IAU-Kavli Symposium, Durham University

IAU-Kavli Symposium, Durham University

An astrobiology symposium was convened last week at Durham University, UK. The conference brought together a multidisciplinary range of leading experts to discuss the search for extraterrestrial life, the emergence of life on Earth and how to communicate this exciting field with the media and wider public audience. Europlanet was represented through a crewed stand for the week.

The symposium was supported by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), The Kavli Foundation, Durham University, Breakthrough Initiatives and 4Ward Futures.

Group photo of participants in the IAU-Kavli Symposium held at Durham University in April 2024.
Group photo of participants in the IAU-Kavli Symposium held at Durham University in April 2024. Credit: Durham University.

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Early Career Event: AbGradEPEC’24 – 8th September 2024

Early Career Event: AbGradEPEC’24 – 8th September 2024

We are back! EPEC will once again team up with AbGradE for EPSC 2024, expanding network opportunities for early career scientists and students.

This year we invite you on Sunday, September 8th for a symposium at the Freie Universität comprising of contributed talks and a workshop on career development given by an ESA fellow and a former ESA intern. The event fee is 10 euros, details on payment will be sent to you in due course.

The deadline for registration is June 30th and can be accomplished with the following form.

The deadline for abstracts is June 1st. For contributed talks, please send a short abstract (max. 200 words) using the template to abgrade@eana-net.eu. We invite early careers to present the work that they either present as a poster at EPSC2024 or any other project not presented at EPSC2024. Letters of acceptance will be sent out by mid-June.

More information can be found at abgrade.eu/abgradepec24.

We look forward to meeting you all in Berlin for what promises to be our biggest joint event yet!

Issue 6 of the Europlanet Magazine is out now!

Issue 6 of the Europlanet Magazine is out now!

In this issue:

In Focus

round up of news from Europlanet and the planetary community, including:

Cover of issue 6 of the Europlanet Magazine.
Cover of Issue 6 of the Europlanet Magazine.

• New Board Members of the Europlanet Society
• New EPEC Co-Chairs
• Join us on Discord!
• DPS-EPSC Joint Meeting 2023
• EPSC in Berlin and Beyond!
• GMAP Winter School
• Europlanet at Space Tech Expo Europe
• European Space Weather Week
• 1st Europlanet Latin America Workshop
• Europlanet Committee Funding Scheme Results 2023
• Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement 2023
• Farinella Prize 2023
• Students as Planetary Defenders
• Blink of a Star
• Polish Experiments to Fly on ISS
• EXPLORE Apps for Lunar, Stellar & Galactic Research

Machine Learning for a Data Driven Era of Planetary Science 

Stavro Ivanovski (INAF-Trieste Astronomical Observatory, Italy), Angelo Pio Rossi (Constructor University, Germany), Jeronimo Bernard-Salas (ACRI-ST, France), and Anita Heward (DFET, UK) look at how Machine Learning (ML) is revolutionising planetary science

Planetary Perspectives: Meet the New Europlanet Society Board

This edition of Planetary Perspectives finds out more about interests, backgrounds and ambitions for the Europlanet Society of the members of the Executive Board elected and taking up new roles in November 2023. 

Supporting Astronomy in Ukraine

Gražina Tautvaišienė (Vilnius University, Lithuania), describes how a Europlanet programme is supporting Ukrainian colleagues to continue their research.

ERIM 2023: A New Kind of Europlanet Meeting 

Anita Heward (Chair of the ERIM Organising Committee and Europlanet Sustainability Committee) reports on how the Europlanet Research Infrastructure Meeting (ERIM) in Bratislava has helped to lay the foundations for a sustainable Europlanet. 

EPEC Annual Week: A Melting Pot of Ideas 

James McKevitt (University of Vienna, Austria and UCL, UK) reflects on the outcomes of the Europlanet Early Career event, EPEC Annual Week, held in Bratislava, Slovakia in June 2023. 

Bridging the Gap Between Policy and Science 

The Europlanet Policy Team reports on a policy workshop that took place as part of the Europlanet Research Infrastructure Meeting (ERIM) 2023 last June. 

