epsc-dps2019.eu

DPS

The Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS), founded in 1968, is the largest special-interest Division of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Members of the DPS study the bodies of our own solar system, from planets and moons to comets and asteroids, and all other solar-system objects and processes. With the discovery that planets exist around other stars, the DPS has expanded its scope to include the study of extrasolar planetary systems as well.

The AAS, established in 1899, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. The membership (approx. 7,500) also includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers, and others whose research interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising contemporary astronomy. The mission of the AAS is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe, which it achieves through publishing, meeting organization, education and outreach, and training and professional development.

Age-old debate on Saturn’s rings reignited

Age-old debate on Saturn’s rings reignited

A team of researchers has reignited the debate about the age of Saturn’s rings with a study that dates the rings as most likely to have formed early in the Solar System. 

In a paper published today in Nature Astronomy and presented at the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 in Geneva, the authors suggest that processes that preferentially eject dusty and organic material out of Saturn’s rings could make the rings look much younger than they actually are.

Cassini’s dive through the rings during the mission’s Grand Finale in 2017 provided data that was interpreted as evidence that Saturn’s rings formed just a few tens of millions of years ago, around the time that dinosaurs walked the Earth. Gravity measurements taken during the dive gave a more accurate estimate of the mass of the rings, which are made up of more than 95% water ice and less than 5% rocks, organic materials and metals. The mass estimate was then used to work out how long the pristine ice of the rings would need to be exposed to dust and micrometeorites to reach the level of other ‘pollutants’ that we see today. 

For many, this resolved the mystery of the age of the rings. However, Aurelien Crida, lead author of the new study, believes that the debate is not yet settled.

“We can’t directly measure the age of Saturn’s rings like the rings on a tree-stump, so we have to deduce their age from other properties like mass and chemical composition. Recent studies have made assumptions that the dust flow is constant, the mass of the rings is constant, and that the rings retain all the pollution material that they receive. However, there is still a lot of uncertainty about all these points and, when taken with other results from the Cassini mission, we believe that there is a strong case that the rings are much, much older,” said Dr Crida, of the Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, CNRS.

Crida and colleagues argue that the mass measured during the Cassini mission finale is in extraordinarily good agreement with models of the dynamical evolution of massive rings dating back to the primordial Solar System. 

The rings are made of particles and blocks ranging in size from metres down to micrometres. Viscous interactions between the blocks cause the rings to spread out and carry material away like a conveyor-belt. This leads to mass loss from the innermost edge, where particles fall into the planet, and from the outer edge, where material crosses the outer boundary into a region where moonlets and satellites start to form. 

More massive rings spread more rapidly and lose mass faster. The models show that whatever the initial mass of the rings, there is a tendency for the rings to converge on a mass measured by Cassini after around 4 billion years, matching the timescale of the formation of the Solar System.

“From our present understanding of the viscosity of the rings, the mass measured during the Cassini Grand Finale would be the natural product of several billion years of evolution, which is appealing. Admittedly, nothing forbids the rings from having been formed very recently with this precise mass and having barely evolved since. However, that would be quite a coincidence,” said Dr Crida.

Co-author Hsiang-Wen Hsu was part of a team that announced results in October 2018 from Cassini’s Cosmic Dust Analyzer, which showed 600 kilogrammes of silicate grains fall on Saturn from the rings every second. Other studies using data from the Cassini Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer have shown the presence of organic molecules in Saturn’s upper atmosphere that are thought to derive from the rings. 

Dr Hsu, of the Laboratory for Space and Atmospheric Physics at Boulder, Colorado, said: “These results suggest that the rings are ‘cleaning’ themselves of pollutants. The nature of this potential ring-cleaning process is still mysterious. However, our study shows that the exposure age is not necessarily linked to the formation age, thus the rings may appear artificially young.” 

Images

The Saturn’s rings.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
www.europlanet-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/pia14943-full.jpg
An image of Saturn taken by Cassini.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
www.europlanet-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/pia12567-1600.jpg

Further information

Are Saturn’s rings actually young? Aurélien Crida, Sébastien Charnoz, Hsiang-Wen Hsu, and Luke Dones, EPSC-DPS 2019. 

meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EPSC-DPS2019/EPSC-DPS2019-783-1.pdf

Are Saturn’s rings actually young? Crida, Charnoz, Hsu, Dones, Nature Astronomy, 876, 2019.

www.nature.com/articles/s41550-019-0876-y

Science Contacts

Aurélien Crida
Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur 
Nice, France
Email: crida@oca.eu

Media contact

Marc Fulconis
Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur
Nice, France
marc.fulconis@oca.eu

Anita Heward
EPSC Press Officer
+44 7756 034243
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Livia Giacomini
EPSC Press Officer
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Adriana Postiglione
EPSC Press Officer
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org 

Notes for Editors

EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019

The 2019 Joint Meeting (www.epsc-dps2019.eu) of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) of the Europlanet Society and the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) will take place at the Centre International de Conférences de Genève (CICG), Geneva, Switzerland, from Sunday 15 to Friday 20 September 2019. More than 1950 abstracts have been submitted and over 1500 planetary scientists from Europe, the US and around the world are expected to attend the meeting, making it one of the largest gatherings of planetary scientists held in Europe to date.

The EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 will be the third time that EPSC and the DPS Annual Meeting have been held together.

Follow: @europlanetmedia #EPSCDPS2019

Europlanet

The Europlanet Society, launched in September 2018, is an organization for individual and corporate members to promote the advancement of planetary science and related fields in Europe. The Society provides Europe’s planetary science community with a platform to exchange ideas and personnel, share research tools, data and facilities, define key science goals for the future, and engage stakeholders, policy makers and European citizens with planetary science. The Europlanet Society is the parent organisation of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC).

Europlanet Society website: www.europlanet-society.org

EPSC-DPSC 2019 Joint Meeting 2019 website: www.epsc-dps2019.eu

DPS

The Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS), founded in 1968, is the largest special-interest Division of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Members of the DPS study the bodies of our own solar system, from planets and moons to comets and asteroids, and all other solar-system objects and processes. With the discovery that planets exist around other stars, the DPS has expanded its scope to include the study of extrasolar planetary systems as well.

The AAS, established in 1899, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. The membership (approx. 7,500) also includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers, and others whose research interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising contemporary astronomy. The mission of the AAS is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe, which it achieves through publishing, meeting organization, education and outreach, and training and professional development.

3D models of Mars to aid Rosalind Franklin rover in her quest for ancient life

3D models of Mars to aid Rosalind Franklin rover in her quest for ancient life

Scientists at TU Dortmund University have generated high-accuracy 3D models of terrain within the landing ellipse of the ESA/Roscosmos ExoMars rover, Rosalind Franklin. The Digital Terrain Models (DTMs) have a resolution of about 25 cm per pixel and will help scientists to understand the geography and geological characteristics of the region and to plan the path of the rover around the site.

To increase the accuracy of the models, the team has developed an innovative technique that integrates atmospheric data into the digitally-generated scenes. The models will be presented by Kay Wohlfarth at the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 in Geneva on Monday 16 September.

The DTMs are based on high-resolution imagery of Mars from the HiRISE instrument on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. HiRISE imagery has been widely applied to the classic stereo method of combining two images taken from slightly different angles to create a 3D picture of the landscape. However, conventional stereo techniques have limitations when applied to the featureless, homogeneous regions that characterise many dusty and sandy planetary surfaces, including the rover’s landing site. 

Oxia Planum, the landing site chosen by ESA’s ExoMars Landing Site Selection Working Group for Rosalind Franklin, is comparatively flat to minimise the risk of a hard landing and to ensure accessibility for the rover to carry out its mission. The region contains clay minerals and structures from ancient river beds that may bear hints of past traces of life.

To enhance the DTM, the team from TU Dortmund University has applied a technique called ‘Shape from Shading’ in which the intensity of reflected light in the image is translated into information on surface slopes. This slope data is integrated into the stereo imagery, giving an improved estimate of the 3D surface and achieving the best resolution possible in the reconstructed landscape. 

Kay Wohlfarth explained: “With the technique, even small-scale details such as dune ripples inside craters and rough bedrock can be reproduced.”

Marcel Hess, first author of the study, said: “We have taken special care over the interaction between light and the martian surface. Areas that are tilted towards the Sun appear brighter and areas that are facing away appear darker. Our approach uses a joint reflectance and atmospheric model that incorporates reflection by the surface as well as atmospheric effects that diffuse and scatter light.” 

The Rosalind Franklin ExoMars rover will carry a suite of scientific instruments to analyse rocks and the surface environment at Oxia Planum. To look beneath the surface, it carries a drill that will retrieve samples and deliver them to an onboard laboratory designed to detect biosignatures, as well as instruments to probe the subsurface water content. The mission will launch in the summer of 2020 on a Russian Proton-M launcher and arrive at Mars in March 2021.

ESA ExoMars pages: www.esa.int/exomars

Images

Rendered view of a small region revealing small details. Credit: Credit: TU Dortmund/NASAJPL-Caltech
www.europlanet-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/ROI1.png
Rendered view of a small region revealing small details.
Credit: TU Dortmund/NASAJPL-Caltech
https://www.europlanet-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/ROI2.png

Video

A video of the Digital Elevation Model of the landing site can be found at: https://youtu.be/L0HgyyqbsPg

Scientific Contact

Marcel Hess
Image Analysis Group 
TU Dortmund University
Germany
marcel.hess@tu-dortmund.de

Kay Wohlfarth
Image Analysis Group
TU Dortmund University
Germany
kay.wohlfarth@tu-dortmund.de

Christian Wöhler
Image Analysis Group 
TU Dortmund
Germany
christian.woehler@tu-dortmund.de

Ottaviano Ruesch 
European Space Agency 
Noordwijk 
The Netherlands 
ottaviano.ruesch@esa.int 

Media Contact

Anita Heward
EPSC Press Officer
+44 7756 034243
anita.heward@europlanet-eu.org
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Livia Giacomini 
EPSC Press Officer
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org 

Adriana Postiglione 
EPSC Press Officer
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Shantanu Naidu
DPS Press Officer
dpspress@aas.org 

During the meeting, the EPSC-DPS Press Office can be contacted on +41 22 791 9617.

Further Information

Europlanet 

The Europlanet Society, launched in September 2018, is an organization for individual and corporate members to promote the advancement of planetary science and related fields in Europe. The Society provides Europe’s planetary science community with a platform to exchange ideas and personnel, share research tools, data and facilities, define key science goals for the future, and engage stakeholders, policy makers and European citizens with planetary science. The Europlanet Society is the parent organisation of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC).

Europlanet Society website: www.europlanet-society.org

EPSC-DPSC 2019 Joint Meeting 2019 website: www.epsc-dps2019.eu

DPS

The Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS), founded in 1968, is the largest special-interest Division of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Members of the DPS study the bodies of our own solar system, from planets and moons to comets and asteroids, and all other solar-system objects and processes. With the discovery that planets exist around other stars, the DPS has expanded its scope to include the study of extrasolar planetary systems as well.

The AAS, established in 1899, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. The membership (approx. 7,500) also includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers, and others whose research interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising contemporary astronomy. The mission of the AAS is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe, which it achieves through publishing, meeting organization, education and outreach, and training and professional development.

2019 Farinella Prize Awarded to Scott Sheppard and Chad Trujillo

2019 Farinella Prize Awarded to Scott Sheppard and Chad Trujillo

Prof Scott S. Sheppard, an American astronomer working at The Carnegie Institution for Science of Washington, and Prof Chad Trujillo, an American scientist working at Northern Arizona University, have been awarded jointly the 2019 Paolo Farinella Prize for their outstanding collaborative work for the observational characterisation of the Kuiper belt and the Neptune-trojan population. The award ceremony was hosted today at the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland. The ceremony included two lectures by the winners on “Completing the Inventory of the Solar System”.

The annual prize was established in 2010 to honour the memory of the Italian scientist Paolo Farinella (1953-2000) and, each year, it acknowledges an outstanding researcher not older than 47 years (the age of Farinella when he passed away) who has achieved important results in one of Farinella’s fields of work. Each year the Prize focuses on a different research area and in 2019, the ninth edition was devoted to the trans-Neptunian objects, including, among other objects, the Kuiper belt the edge of the Solar System.

Prof Sheppard and Prof Trujillo have discovered a significant number of detached and distant trans-Neptunian objects, unveiling the structure of the distant Kuiper belt and pointing out, for the first time, the directionally-dependent distribution of their orbits. Their work has opened up new hypotheses on the formation and evolution of the Solar System, including that there might be a very distant undiscovered giant planet in our Solar System.

Prof Sheppard received his BA in Physics at Oberlin College, Ohio and his PhD in astronomy at the University of Hawaii. He is currently a Faculty Member at the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington.

Prof Trujillo received his BA in Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his PhD in astronomy at the University of Hawaii. He currently holds the position of Assistant Professor at the Department of Physics & Astronomy at Northern Arizona University.

Before receiving the Prize, Prof Sheppard commented: “I’m very honored to be awarded the Paolo Farinella Prize in planetary research.  Paolo was an inspiration and it is great his memory lives on with this prize.”     

Prof Trujillo added: “I know that our research is well-known, but there are so many excellent scientists studying the outer Solar System that I was astonished and humbled that the committee chose us to receive this prestigious award.”

About the Paolo Farinella Prize

The Paolo Farinella Prize (http://www.europlanet-eu.org/paolo-farinella-prize) was established to honour the memory and the outstanding figure of Paolo Farinella (1953-2000), an extraordinary scientist and person, in recognition of significant contributions given in the fields of interest of Farinella, which span from planetary sciences to space geodesy, fundamental physics, science popularization, and security in space, weapons control and disarmament. The winner of the prize is selected each year on the basis of his/her overall research results in a chosen field, among candidates with international and interdisciplinary collaborations, not older than 47 years, the age of Farinella when he passed away, at the date of 25 March 2000. The prize was first proposed during the “International Workshop on Paolo Farinella the scientist and the man,” held in Pisa in 2010, supported by the University of Pisa, ISTI/CNR and by IAPS-INAF (Rome). The first “Paolo Farinella Prize” was awarded in 2011 to William Bottke, for his contribution to the field of “physics and dynamics of small solar system bodies.” In 2012 the Prize went to John Chambers, for his contribution to the field of “formation and early evolution of the solar system.” In 2013, to Patrick Michel, for his work in the field of “collisional processes in the solar system,”. In 2014, to David Vokrouhlicky for his contributions to “our understanding of the dynamics and physics of solar system, including how pressure from solar radiation affects the orbits of both asteroids and artificial satellites”, in 2015 to Nicolas Biver for his studies of “the molecular and isotopic composition of cometary volatiles by means of submillimeter and millimeter ground and space observations,” and in 2016 to Dr. Kleomenis Tsiganis for “his studies of the applications of celestial mechanics to the dynamics of planetary systems, including the development of the Nice model”. In 2017, to Simone Marchi, for his contributions to “understanding the complex problems related to the impact history and physical evolution of the inner Solar System, including the Moon”. Finally, in 2018, to Francis Nimmo, for his contributions in our “understanding of the internal structure and evolution of icy bodies in the Solar System and the resulting influence on their surface processes”.

Images

Prof. Scott Sheppard, giving the Farinella Prize Lecture 2019.
Credit: S. Sheppard/Europlanet/ G. Mantovani
https://www.europlanet-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Sheppard-1.jpg
Prof. Chad Trujillo, giving the Farinella Prize Lecture 2019.
Credit: C. Trujillo /Europlanet/ G. Mantovani
www.europlanet-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Trujillo.jpg
Prof. Scott Sheppard, winner of the Farinella Prize 2019. Credit: S. Sheppard
www.europlanet-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Sheppard.jpg
Prof. Chad Trujillo, winner of the Farinella Prize 2019. Credit: C. Trujillo
www.europlanet-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Trujillo.jpeg

Science Contacts

Prof. Scott Sheppard
Department of Terrestrial Magnetism
The Carnegie Institution for Science
5241 Broad Branch Rd. NW
Washington, DC 20015
ssheppard@carnegiescience.edu

Prof Chad Trujillo
Department of Astronomy and Planetary Science
Northern Arizona University
AZ 86011, S San Francisco St,
Flagstaff, Arizona
chad.trujillo@nau.edu

Media Contacts

Anita Heward
EPSC Press Officer
+44 7756 034243
anita.heward@europlanet-eu.org
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Livia Giacomini 
EPSC Press Officer
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org 

Adriana Postiglione 
EPSC Press Officer
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Shantanu Naidu
DPS Press Officer
dpspress@aas.org 

During the meeting, the EPSC-DPS Press Office can be contacted on +41 22 791 9617.

Further Information

Europlanet 

The Europlanet Society, launched in September 2018, is an organization for individual and corporate members to promote the advancement of planetary science and related fields in Europe. The Society provides Europe’s planetary science community with a platform to exchange ideas and personnel, share research tools, data and facilities, define key science goals for the future, and engage stakeholders, policy makers and European citizens with planetary science. The Europlanet Society is the parent organisation of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC).

Europlanet Society website: www.europlanet-society.org

EPSC-DPSC 2019 Joint Meeting 2019 website: www.epsc-dps2019.eu

DPS

The Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS), founded in 1968, is the largest special-interest Division of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Members of the DPS study the bodies of our own solar system, from planets and moons to comets and asteroids, and all other solar-system objects and processes. With the discovery that planets exist around other stars, the DPS has expanded its scope to include the study of extrasolar planetary systems as well.

The AAS, established in 1899, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. The membership (approx. 7,500) also includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers, and others whose research interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising contemporary astronomy. The mission of the AAS is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe, which it achieves through publishing, meeting organization, education and outreach, and training and professional development.

ARIEL exoplanet mission celebrates machine learning challenge and citizen science launch

ARIEL exoplanet mission celebrates machine learning challenge and citizen science launch

ARIEL, an ESA mission to make the first large-scale survey of exoplanet atmospheres, has announced the winners of its first international Machine Learning Data Challenge and has launched a new project, ExoClocks, aimed at amateur astronomers and citizen scientists.

The winners of the Data Challenge, James Dawson (Team SpaceMeerkat), and Vadim Borisov (Team major_tom), were announced today at the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 in Geneva. The pair topped the leader-board for the competition out of 112 registered individuals and teams. The Data Challenge, launched in April, tackled the problem of removing noise from exoplanet observations caused by starspots and by instrumentation.