The Ecological Footprint of Astronomy 

Thibaut Roger (University of Bern, Switzerland) reports on a session at ERIM to initiate a discussion about the ecological impact of astronomy and planetary research activities 

ERIM Goes to Schools 

Thibaut Roger (University of Bern, Switzerland) and Barbara Cavalazzi (University of Bologna, Italy) bring astrobiology and planetary science to schools in Bratislava.

Diving into the Heavens: The Solar System Scope Project 

Jozef Bodlak (Solar System Scope) tells the story behind the Solar System Scope – an app that takes users on an immersive journey with the aim of bringing the grandeur of space to the fingertips of people around the world. 

The Making of ‘The Making of Juice’ 

Maarten Roos-Serote (Lightcurve Films, Portugal) shares a unique view behind the scenes of the making of the Juice mission

Molėtai Magic 

Alejandro Luis García Muñoz reports on the Europlanet Summer School 2023 at the Molėtai Astronomical Observatory in Lithuania. 

Orionids Workshop 2023 

Miloš Obert, Chair of the Slovak Union of Astronomers, reports on the Orionids 2023 astro-camp on meteor observations. 

Dusting the Moon 

Karolien Lefever and Sylvain Ranvier (BIRA-IASB, Belgium) report on DUSTER, a project that gets to grips with lunar dust in preparation for future exploration missions. 

Commkit – The Dream of AI

Thibaut Roger (University of Bern, Switzerland) examines how AI can be useful for scientific outreach and communication, as well as the limitations.

The Last Word – Europlanet: A Page Turns 

Ann Carine Vandaele, President of the Europlanet Society, reflects on sustainability plans for Europlanet

EPSC Goes Live for Schools 2024

EPSC Goes Live for Schools 2024 / 4th edition

During the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) from 7-13 September 2024, Berlin will become a travelling hotspot for planetary scientists. EPSC Goes Live For Schools 2024 will brings participants into contact with classrooms in Berlin and beyond.

It’s been 4 years since the first edition of “EPSC goes live for schools”. Since the initial online edition, developed in the context of the pandemic lockdown, we have come a long way! In the intervening years we have managed to add on-site components, thus fulfilling the main aim of our partner, Lecturers Without Borders (Lewibo): give travelling scientists the opportunity to share their knowledge with the local community of schools, creating a temporary hotspot of sharing science with the local community!

In 2024, we are doing it again with our partners: LeWiBo, Europlanet Society, EPEC, DLR_School_Lab Berlin, MINToring program and Freie Universität Berlin. During the two weeks of 9th-20th September 2024 get ready to explore the planets of our solar system, to learn the latest in planetary science, but also to ask your questions to early career researchers in chats and more.

Would you like to participate in EPSC Goes Live for Schools 2024 as a scientist?

Tick the box to express interest when you submit your abstract for the meeting.

Would you like to join EPSC24 with your classroom?

If your school is located in Berlin you have the opportunity for a scientist to visit you and even host an art-workshop after the scientist’s visit and create a stop-motion movie on the spot (STEAM Lecture).

Some of the organised activities include:

“Cosmic interviews” where students meet researchers in person (on-site) | STOP-motion movie creation with berliner artist Carolina Boettner (on-site) | Presenting educational resources developed by Europlanet to teachers (online) | Asychronous Q&A in online chats on planetary science with early carreer researchers (online) | Planetary science webinars (online) | Arts contest #Inspiredbyotherworlds (online)

The Art Contest #inspiredbyotherworlds is already open for registration to students in all locations. Learn more on the Europlanet webpage.

Languages supported:

The events will be held in German or English.

Register here* and become part of a lively community this September!

*According to your location (in Berlin or elsewhere) we will send you the on-site or online programme of activities.

Winners of 2024 Best Iberian Thesis Prize Announced

Winners Announced of the 2024 Europlanet Early Career Prize for Best Iberian Thesis in Planetary Sciences

The Europlanet Iberian Hub is proud to announce the winners of the first planetary early-career prizes in Spain & Portugal: 

  • Abraham Zacut” Award: Best Iberian PhD Thesis in Planetary Sciences & Exploration
    • Winner: Jennifer Huidobro
    • Thesis Title : Exploring Martian and Lunar Geochemistry through the study of meteorites, analogs, laboratory simulation, and mission data analysis”.
    • Tutors: Juan Manuel Madariaga Mota and Julene Aramendia Gutiérrez
    • University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU)
  • Pedro Nunes” Award: Best Iberian Master’s Thesis in Planetary Sciences & Exploration
    • Winner: Vasco Cardoso
    • Thesis Title: Collisional Evolution of Jupiter Trojans
    • Tutors: Nuno Peixinho and Paula Benavidez
    • University of Coimbra and University of Alicante

Find out more

Join the VESPA 2024 Warsaw Workshop – Extended Deadline

Join the VESPA 2024 Warsaw Workshop – Extended Deadline for Open Call for Planetary Science Projects! 

We are delighted to extend an invitation to the scientific community for the VESPA 2024 open call, a unique opportunity to play a pivotal role in advancing Planetary Science and Solar System data accessibility. Aligned with the Europlanet 2024 RI programme, the VESPA activity is dedicated to creating an interoperable system grounded in the principles of Open Science. Here are three compelling reasons to consider participating in the VESPA 2024 open call:

  1. Amplify Your Impact: By joining the open call, you have the opportunity to contribute to the expansion of the VESPA interface. Up to 5 projects will be selected, allowing you to showcase your expertise and significantly enhance the data content available to the scientific community.
  2. Guidance and Collaboration: If your project is selected, you will be invited to a face-to-face workshop at the Space Research Centre Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, Poland, from April 22 to 26, 2024. This workshop will provide a unique opportunity to collaborate with experts and receive guidance in designing and setting up your project. Follow-up teleconferences in March/April 2024 will further support the finalization of the selected services.
  3. Contribute to Open Science: The VESPA initiative aligns with the principles of Open Science, fostering transparency, collaboration, and accessibility. By participating, you actively contribute to the development of an interoperable system that promotes the sharing of Planetary Science and Solar System data, advancing the field as a whole.

Don’t miss this chance to be at the forefront of cutting-edge research and make a lasting impact on Planetary Science. Submit your project proposal for the VESPA 2024 open call and be part of a community dedicated to advancing our understanding of the Solar System.

The deadline for proposals has been extended to 8 March 2024.

For more information and to submit your project proposal, visit the VESPA 2024 Open Call Website.

22-EPN3-126: In-Situ observations in support for VERITAS Venus analogue airborne radar campaign at Holuhraun and Djyngasandur, Iceland

22-EPN3-126: In-Situ observations in support for VERITAS Venus analogue airborne radar campaign at Holuhraun and Djyngasandur, Iceland

Solmaz Adeli and Stephen Patrick Garland (German Aerospace Center (DLR), Germany) to TA1 – Iceland Field Sites, MATIS
Dates of visit: 1-14 August 2023

The composition of lava fields on Venus and their alteration state is poorly understood. The Venus Emissivity Mapper (VEM)/VERITAS will observe the surface of Venus in the NIR range, which will allow studying the spectral characteristics of the Venusian surface, as well as the type of lava and likely alteration processes. To prepare for this mission, VERITAS organised a field campaign in Iceland in early August, 2023, which included in-situ NIR data acquisition by the DLR-Berlin team, enabled through this Europlanet funding. The main goals have been 1) to understand the in-situ NIR reflectance spectral response of Venus analogue material, 2) to acquire in-situ emittance of an active volcano in the NIR spectral range, 3) to collect samples to be analysed in the Planetary Spectroscopy Laboratory (PSL-DLR-Berlin) using reflectance and emittance spectroscopy methods, to create an emissivity spectral library, and 4) to compare the laboratory data with field measurements.

In order to collect a wide range of textures (from pahoehoe to a’a) and compositional variations of basaltic lava fields, in addition to different fumarolic deposits, the team visited and imaged the Holuhraun lava field, Askja lava field, and Fagradalsfjall area. These sites offer an age range from the altered 1960 Askja lava field to the 2023 eruption in Fagradalsfjall. The Askja and Holuhraun sites also offered variation in grain sizes and tefra and sand coverage, which affects the spectral behavior of the surface material in NIR. the team also collected about 60 kg of samples to be analysed in the Venus chamber of the PSL-DLR-Berlin.