Nikos Nikolaou of the UCL Centre for Exochemistry Data, who devised the competition, said, “The outcomes of the competition exceeded our expectations, both in terms of the quality of the technical solutions submitted and in the massive numbers of entries for the challenge, which rivalled participation in open machine learning competitions with large monetary prizes.”

A dedicated session is being held today at EPSC-DPS 2019 to present the methodologies used by the winning teams to the exoplanet research community, in order to share advancements in computational statistics and machine learning. The five top-ranked teams have additionally been invited to present their solutions at the European Conference on Machine Learning (ECML-PKDD 2019) on Friday. The participation in both conferences aims to develop closer collaborations between exoplanet researchers and the machine learning and statistics communities.

ARIEL has also launched the ‘ExoClock’ project to collect measurements known as ‘light curves’ that show the drop in intensity as a planet transits in front of its host star and blocks some of the light. When ARIEL starts its mission to observe 1000 exoplanets in 2028, it will need to have precise knowledge of the expected transit time of each planet that it observes. Transits can be measured using small and medium-scale telescopes and give key information about the exoplanets, including their size, orbit, mass and density. ExoClock aims to enlist the sizeable and active amateur astronomy community around the world to gather large numbers of light curve observations and improve the accuracy of transit timings. 

“This is the first open call to join the ExoClock project and we encourage all interested observers to become part of ESA’s ARIEL mission. Every transit observation is unique and important. By participating in ExoClock, citizens all over the world can contribute to the success of the ARIEL mission,” said Anastasia Kokori, who announced the launch of ExoClock at EPSC-DPS 2019.

The ExoClock platform includes target prioritisation and an alert systemto maximise coverage of exoplanet targets and efficient use of resources. Users are given a personalised schedule based on their telescopes and their geographical location. The lightcurves submitted will be analysed, published and credited on ExoClock website and may become part of scientific publications. 

Experienced observers can register directly at exoclock.spaceand get started. For observers that are new to exoplanet transits, training is provided through the ExoWorlds Spies project (exoworldsspies.com). All online resources are currently available free of charge in English and in Greek.

Giovanna Tinetti, Principal Investigator for the ARIEL mission, said: “ARIEL is a challenging mission that’s pushing the boundaries of exoplanet research. The Data Challenges and ExoClock project are enabling us to build a global community of collaborators with a diverse mix of skills and backgrounds. We look forward to working with them over the next few years to develop networks, tools and analysis techniques in preparation for the mission’s launch in 2028.”

Animation

Exoplanet Animation – Transit Light Curve

When a planet crosses directly between us and its star, we see the star dim slightly because the planet is blocking out a portion of the light. We can make a plot called a light curve with the brightness of the star versus time. Using this plot, we can see what percentage of the star’s light the planet blocks and how long it takes the planet to cross the disk of the star. Larger planets block out more light. Credit: NASA/Goddard Media Studios.

Images

Star spots: Space mission data analysis is not easy, especially if you need to observe a planet passing in front of its star that is often 100s of lightyears away. At such distance, one of the main issues is differentiating what is planet and what is star. The Machine Learning ARIEL Data Challenge tackled the problem of identifying and correcting for the effects of spots on the star from the faint signals of the exoplanets’ atmospheres. This image shows a transiting planet passing in front of a star with stellar spots. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada

ARIEL: Artist’s impression of ARIEL on its way to Lagrange Point 2 (L2). Here, the spacecraft is shielded from the Sun and has a clear view of the whole sky. Image Credit: ARIEL space mission/Science Office.

Science Contacts

Nikos Nikolaou
UCL Centre for Space Exochemistry Data
n.nikolaou@ucl.ac.uk

Anastasia Kokori
ExoClock project
UCL Centre for Space Exochemistry Data
anastasia.kokori@gmail.com

Media Contacts

Anita Heward
EPSC Press Officer
+44 7756 034243
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Livia Giacomini
EPSC Press Officer
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Adriana Postiglione
EPSC Press Officer
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Notes for Editors

ARIEL (Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey)

ARIEL, a mission to answer fundamental questions about how planetary systems form and evolve, is a European Space Agency (ESA) medium-class science mission due for launch in 2028. During a 4-year mission, ARIEL will observe 1000 planets orbiting distant stars and make the first large-scale survey of the chemistry of exoplanet atmospheres. The ARIEL mission has been developed by a consortium of more than 60 institutes from 17 ESA member state countries, including UK, France, Italy, Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Hungary, Sweden, Czech Republic, Germany, Portugal, Norway and Estonia with an additional contribution from NASA in the USA currently under study. The UK ARIEL team at UCL, STFC RAL Space, Cardiff University, Oxford University, Mullard Space Science Laboratory, STFC RAL Technology Department and UK ATC is supported by the UK Space Agency. https://ariel-spacemission.eu/

EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019

The 2019 Joint Meeting (www.epsc-dps2019.eu) of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) of the Europlanet Society and the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) will take place at the Centre International de Conférences de Genève (CICG), Geneva, Switzerland, from Sunday 15 to Friday 20 September 2019. More than 1950 abstracts have been submitted and over 1500 planetary scientists from Europe, the US and around the world are expected to attend the meeting, making it one of the largest gatherings of planetary scientists held in Europe to date.

The EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 will be the third time that EPSC and the DPS Annual Meeting have been held together.

Follow: @europlanetmedia#EPSCDPS2019

Europlanet

The Europlanet Society, launched in September 2018, is an organization for individual and corporate members to promote the advancement of planetary science and related fields in Europe. The Society provides Europe’s planetary science community with a platform to exchange ideas and personnel, share research tools, data and facilities, define key science goals for the future, and engage stakeholders, policy makers and European citizens with planetary science. The Europlanet Society is the parent organisation of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC).

Europlanet Society website: www.europlanet-society.org

EPSC-DPSC 2019 Joint Meeting 2019 website: www.epsc-dps2019.eu

DPS

The Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS), founded in 1968, is the largest special-interest Division of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Members of the DPS study the bodies of our own solar system, from planets and moons to comets and asteroids, and all other solar-system objects and processes. With the discovery that planets exist around other stars, the DPS has expanded its scope to include the study of extrasolar planetary systems as well.

The AAS, established in 1899, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. The membership (approx. 7,500) also includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers, and others whose research interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising contemporary astronomy. The mission of the AAS is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe, which it achieves through publishing, meeting organization, education and outreach, and training and professional development.

Stony-iron meteor caused August impact flash at Jupiter

Stony-iron meteor caused August impact flash at Jupiter

Analysis of a bright flash in Jupiter’s atmosphere observed by an amateur astronomer in August 2019 has revealed that the likely cause was a small asteroid with a density typical of stony-iron meteors. The impact is estimated to have released energy equivalent to an explosion of 240 kilotons of TNT – around half the energy released in the 2013 Chelyabinsk event at Earth. The results have been presented today at the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 in Geneva.

Ethan Chappel from Cibolo Texas captured a short flash of light at 04:07 UTC on 7th August in video observations of Jupiter using a small telescope in his backyard. The flash lasted for about 1.5 seconds and, at its peak, appeared as bright as Jupiter’s moon Io. Chappel continued his observations for the next half hour without knowing he had been the only witness of a planetary collision. 

Once inside, Chappel analysed the video data using DeTeCt, an open source software specially designed to identify impacts in Jupiter. On finding a clear image of a flash in one of the videos, he quickly got in touch with the developers of the DeTeCt project, Marc Delcroix and Ricardo Hueso, who in turn contacted their large network of amateurs to see if any other detections had been made. 

Marc Delcroix, a French amateur astronomer, said: “I was thrilled when Ethan contacted me. This is the first impact flash at Jupiter found using the DeTeCt software. These detections are extremely rare because the impact flashes are faint, short and can be easily missed while observing the planets for hours. However, once a flash is found in a video recording it can be analysed to quantify the energy required to make it visible at a distance of 700 million kilometres.” 

Over the past month, Ramanakumar Sankar and Csaba Palotai of the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT), have made an in-depth analysis of the data. They estimate from the energy released by the flash that the impactor could have been an object around 12-16 metres in diameter and with a mass of about 450 tons that disintegrated in the upper atmosphere at an altitude of about 80 kilometres above Jupiter’s clouds. Sankar and Palotai’s models of the light-curve for the flash suggest the impactor had a density typical of stony-iron meteors, indicating that it was a small asteroid rather than a comet.

Hueso, of UPV/EHU in Spain, has made a very similar estimate for the size and mass of the impactor through comparisons with the previous impact flashes detected. The flash appears to have been the second brightest of the six observed so far at Jupiter and offers the greatest potential for detailed data analysis. 

“With six impact flashes observed in ten years since the first flash was discovered in 2010, scientists are becoming more confident in their estimates of the impact rate of these objects in Jupiter. Most of these objects hit Jupiter without being spotted by observers on Earth. However, we now estimate 20-60 similar objects impact with Jupiter each year. Because of Jupiter’s large size and gravitational field this impact rate is ten thousand times larger than the impact rate of similar objects on Earth,” said Hueso.

Hueso and Delcroix hope that more amateur astronomers will routinely use DeTeCt to analyse video observations of Jupiter and Saturn so that more of these impacts can be found and studied.