Photos from the campaign can be found in the DLR Flickr Album: VERITAS – Expedition for NASA & ESA Missions to Venus:


The 16th European Space Conference: A Confluence of Ideas, Innovation, and Policy

Space Industry Leaders, Policy Makers, and Enthusiasts,

We are thrilled to extend an invitation to the 16th European Space Conference, the premier event in the space industry calendar. Scheduled for 23-24 January 2024, this pivotal conference will be held at the SQUARE Brussels, with an option to participate online for those unable to join us in person.

Dynamic Programme of the Conference – 23 January 2024:

The first day of the conference promises a rich tapestry of sessions, keynotes, and dialogues, meticulously designed to catalyze progress in European space policy and industry.

  1. Main Sessions: Delve into a series of comprehensive sessions covering a wide array of topics at the forefront of space technology and policy. These sessions are crafted to reflect the current challenges and opportunities in the space sector.
  2. Keynote Addresses: Be inspired by a lineup of distinguished speakers. These keynote addresses will be delivered by prominent figures in the space industry, offering profound insights into the future of space exploration and technology.
  3. One-to-One Dialogues: Witness engaging and insightful one-to-one dialogues between key personalities from various facets of the space domain. These intimate conversations are designed to provide deeper understanding and diverse perspectives on pressing space issues.
  4. Targeted Theme Sessions: Participate in specific sessions focusing on targeted themes. These discussions will feature key personalities from the European space domain, including high-level representatives from EU institutions, Member States, the European Space Agency, national space agencies, and the European industry.
  5. Networking Opportunities: Connect with industry peers, policy makers, and space enthusiasts. Exchange ideas, forge new partnerships, and collaborate with experts and innovators from across the globe.
  6. Exhibitions: Explore a range of exhibits showcasing cutting-edge space technologies and services, presented by leading companies and emerging startups in the space sector.

This year’s European Space Conference is not just a gathering; it’s a crucible where ideas meet innovation, and policy meets practice. Your presence will contribute significantly to shaping the European space policy landscape for years to come.

Registration and Additional Information:

For more details on the event, registration, speakers, and accommodations, please visit the website.

EXPLORE Career Profiles: Vix Southgate

EXPLORE Career Profiles

Name: Vix Southgate
EXPLORE Project Role: Communication Support
Professional Role and Affiliation: Creative Communication and VIP Manager, Vixen UK
Nationality: British
Current location: Chesterfield, UK

1. What did you want to be when you were 10?

Aged 10? That’s a good question, thinking back to where I was when I was 10; I was being bullied at junior school and, as a result, my interest in education was non-existent, my future hopes were merely to survive until I could move schools. So I dreamed of being famous – mainly because I saw this as being the complete opposite of where I was – the reality of fame is that celebrities are targeted even more by bullies (or trolls as they are now known), so I’m glad I changed that dream and didn’t take the role I was offered, as Vicky in Coronation Street, aged 15. I never really knew what I wanted to be – still don’t, but it’s been an amazing journey and fun adventure so far! 

2. What was your favourite subject at school?

I enjoyed art, technical drawing, languages and history, anything creative or information that was relevant to my life. 

3. What did you study at university? Why did you choose those topics and the places to study?

I did not do a degree, but left school after GCSES (aged 15) and went to Art College BTEC ND (National Diploma) in general art and design and photography; I then went on to a BTEC HND (Higher National Diploma) in Historic Decorative Crafts, because this course brought together all my passions, creativity through decorative arts, woodworking, photography, and technical drawing, as well as my love of history – in this case the history of art and architecture. To my surprise, it also had an element on Chemistry, in the form of paint technology, which I enjoyed, and even though my science results at GCSE were dreadful, I excelled at this, as it was relevant and interesting.

4. How did you get your first job? How many jobs have you had since?

My first job was a paper round aged 13, because I wanted to be able to buy my own Beano comics! My first proper job since leaving university was as a self-employed bespoke furniture maker, but I was making items for people who knew me and were helping me build a portfolio.  I would say my first BIG break was a year in, when I landed the job of painting ALL the new signs for the Emmerdale set, my Woolpack sign was on the show for 25 years (it was replace in Dec 2022 after the plot writers set fire to the Woolpack)! 