Marc Delcroix said: “The amateur community has been galvanized by this eventand the number of observersand thevolume of data being processed is increasing rapidly. DeTeCtis a fantastic showcase for pro-am collaboration.”

Jupiter and Saturn impact detection project, M. Delcroix, R.Hueso, J. Juaristi, EPSC-DPS 2019

https://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EPSC-DPS2019/EPSC-DPS2019-970-2.pdf

DeTeCt website: http://astrosurf.com/planetessaf/doc/project_detect.shtml

Animation

The movie plays at slow motion but it was captured at a speed of 83 frames per second. The flash lasts about 1.5 seconds and is easily visible as a point of light in the left side of the planet with a ring around in the brightest frames caused by diffraction in the optics of the telescope. The flash has structure, it lightens, decays and brightens again which are signatures of impact fragmentation in the upper atmosphere of the planet. The movie is in black and white but it was captured using a red filter. Credit: E. Chappel.

https://www.europlanet-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/2019-08-07-0406_9-EC-R-Jup_slow_motion.gif

Images

Image of Jupiter processed from images obtained by Ethan Chappel shortly after the impact. An image of the flash produced by the impact has been included at its right location over the colour image. Credit: E. Chappel

Download high resolution image: https://www.europlanet-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Impact_color_composite_image.jpg

Discovery image: This image was produced by the software DeTeCt when analyzing one of the several video observations obtained by Ethan Chappel. The software identified and highlighted the location of the impact flash. DeTeCts performs differential images of a video while it corrects the position of each frame from distortions caused by atmospheric turbulence. E. Chappel/R. Hueso/M. Delcroix/DeTeCt

Download high resolution image: https://www.europlanet-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Impact_Discovery_image_DeTeCt.jpg

Detailed analysis of the flash from software written at UPV/EHU. The left image shows a clear image of the flash and Jupiter from adding several images of the video near the peak brightness of the flash. The image in the centre subtracts a reference image of the planet showing only the contribution from the impact flash. The right image shows a zoom of the flash at the peak of its brightness. The structure of the central flash and bright ring around are produced by optic effects in the telescope known as diffraction. Even at the scale of thie zoom the flash is a punctual source ligtening Jupiter’s atmosphere over a very small region. Credit: E. Chappel/R. Hueso

Download high resolution image: https://www.europlanet-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Impact_Flash_Zoom.jpg

Light curve of the impact flash showing the time structure of the fireball in Jupiter’s atmosphere. E. Chappel/R. Hueso

Download high resolution image: https://www.europlanet-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Impact_Light_curve.jpg

Science Contacts

Marc Delcroix
DeTeCt Project
delcroix.marc@free.fr

Dr. Ricardo Hueso Alonso
Escuela de Ingeniería de Bilbao
Universidad del País Vasco/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea
Bilbao
Tel: +34 94601 4262
ricardo.hueso@ehu.es

Media Contacts

Anita Heward
EPSC Press Officer
+44 7756 034243
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Livia Giacomini
EPSC Press Officer
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Adriana Postiglione
EPSC Press Officer
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Notes for Editors

DeTeCt

Since 2011, UPV/EHU scientists led by Ricardo Hueso in Spain have made software available for amateurs to be used on their Jupiter acquisition videos with the aim to detect potential flashes resulting from small bodies impacts in Jupiter atmosphere.

In 2012, amateur astronomer Marc Delcroix from France developed the project beyond flash detection to collecting analysis by amateurs using the software in order to refine the impact frequency estimations, launching the DeTeCt project. Since then, several evolutions piloted by professional and amateur resources improved the project and more than 110 000 acquisitions have been analysed. The project has been funded by the Europlanet 2020 Research Infrastructure through the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 654208. http://astrosurf.com/planetessaf/doc/project_detect.shtml

EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019

The 2019 Joint Meeting (www.epsc-dps2019.eu) of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) of the Europlanet Society and the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) will take place at the Centre International de Conférences de Genève (CICG), Geneva, Switzerland, from Sunday 15 to Friday 20 September 2019. More than 1950 abstracts have been submitted and over 1500 planetary scientists from Europe, the US and around the world are expected to attend the meeting, making it one of the largest gatherings of planetary scientists held in Europe to date.

The EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 will be the third time that EPSC and the DPS Annual Meeting have been held together.

Follow:@europlanetmedia#EPSCDPS2019

Europlanet

The Europlanet Society, launched in September 2018, is an organization for individual and corporate members to promote the advancement of planetary science and related fields in Europe. The Society provides Europe’s planetary science community with a platform to exchange ideas and personnel, share research tools, data and facilities, define key science goals for the future, and engage stakeholders, policy makers and European citizens with planetary science. The Europlanet Society is the parent organisation of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC).

Europlanet Society website: www.europlanet-society.org

EPSC-DPSC 2019 Joint Meeting 2019 website: www.epsc-dps2019.eu

DPS

The Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS), founded in 1968, is the largest special-interest Division of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Members of the DPS study the bodies of our own solar system, from planets and moons to comets and asteroids, and all other solar-system objects and processes. With the discovery that planets exist around other stars, the DPS has expanded its scope to include the study of extrasolar planetary systems as well.

The AAS, established in 1899, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. The membership (approx. 7,500) also includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers, and others whose research interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising contemporary astronomy. The mission of the AAS is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe, which it achieves through publishing, meeting organization, education and outreach, and training and professional development.

North polar dunes on Mars

North polar dunes on Mars

Dunes come in various characteristic shapes on Mars just as on Earth, providing clues about the prevailing wind direction. Monitoring them over time also gives us a natural laboratory to study how dunes evolve, and how sediments in general are transported around the planet.

During winter in the polar regions, a thin layer of carbon dioxide ice covers the surface and then sublimates – turns directly from ice into vapour – with the first light of spring. In the dune fields, this springtime defrosting occurs from the bottom up, trapping gas between the ice and the sand. As the ice cracks, this gas is released violently and carries sand with it, forming the dark patches and streaks observed in this CaSSIS image.

The image also captures ‘barchan’ dunes – the crescent or U-shaped dunes seen in the right of the image – as they join and merge into barchanoid ridges. The curved tips of the barchan dunes point downwind and suggest a dominant wind originating from the east-northeast. The transition from barchan to barchanoid dunes tells us that secondary winds also play a role in shaping the dune field.

Discover more about the image on the ESA website: www.esa.int/spaceinimages/Images/2019/09/North_polar_dunes_on_Mars

Image

The dunes captured by CaSSIS on Mars.
The image was taken on 25 May 2019. and is centred at 74.46ºN/348.3ºE – North is up.
Credits:  ESA/Roscosmos/CaSSIS, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO
www.europlanet-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/m01264_Pole_N.png

EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019, 15-20 September, Geneva – Details of Media Briefings

EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019, 15-20 September, Geneva – Details of Media Briefings

Live streams of all press briefings can be accessed at:
https://www.europlanet-society.org/livestream-of-press-briefings-at-epsc-dps-2019/

Submit questions during the briefing via the YouTube chat window, via Twitter @europlanetmedia #EPSCDPS2019, or email epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org.

The 2019 Joint Meeting (www.epsc-dps2019.eu) of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) of the Europlanet Society and the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) will take place at the Centre International de Conférences de Genève (CICG), Geneva, Switzerland, from Sunday 15 to Friday 20 September 2019. More than 1950 abstracts have been submitted and over 1500 planetary scientists from Europe, the US and around the world are expected to attend the meeting, making it one of the largest gatherings of planetary scientists held in Europe to date.

The EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 will be the third time that EPSC and the DPS Annual Meeting have been held together.

A series of press briefings will be held daily during the lunch breaks from 12:15-13:15 CEST (10:15-11:15 UTC / 06:15-07:15 EDT) from Monday-Thursday.

Monday 16th September, 12:15-13:15 CEST (10:15-11:15 UTC / 06:15-07:15 EDT)
Cheops mission update

Michel Mayor (University of Geneva) – Exoplanets in context
Kate Isaak (European Space Agency) – Cheops mission status
Willy Benz (University of Bern) – Cheops – An exoplanet follow-up mission
Ravit Helled (University of Zurich) – Cheops contribution to open questions in (exo)planetary science
David Ehrenreich (University of Geneva) – Cheops in the context of other exoplanet missions

Tuesday 17th September, 12:15-13:15 CEST (10:15-11:15 UTC / 06:15-07:15 EDT)
Hayabusa2 & Lucy missions

Antonella Barucci (Observatoire de Paris) – Spectral variation on the surface of Ryugu
Makoto Yshikawa (ISAS/JAXA) – Hayabusa2 mission results: the impact experiment and the second touchdown
Franck Marchis (SETI Institute) – Occultation of Lucy mission target, Orus

Wednesday 18th September, 12:15-13:15 CEST (10:15-11:15 UTC / 06:15-07:15 EDT)
Future mission updates

Patrick Michel (Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, CNRS) – Asteroid Impact Deflection Assessment (AIDA) science update
Nancy Chabot (Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab) – NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission
Michael Küppers (European Space Astronomy Centre (ESA/ESAC) – Hera mission
Colin Wilson (University of Oxford) – EnVision mission to Venus
Kelly Geelen (European Space Agency) – Mars Sample Return plans and current status

Thursday 19th September, 12:15-13:15 CEST (10:15-11:15 UTC / 06:15-07:15 EDT)
Akatsuki mission results, 2020 Coordinated Venus Observations and science at Venus

Masato Nakamura (ISAS/JAXA) – Akatsuki mission update
Takeshi Horinouchi (Hokkaido University) – Cloud-top wind observations by Akatsuki
Takeshi Imamura (University of Tokyo) – Infrared observations at Venusian cloud tops
Yeon Joo Lee (Technical University of Berlin) – 2020 Coordinated Venus Observation Campaign
Valeria Mangano (INAF-IAPS) – Venus flybys of BepiColombo for the 2020 Coordinated Venus Observation Campaign
Michael Way (NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies) – Possible habitability of ancient Venus and Venus-like exoplanets

Live streams of all press briefings can be accessed at:
https://www.europlanet-society.org/livestream-of-press-briefings-at-epsc-dps-2019/

Submit questions during the briefing via the chat window, via Twitter @europlanetmedia, or email epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org.

The meeting hashtag is #EPSCDPS2019.
Details of the scientific sessions can be found at the official website (https://www.epsc-dps2019.eu/).

Media Registration

Media representatives are cordially invited to attend the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019. Press room facilities will be available for the duration of the conference from 9 am on Monday 16 September through to 3 pm on Friday 20 September. Media registration is free. Any bona fide media delegates can pre-register by e-mailing epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org
(advance registration is not essential but encouraged). Participants are strongly encouraged to book accommodation well in advance.
The EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 will follow the DPS embargo policy:
http://aas.org/media/press-releases/embargo-policy-aas-division-meetings

Contacts

Anita Heward
EPSC Press Officer
+44 7756 034243
anita.heward@europlanet-eu.org
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Livia Giacomini
EPSC Press Officer
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Adriana Postiglione
EPSC Press Officer
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Shantanu Naidu
DPS Press Officer
dpspress@aas.org

Pierre Bratschi
Press Officer, Exoplanet Team, University of Geneva
+41 22 379 23 54
pierre.bratschi@unige.ch

During the meeting, the EPSC-DPS Press Office can be contacted on +41 22 791 9617.

Further Information

Europlanet
The Europlanet Society, launched in September 2018, is an organization for individual and corporate members to promote the advancement of planetary science and related fields in Europe. The Society provides Europe’s planetary science community with a platform to exchange ideas and personnel, share research tools, data and facilities, define key science goals for the future, and engage stakeholders, policy makers and European citizens with planetary science. The Europlanet Society is the parent organisation of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC).

Europlanet Society website: www.europlanet-society.org
EPSC-DPSC 2019 Joint Meeting 2019 website: www.epsc-dps2019.eu

DPS
The Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS), founded in 1968, is the largest special-interest Division of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Members of the DPS study the bodies of our own solar system, from planets and moons to comets and asteroids, and all other solar-system objects and processes. With the discovery that planets exist around other stars, the DPS has expanded its scope to include the study of extrasolar planetary systems as well.

The AAS, established in 1899, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. The membership (approx. 7,500) also includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers, and others whose research interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising contemporary astronomy. The mission of the AAS is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe, which it achieves through publishing, meeting organization, education and outreach, and training and professional development.

EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019, 15-20 September – 2nd Media Announcement

EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019, 15-20 September – 2nd Media Announcement

The 2019 Joint Meeting (www.epsc-dps2019.eu) of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) of the Europlanet Society and the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) will take place at the Centre International de Conférences de Genève (CICG), Geneva, Switzerland, from Sunday 15 to Friday 20 September 2019. More than 1950 abstracts have been submitted and over 1500 planetary scientists from Europe, the US and around the world are expected to attend the meeting, making it one of the largest gatherings of planetary scientists held in Europe to date.

The EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 will be the third time that EPSC and the DPS Annual Meeting have been held together. The programme for 2019 covers the full spectrum of planetary science and technology across 58 oral sessions, 2 dedicated poster sessions, around 40 topical workshops and splinter sessions, as well as featured talks from EPSC and DPS prize winners.

An overview of the full programme is now online here: 

https://www.europlanet-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/EPSC-DPS-2019-session-overview.pdf

A series of press briefings will be held daily during the lunch breaks from 12:15-13:15 CEST (10:15-11:15 UTC / 06:15-07:15 EDT) from Monday-Friday. Tuesday’s briefings will feature the latest findings from the exploration of asteroids Bennu and Ryugu by the OSIRIS-Rex and Hayabusa2 space missions. Other days will highlight new findings about various planets, moons, and small bodies and have updates from the upcoming space missions CHEOPS and AIDA. Press notices on presentations that may be of special interest to the media will be circulated during the meeting. Details of press briefings and webcast access will be circulated closer to the time. The meeting hashtag is #EPSCDPS2019.

Details of the scientific sessions can be found at the official website (https://www.epsc-dps2019.eu/). 

MEDIA REGISTRATION

Media representatives are cordially invited to attend the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019. Press room facilities will be available for the duration of the conference from 9 am on Monday 16 September through to 3 pm on Friday 20 September. Media registration is free. Any bona fide media delegates can pre-register by e-mailing epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

(advance registration is not essential but encouraged). Participants are strongly encouraged to book accommodation well in advance.

The EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 will follow the DPS embargo policy:

http://aas.org/media/press-releases/embargo-policy-aas-division-meetings

CONTACTS

Anita Heward
EPSC Press Officer
+44 7756 034243
anita.heward@europlanet-eu.org
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

LiLivia Giacomini
EPSC Press Officer
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Shantanu Naidu
DPS Press Officer
dpspress@aas.org

During the meeting, the EPSC-DPS Press Office can be contacted on +41 22 791 9617.

FURTHER INFORMATION 

Europlanet 

The Europlanet Society, launched in September 2018, is an organization for individual and corporate members to promote the advancement of planetary science and related fields in Europe. The Society provides Europe’s planetary science community with a platform to exchange ideas and personnel, share research tools, data and facilities, define key science goals for the future, and engage stakeholders, policy makers and European citizens with planetary science. The Europlanet Society is the parent organisation of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC).

Europlanet Society website: www.europlanet-society.org

EPSC-DPSC 2019 Joint Meeting 2019 website: www.epsc-dps2019.eu

DPS

The Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS), founded in 1968, is the largest special-interest Division of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Members of the DPS study the bodies of our own solar system, from planets and moons to comets and asteroids, and all other solar-system objects and processes. With the discovery that planets exist around other stars, the DPS has expanded its scope to include the study of extrasolar planetary systems as well.

The AAS, established in 1899, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. The membership (approx. 7,500) also includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists,

engineers, and others whose research interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising contemporary astronomy. The mission of the AAS is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe, which it achieves through publishing, meeting organization, education and outreach, and training and professional development.

EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 – 1st Media Announcement

EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 – 1st Media Announcement

The 2019 Joint Meeting (www.epsc-dps2019.eu) of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) and the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) will take place at the Centre International de Conférences de Genève (CICG), Geneva, Switzerland, from Sunday 15 to Friday 20 September 2019. More than 1900 abstracts have been submitted and over 1500 planetary scientists from Europe, the US and around the world are expected to attend the meeting, making it one of the largest gatherings of planetary scientists held in Europe to date.

The EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 will be the third time that the DPS Annual Meeting and EPSC, which is the annual meeting of the Europlanet Society, have been held together. The programme for 2019 covers the full spectrum of planetary science and technology across 59 sessions and five programme groups: Terrestrial Planets; Outer Planet Systems; Missions, Instrumentation and Techniques; Small Bodies (comets, KBOs, rings, asteroids, meteorites, dust); Exoplanets and Origins; and Outreach, Diversity and Amateur Astronomy. The meeting program includes both oral and poster sessions, along with featured talks from EPSC and DPS prize winners.

Press notices on presentations that may be of special interest to the media will be circulated during the meeting. Details of press briefings and webcast access will be circulated closer to the time. The meeting hashtag is #EPSCDPS2019.

Details of the scientific sessions can be found at the official website (https://www.epsc-dps2019.eu/). The full programme will be published in early July.

Media Registration

Media representatives are cordially invited to attend the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019. Press room facilities will be available for the duration of the conference from 9 am on Monday 16 September through to 3 pm on Friday 20 September. Media registration is free. Any bona fide media delegates can pre-register by e-mailing epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org (advance registration is not essential but encouraged). Participants are strongly encouraged to book accommodation well in advance.

The EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 will follow the DPS embargo policy:
http://aas.org/media/press-releases/embargo-policy-aas-division-meetings

Media contacts
Anita Heward
EPSC Press Officer
+44 7756 034243
anita.heward@europlanet-eu.org
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Livia Giacomini
EPSC Press Officer
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Adriana Postiglione
EPSC Press Officer
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Shantanu Naidu
DPS Press Officer
dpspress@aas.org

Pierre Bratschi
Press Officer, Exoplanet Team, University of Geneva
+41 22 379 23 54
pierre.bratschi@unige.ch

Further Information

DPS
The Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS), founded in 1968, is the largest special-interest Division of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Members of the DPS study the bodies of our own solar system, from planets and moons to comets and asteroids, and all other solar-system objects and processes. With the discovery that planets exist around other stars, the DPS has expanded its scope to include the study of extrasolar planetary systems as well.

The AAS, established in 1899, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. The membership (approx. 7,500) also includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists,
engineers, and others whose research interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising contemporary astronomy. The mission of the AAS is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe, which it achieves through publishing, meeting organization, education and outreach, and training and professional development.

DPS website: https://dps.aas.org/

Europlanet
The Europlanet Society, launched in September 2018, is an organisation for individual and corporate members to promote the advancement of planetary science and related fields in Europe and builds on the heritage of Europlanet projects funded under the European Commission’s FP6, FP7 and Horizon 2020 programmes. The Society provides Europe’s planetary science community with a platform to exchange ideas and personnel, share research tools, data and facilities, define key science goals for the future, and engage stakeholders, policy makers and European citizens with planetary science. The Europlanet Society is the parent organisation of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC).

Europlanet Society website: www.europlanet-society.org
EPSC-DPSC 2019 Joint Meeting 2019 website: www.epsc-dps2019.eu

The Europlanet Media Centre issues media releases on the activities of Europlanet, the European Planetary Science Congress, and results from planetary science partner organisations. If you do not wish to receive press releases from the Europlanet Media Centre, please unsubscribe by replying to this message or sending an email to anita.heward@europlanet-eu.org. Anita Heward, Europlanet Press Officer, +44 7756 034243.

The Aarhus Mars Simulation Wind Tunnel featured as ESA Technology Image of the Week

The Aarhus Mars Simulation Wind Tunnel featured as ESA Technology Image of the Week

The Aarhus Mars Simulation Wind Tunnel, which is part of Europlanet 2020 RI’s programme to offer researchers transnational access to state-of-the-art planetary simulation facilities, has been featured as ESA’s ‘Technology Image of the Week‘:

Part of Aarhus University’s Mars Simulation Laboratory in Denmark, this wind tunnel has been specially designed to simulate the dusty surface of planet Mars.

Constructed within an 8-m long, 2.5-m wide pressure chamber, the Aarhus Mars Simulation Wind Tunnel has attracted researchers from all over Europe and the United States, to test instruments and equipment for a wide range of Mars missions, including ESA’s ExoMars and NASA’s Mars 2020 rovers.

The air pressure within the wind tunnel can be taken down to less than one hundredth of terrestrial sea level and the temperature reduced to as low as -170°C using liquid nitrogen. Fans then blow the scanty atmosphere that remains at up to 30 m/s, along with Mars-style dust.

Researchers can evaluate how items such as sensors, solar panels and mechanical parts stand up to the clingy, abrasive particles, sourced from Mars-like, oxide-rich soil found in central Denmark.

Europlanet 2020 RI has funded upgrades enabling particle tracking/image velocimetry, UV exposure as well as enhanced wind flow generation.

“We’ve been in operation all through this decade,” comments Jonathan Merrison of Aarhus University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, overseeing the facility. “We’re the only wind tunnel that not only reproduces the low pressure and low temperatures of Mars, but also allows the introduction of particulates of sand and dust.

“Probably about a third of the testing carried out here has been ExoMars related, then there have been users related to other Mars missions, as well as industrial testing of high altitude terrestrial equipment.

“We are also a member of the Europlanet network, a grouping of planetary scientists supported by the European Union, supporting the usage of various planetary simulation facilities and analogues.”

The Aarhus Mars Simulation Wind Tunnel was based on a smaller, earlier version, which remains in use. Its development was supported by ESA’s Technology Development Element programme for promising new technologies as well as the philanthropic Villum Kann Rasmussen Foundation.

Full story on the ESA website

Press release: Ultra-small microbes exhibit extreme survival skills in Ethiopia’s Mars-like wonderland

The first study of ultra-small bacteria living in the extreme environment of Ethiopia’s Dallol hot springs shows that life can thrive in conditions similar to those thought to have been found on the young planet Mars. An international team of researchers lead by Dr Felipe Gómez from Astrobiology Center in Spain (CAB (CSIC-INTA)) has found a strain of the Nanohaloarchaeles Order bacteria embedded in samples taken from a salt chimney deposited by supersaturated water at temperatures of 89 degrees Celsius and at the extremely acidic pH of 0.25.

The samples were collected during a field trip to the Dallol volcano and the Danakil Depression in northern Ethiopia in January 2017, which was funded by the Europlanet 2020 Research Infrastructure (RI). The results are published today in the journal, Scientific Reports.

“This is an exotic, multi-extreme environment, with organisms that need to love high temperature, high salt content and very low pH in order to survive,” said Dr Gómez.

Precipitation by superheated water saturated with various salts, including silver chloride, zinc iron sulphide, manganese dioxide and normal rock-salt, creates Dallol’s technicoloured landscape of yellows, reds, greens and blues. The team collected samples of the thin layers of salt deposits from the wall of a yellow chimney stack and a blue pool of water surrounding the outcrop.

The samples were transported in sterile, sealed vials to state-of-the-art facilities in Spain, where they were analysed using a range of techniques, including electron microscopy, chemical analysis and DNA sequencing. The team identified tiny, spherical structures within the salt samples that had a high carbon content, demonstrating an unambiguously biological origin.

The microorganisms are 50-500 nanometers in diameter — up to 20 times smaller than the average bacteria. In several cases, the microorganisms are surrounded by needle-shaped crystals, which suggests that the nanobacteria may play an active role in the salt deposits and the geochemical cycle at Dallol.

The Dallol volcano and geothermal area is one of the hottest places on Earth, with average annual temperatures of 36 to 38 degrees Celsius. It is located at the northern end of the Danakil Depression, which lies around 125m below sea level at the junction of three of the Earth’s lithospheric plates (Arabian, Nubian and Somalian) that are moving apart. Hydrothermal activity is fuelled by water that has been heated and enriched in gases by a shallow magma reservoir beneath the volcano. Dallol is surrounded by the wide Assale salt plain. The interaction between evaporated deposits and volcanism creates a unique and complex physical and chemical environment.

The unusual geochemistry of Dallol has close parallels to hydrothermal environments found on Mars, including the Gusev Crater, where NASA’s Spirit Mars Exploration Rover landed. Last month, the same international team published a review in the journal, Astrobiology, highlighting the importance of Dallol as a field analogue for Mars and for astrobiological studies. The paper is the culmination of a two-year process supported by Europlanet 2020 RI to characterise the Dallol site’s geology, mineralogy and biology in preparation for further study by planetary researchers.

“Deep investigation of the characteristics of this amazing site will improve our understanding of the limits of life on Earth an inform our search for life on Mars and elsewhere in the Universe,” said Barbara Cavalazzi of the University of Bologna, lead author of the review.

Further information

F. Gómez, B. Cavalazzi, N. Rodríguez, R. Amils, G. G. Ori, K. Olsson-Francis, C. Escudero, J. M. Martínez and H. Miruts, Ultra-small microorganisms in the polyextreme conditions of the Dallol volcano, Northern Afar, Ethiopia’ will be published in Scientific Reports on Monday the 27th of May 2019, 10:00 am London time / 05:00 am US Eastern Time, and is under strict embargo until this time.
After publication, this paper will be available at www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-44440-8

B. Cavalazzi, R. Barbieri, F. Gómez, B. Capaccioni, K. Olsson-Francis, M. Pondrelli, A.P. Rossi, K. Hickman-Lewis, A. Agangi, G. Gasparotto, M. Glamoclija, G.G. Ori, N. Rodriguez, and M. Hagos, ‘The Dallol Geothermal Area, Northern Afar (Ethiopia) – An Exceptional Planetary Field Analog on Earth’ is published in Astrobiology, Volume 19, Number 4 2019 by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. The paper is available at: https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/ast.2018.1926

Images

The sampling site. Samples were taken from the central yellow outcrop and water from the blue pool at the bottom of the chimney. Credit: Felipe Gomez/Europlanet 

brightly-coloured-salts

Montage: (A) the sampling site, (B) the small chimneys (temperature of water 90 ºC. (C) D9 sample from a small chimney in (A). (D-L) Scanning Electron Microscope and (M-O) Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope images of sample D9 showing the morphologies of ultra-small microorganisms entombed in the mineral layers. Credit: Gomez et al/Europlanet

Science Contacts

Dr Felipe Gómez Gómez
Centro de Astrobiología (INTA-CSIC)
Madrid, Spain
Tel: +34 91 520 6461
Email: gomezgf@cab.inta-csic.es

Prof Barbara Cavalazzi
Dipartimento di Scienze Biologiche, Geologiche e Ambientali
Università di Bologna,
Bologna, Italy
Tel: +39 051 20 9 4567
E-mail: barbara.cavalazzi@unibo.it

Media Contacts

Anita Heward
Communications Officer
Europlanet 2020 RI
Tel: +44 7756034243
Email: anita.heward@europlanet-eu.org

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 2020 Research Infrastructure (RI) has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 654208 to provide access to state-of-the-art research facilities across the European Research Area and a mechanism to coordinate Europe’s planetary science community. The project builds on a €2 million Framework 6 Coordination Action and €6 million Framework 7 Research Infrastructure funded by the European Commission. The Europlanet Society, launched in September 2018, promotes the advancement of planetary science and related fields in Europe.

Europlanet project website: www.europlanet-2020-ri.eu
Europlanet Society website: www.europlanet-society.org
Follow on Twitter via @europlanetmedia

Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement 2019 awarded to Dr Amelia Ortiz-Gil

Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement 2019 awarded to Dr Amelia Ortiz-Gil

The 2019 Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement with Planetary Science has been awarded to Dr Amelia Ortiz-Gil in recognition of her pioneering work in developing educational and outreach resources for people with a range of physical and cognitive special needs.

Dr Ortiz-Gil has more than 15 years’ experience working in outreach at the University of Valencia (Spain), and has led numerous initiatives to promote accessibility in astronomy, including the development of tactile 3D planetary globes of the Moon, Mars and Venus. In 2013, she led the development of “A Touch of the Universe”, the first project to create a kit of astronomical resources accessible to the blind and visually impaired. To date, 30 kits have been distributed to educators and teachers in South America, Asia and Africa and the resources are also available under a Creative Commons license at: https://astrokit.uv.es/

“I think the sky is there for everybody to enjoy and it is our moral duty as outreach professionals to help everybody to reach the stars,” said Dr Ortiz-Gil.

Dr Ortiz-Gil is currently the chair of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group on Astronomy for Equity and Inclusion and is National Outreach Coordinator for Spain. She is leading Spain’s celebrations of the IAU’s 100th anniversary in 2019 and has contributed to the IAU100 international traveling exhibition “Inspiring Stars” about inclusivity and accessibility in astronomy, from school to professional environments. During the International Year of Astronomy (IYA) 2009, Dr Ortiz-Gil led the development of “Hands in the Sky” planetarium show for the blind and coordinated the activities for people with disabilities in Spain.

Dr Pedro Russo, from Leiden University and former Global Coordinator of International Year of Astronomy 2009, said: “Dr Ortiz-Gil has been instrumental in making planetary science and astronomy more inclusive and diverse. Through her projects she managed to create innovative and award-wining resources and create a community of practitioners.”

The Europlanet Prize, which includes an award of 4000 Euros, will be presented during the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday 16th September.

Thilina Heenatigala, Earth-Life Science Institute (Japan), who nominated Dr Ortiz Gil for the Europlanet Prize, said, “Amelia brings passion, empathy, and enthusiasm into her work. Her collaborative approach gathers teams beyond boarders to work together.”

Dr Régis Courtin, Chair of the Europlanet Prize 2019 Judging Panel, said, “The panel, on behalf of Europlanet, is delighted to have this opportunity to recognise the important contribution of Amelia Ortiz-Gil to public engagement for astronomy and planetary science.”

Further information

Dr Amelia Ortiz-Gil discusses her inspirations, motivations and current projects in this interview on the Europlanet Society website: https://www.europlanet-society.org/interview-with-amelia-ortiz-gil-europlanet-prize-winner-2019/

“A Touch of The Universe” is a non-profit project for a tactile astronomy kit addressed to children with vision impairments. The first 30 kits were sent to educators and teachers in underdeveloped countries in Americas, Asia and Africa. The IAU’s Office of Astronomy for Development has funded an extension of the project, “A Touch of Venus”, that includes a 3D tactile Venus globe along with an activity book in Braille and video tutorials. https://astrokit.uv.es/

Images

Dr Amelia Ortiz-Gil with the 3D tactile model of Mars exhibited at the Science Museum “Principe Felipe” in Valencia. Credit: M. Pallardó

https://www.europlanet-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Amelia_Ortiz-Gil.jpg

Contacts

Dr Amelia Ortiz-Gil
Observatorio Astronómico – Universidad de Valencia
Spain
Tel. +34 96 354 3745
Email: amelia.ortiz@uv.es
https://observatori.uv.es
https://aorgil.blogs.uv.es

Media Contacts

Anita Heward
Europlanet 2020 RI Press Officer
Mobile: +44 (0)77 5603 4243
Email: anita.heward@europlanet-eu.org

Notes for Editors

About University of Valencia

The Universitat de València’s mission is to train competent professionals at European Professional Standard and to encourage prestigious research with international implications that will contribute to the development of our society. Through training and research, the UV will promote the field of dissemination of science and culture, and also promote the reaffirmation of the democratic values of the society in general, and in the Valencian society in particular.

University of Valencia website: https://www.uv.es

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 2020 Research Infrastructure (RI) has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 654208 to provide access to state-of-the-art research facilities across the European Research Area and a mechanism to coordinate Europe’s planetary science community. The project builds on a €2 million Framework 6 Coordination Action and €6 million Framework 7 Research Infrastructure funded by the European Commission.

Europlanet project website: www.europlanet-2020-ri.eu
Europlanet outreach website: www.europlanet-eu.org
Follow on Twitter via @europlanetmedia

The Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement

The Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement with Planetary Science aims to recognise achievements in engaging European citizens with planetary science and to raise the profile of outreach within the scientific community. Established by Europlanet in 2010, the Prize is awarded to individuals or groups who have developed innovative practices in planetary science communication and whose efforts have significantly contributed to a wider public engagement with planetary science.

For further information, see: http://www.europlanet-eu.org/outreach/prize/

ARIEL Data Challenge Series launched to build global community for exoplanet data solutions

ARIEL Data Challenge Series launched to build global community for exoplanet data solutions

Outcomes from ARIEL Data Challenges to be discussed at the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019

ARIEL, a mission to make the first large-scale survey of exoplanet atmospheres, has launched a global competition series to find innovative solutions for the interpretation and analysis of exoplanet data. The first ARIEL Data Challenge invites professional and amateur data scientists around the world to use Machine Learning (ML) to remove noise from exoplanet observations caused by starspots and by instrumentation.

ARIEL has been selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) as its next medium-class science mission and is due for launch in 2028. The ARIEL Data Challenge series was announced today at the UK Exoplanet Community Meeting (EXOM) 2019 in London.

ARIEL’s ability to extract spectral information on gases in exoplanets’ atmospheres will rely on precise knowledge of ‘light-curves’, which describe the amount of light blocked by a planet as it transits in front of its parent star. Dark spots on the stars’ surfaces and stray photons hitting instrumentation can contaminate this data. Automated solutions for improved analysis of light-curves through the ARIEL Machine Learning and Stellar Activity Challenge (MLSAC) will lead to better accuracy in the detection and characterisation of exoplanets – for current missions as well as future ARIEL observations.

Each team competing in MLSAC will be given 1000 simulated ARIEL observations of exoplanet transits, 700 of which are provided with ‘clean’ solutions to train ML algorithms. Participants will submit their predicted solutions for the remaining 300 examples. The effectiveness of the teams’ models will be ranked on the ARIEL Data Challenge leader-board.

“The aim of launching the ARIEL Data Challenges is to build a wide international collaboration from our own research community and from other data analysis fields to develop a diverse range of solutions to the complex computational problems faced by the mission,” said Prof Giovanna Tinetti of UCL, who is Principal Investigator of the ARIEL mission.

The ARIEL MLSAC contest has been selected as a Discovery Challenge by the European Conference on Machine Learning and Principles and Practice of Knowledge Discovery in Databases (ECMLPKDD). The closing date is Thursday 15th August. Results will be presented at ECMLPKDD in Würzburg from 16-20th September and at the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019, which takes place in Geneva during the same week.

A second ARIEL Data Challenge that focuses on the retrieval of spectra from simulations of cloudy and cloud-free super-Earth and hot-Jupiter data was also launched today. A further data analysis challenge to create pipelines for faster, more effective processing of the raw data gathered by the mission will be launched in June. Outcomes from all three ARIEL Data Challenges will be discussed at the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019.

“We hope that these three competitions will be the first of many and will help us build a community that will enable us to tackle increasingly difficult ARIEL Data Challenges in the future,” said Dr Nikos Nikolaou, who is leading MSLAC along with Dr Angelos Tsiaras, both also of the UCL Centre for Space Exoplanet Data.

Media contacts

Anita Heward
Press Officer, ARIEL
Press Officer, EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019
Mob: +44 (0)7756 034 243
a.heward@ucl.ac.uk
anita.heward@europlanet-eu.org

Notes for Editors

ARIEL (Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey)

ARIEL, a mission to answer fundamental questions about how planetary systems form and evolve, is a European Space Agency (ESA) medium-class science mission due for launch in 2028. During a 4-year mission, ARIEL will observe 1000 planets orbiting distant stars and make the first large-scale survey of the chemistry of exoplanet atmospheres. The ARIEL mission has been developed by a consortium of more than 60 institutes from 17 ESA member state countries, including UK, France, Italy, Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Hungary, Sweden, Czech Republic, Germany, Portugal, Norway and Estonia with an additional contribution from NASA in the USA currently under study. The UK ARIEL team at UCL, STFC RAL Space, Cardiff University, Oxford University, Mullard Space Science Laboratory, STFC RAL Technology Department and UK ATC is supported by the UK Space Agency.
https://ariel-spacemission.eu/

About UCL (University College London)

UCL was founded in 1826. We were the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to open up university education to those previously excluded from it, and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine.

We are among the world’s top universities, as reflected by performance in a range of international rankings and tables, and are committed to changing the world for the better.

Our community of over 41,500 students from 150 countries and over 12,500 staff pursues academic excellence, breaks boundaries and makes a positive impact on real world problems.
www.ucl.ac.uk| Follow us on Twitter @uclnews| Watch our YouTube channel YouTube.com/UCLTV

UKEXOM2019

The UK Exoplanet Community Meeting, jointly organised this year by Imperial College London, Queen Mary University of London and University College London, is being held at Imperial College London from 15-17 April 2019. https://ukexcon19.github.io/index.html

ECMLPPKDD

The European Conference on Machine Learning and Principles and Practice of Knowledge Discovery in Databases will take place in Würzburg, Germany, from the 16th to the 20th of September 2019. This event is the premier European machine learning and data mining conference and builds upon over 17 years of successful events and conferences held across Europe. http://www.ecmlpkdd2019.org/

EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019

The EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 is the third cooperation between the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC), organised by the Europlanet Society, and the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society. The goal of the joint meeting is to strengthen international scientific collaboration in all areas of planetary science. For more information, see: https://www.epsc-dps2019.eu/. Follow: #epsc-dps2019, @europlanetmedia, @DPSMeeting and @AAS_Press on Twitter.

European Science Foundation signs agreement to host the Europlanet Society in Strasbourg

European Science Foundation signs agreement to host the Europlanet Society in Strasbourg

The Europlanet Society was formally established yesterday at an official event in the City Hall of Strasbourg following the announcement made at the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) 2018 in Berlin. The Europlanet Society is a new membership organisation that aims to promote the advancement of planetary science in Europe and builds on the heritage of 15 years of Europlanet projects funded by the European Commission. The Society is open to both corporate and individual members.

At the event, the Europlanet Society and the European Science Foundation (ESF) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to seal their partnership and strengthen their collaboration in the field of planetary science. Henceforth the ESF will host the Executive Office of the Society in its headquarters in Strasbourg and oversee the day-to-day running of the Society.

Jean-Claude Worms, ESF Chief Executive, said “Since its establishment in 1974 the ESF has always been a strong supporter of astronomy and space science, by hosting the European Space Science Committee (ESSC) that had been created earlier that year under the auspices of the UK Royal Society, or creating the ESF’s Astronomy Standing Committee. Soon after, the ESF-ESSC and the US National Academies’ Space Science Board organized a series of joint workshops in Strasbourg and Heidelberg in 1980, 1982 and 1984, that shaped the way for the development of the major planetary science missions Cassini and Rosetta. I am particularly proud that ESF can continue today to actively support that community through the hosting of the Europlanet Society in our Headquarters in Strasbourg”.

From left to right: Dr Jean-Claude Worms, ESF Chief Executive, and Prof Nigel Mason, President of the Europlanet Society

“The launch of the Europlanet Society is a landmark moment in the development of European planetary Science community and recognises that Europe is a major player in space exploration both in our solar system and beyond. The Europlanet Society aims to build and foster the European planetary Science community (academic and industrial) and engaging Europe’s citizens with this inspirational area of international research” said Prof Nigel Mason, President of the Europlanet Society.

The Europlanet Society will engage with decision makers and solicit the views of its members to provide coordinated input into strategy papers and policy consultations. Within Europe , the Europlanet Society will serve as a means of bringing the planetary science community together and contributing to the further development of the field, as well as building collaborations with related organisations in Europe and worldwide. These collaborations were represented at the event by Prof Michael Bode, Special Representative of the European Astronomical Society to the European Union. In his speech he emphasized the importance of scientific societies in building communities the European Research Area.

A scientific address was contributed by keynote lecturer, Dr Gabriel Tobie, who as a CNRS Researcher at the University of Nantes investigates the geophysical and geodynamic processes in oceans. On this occasion, he gave a presentation on Icy moons of the Solar System and their potential for hosting life.

Keynote lecture by Dr Gabriel Tobie, CNRS Researcher at the University of Nantes

The Europlanet Society is overseen by an elected Executive Board and ten European Regional Hubs will help the Society to develop planetary science communities and networks at a regional and national level. The Society has also established committees to support diversity and early career researchers within the community. Additional working groups will develop links with industry, amateur astronomers, outreach and education providers, and policy makers.

 

Science Contacts

Nigel Mason
President of the Europlanet Society
nigel.mason@open.ac.uk

Emmanouil Detsis
Europlanet Society Executive Office
European Science Foundation
edetsis@esf.org

Media Contacts

Anita Heward
Europlanet/EPSC Communications Officer
anita.heward@europlanet-eu.org

Laura Alvarez
ESF Communications Officer
Europlanet Society Executive Office
media@europlanet-society.org

 

Notes for Editors

European Science Foundation

The European Science Foundation (ESF) was established in 1974 as an independent, non-governmental, non-profit organization committed to promoting the highest quality science in Europe, and to driving progress in research and innovation. Through Science Connect, its Expert Services division, the ESF provides quality scientific support based on a deep understanding of the scientific landscape, funding context and needs of the research community. With a portfolio of 31 high-profile European Commission funded projects since 2003, the ESF offers its expertise in project coordination and support to its members, customers and partners. It is also at the leading age of grant evaluation, with 4,500 research proposals evaluated since 2014, and a strong community of international experts that guarantee independence and transparency in the assessment process.

More information at www.esf.org

Europlanet Society

The Europlanet Society is a membership organisation which actively promotes the advancement of planetary science and related fields in Europe. The Society is open to individual and corporate members and builds on the heritage of 15 years of Europlanet projects funded by the European Commission. The Europlanet Society organises the annual European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC), the largest annual meeting on planetary science in Europe.

More information at www.europlanet-society.org

Europlanet

Since 2005, the Europlanet project has provided European’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 2020 Research Infrastructure (RI) is a €9.95 million project to address key scientific and technological challenges facing modern planetary science by providing open access to state-of-the-art data, models and facilities across the European Research Area. The project was launched on 1st September 2015 and has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 654208. Europlanet 2020 RI is led by the Open University, UK, and has 33 beneficiary institutions from 19 European countries.

More information at www.europlanet-2020-ri.eu

IAU astroEDU Selected as a Top-100 Education Initiative from Across the World

Europlanet educational partner recognized on 2019 HundrED  list

HundrED, a global education nonprofit organisation, researches inspiring innovations in education from around the world and annually selects the 100 most inspiring initiatives. Educational practices had to meet the criteria of being innovative, impactful and scalable to make it onto the list. For the 2019 list, HundrED has recognized IAU astroEDU among the top-100 innovations.

IAU astroEDU — a project from the International Astronomical Union — is an open-access platform that uses the familiar peer-review concept of scientific publications, to improve the standards of quality, visibility and accessibility of educational activities. This online platform is a place where educators can discover, review, change, and share astronomy- and space-related activities for primary and secondary education, and also have their activities peer-reviewed by professionals in education and science. Europlanet 2020 RI has developed three new collections of planetary-themed educational activities for astroEDU: Children’s Planetary Maps, The Planets and Their Moons, Asteroids, Comets and Meteors. Europlanet has also contributed updates to three further astroEDU collections: Explore our Moon, Our Star: the Sun and Exploring the Earth

Saku Tuominen, CEO of HundrED, said: “Spreading innovations such as astroEDU across borders can be a gamechanger for education worldwide. We will continue to encourage as many stakeholders as possible including schools, educators, administrators, students and organizations to get involved so that we can work towards a positive future.”

“It is not another web repository for educational resources but a mechanism for peer-reviewing and publishing high-quality astronomy education activities in an open-access way,” says Michael Fitzgerald (IAU astroEDU Editor-in-Chief; Edith Cowan University). The peer review involves input from both a content specialist (scientist) and a pedagogical expert (educator). This assures educators that the activities are both scientifically current and address the pedagogical and practical realities of the classroom. The activities are inquiry-based, covering open-ended inquiry, guided inquiry, structured inquiry, project-based learning, and fun learning, in line with skills needed in the 21st-century. “In this new era of education,” concludes Fitzgerald, “education is becoming more self-directed, and I look forward to developing versions that adapt to the students, not just to the teachers.”

Innovating across digital learning environments, IAU astroEDU also announces the release of new educational videos to explain the unknown Universe, spanning concepts of black holes, dark matter, and dark energy. The videos feature astronomers Thomas Russell (researcher at University of Amsterdam), Henk Hoekstra (professor at Leiden University) and Maria Cristina Fortuna (PhD candidate at Leiden University), and provide incisive explanations supporting primary and secondary school activities on the topic. Hoekstra adds, “IAU astroEDU is an excellent platform to bridge the gap between cutting-edge research and schools and we hope to see young minds engaged in solving the Universe’s most difficult mysteries.” The videos and activities are freely available on the IAU astroEDU platform.

More information

The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together more than 13 500 professional astronomers from more than 100 countries worldwide. Its mission is to promote and safeguard astronomy in all its aspects, including research, communication, education and development, through international cooperation. The IAU also serves as the internationally recognised authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and the surface features on them. Founded in 1919, the IAU is the world’s largest professional body for astronomers.

IAU astroEDU began in 2013 as an International Astronomical Union Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) project in collaboration with the Astronomy & Society Group at Leiden University and Las Cumbres Observatory. In the last 5 years, astroEDU was awarded the first Scientix Award for Best Resources in Science, Technology, Mathematics and Engineering and was nominated for Open Knowledge Foundation Award and also launched the first language version in Italian. This recognition also honours the astronomy education community, who contribute to IAU astroEDU. The development of the new IAU astroEDU activities and videos was funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

Links