Occasionally, I had to supplement my income with temporary employment (which is fun and I am able to add new skills to my business skillset, which all helps with future employment) I’ve worked in most industries, and learned as much as I could with every job I have had.

5. What’s been the biggest piece of luck or ‘surprise twist’ you have had in your career to date?

Whilst there has been a huge element of luck throughout my career, that luck has always come along when I work hard to building a route to that moment that provides the big break. However, I think my transition into the space sector is the biggest surprise twist! I never had an interest in space, beyond supporting my Brother who has dedicated his life to Astrophysics. I thought of space as his universe, not mine, but then (after life-changing surgery which forced me to look at a new career) I found the technical/engineering side and fell in love with the passion of others in this sector.  

6. Have you had a mentor or person that inspired you? How did they help you?

For my initial career my mentors and inspirations were my tutors and the mastercraftsmen of history. In the space sector, I would say it is everyone I meet, everyone has an inspirational story to tell and it is the most collaborative and supportive industry I have worked in.

7. What are the main things you do each day?

Each day is different. There are the usual admin tasks, prioritising tasks, email, social media, etc and sometimes I am doing research for a book or article, or proofreading, editing, designing graphics or logos, or following-up regarding events or potential leads (future work). Networking and keeping in touch with my connections is also high on my every-day to do list. 

8. What do you like best about the work that you do and what do you like least?

I love the variety of jobs I do and the great potential to move in any direction I want to. I have the flexibility to follow new paths -and the unknown is so exciting, and terrifying!  
I dislike the uncertainty of where the next contract or payment is coming from, but over the decades I have found a formula that works for me ‘most of the time’! 

9. Do you have ambitions or things that you would like to do next?

I have so many dreams and projects that I have started and want to finish, but my main ambition is to continue to make a difference and support future generations. 

10. What advice would you give your 10-year-old self?

I would not change the advice I gave myself, aged 10, and that was that ‘you will be fine’! What helps me is; to focus on the positives of each day and leave the negativity behind. Surround yourself with people that support you and celebrate your successes with you (not those who try to bring you down). Every new day is a new opportunity to learn and succeed, but also ‘do not fear failure’ it is through failing that I have learned the most and found my greatest successes!

Quick CV

  • Academic qualifications
    • GCSEs: Maths, Eng Lang, Eng Lit, French, Spanish, History, Art, Chemistry, Physics.
    • BTEC ND: General Art & Design and A-Levels: Art
    • BTEC HND: Historic Decorative CraftsYHAFE: Teacher Training
  • Main or selected jobs to date: 
    • Self employed: (1996-present) This has included bespoke woodwork; stately home restoration; theatre, TV and film production design; painting and decorating; graphic design; signwriting; motorbike repair and custom paint jobs; church restoration and woodwork; antique restoration; author and illustrator of childrens books; publishing; editing; marketing and PR; creative communications; business and design consultancy; events coordination; VIP management and scheduling; et al.
    • Capital One: (2000-2002) Customer service; creative communications; magazine editor; incentives manager.

More EXPLORE Career Profiles

EXPLORE has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101004214.

16th European Space Conference, January 2024 – Registration is now open

The 16th European Space Conference will take place in Brussels, on 23-24 of january, 2024.

The conference will comprise several main sessions, punctuated by keynote addresses and one-to-one dialogues.

The focus will be placed on space economic security, autonomous access to space, the future of space connectivity, space commercialisation, the upcoming EU Space Law, the benefits of space services and applications supporting the Green Deal and SDGs.

In light of the unprecedented geopolitical context that Europe is facing, we will also debate the synergies between space and defence and the different ways forward for cooperation in the space domain with Europe’s partners across the world.

Specific sessions dedicated to targeted themes will host key personalities from the European space domain, including high-level representatives from EU institutionsMember States, the European Space Agency, national space agencies and the European industry.

To see the full programm and get your ticket, please follow the link.

Supporting UK and Hungarian Industry Collaborations

Supporting UK and Hungarian Industry Collaborations

Two overarching objectives of Europlanet are to foster industry-academic collaboration and to widen participation from under-represented states in Europe and around the world. Last week, there were opportunities to support both these aims at the UK Space Conference in Belfast and an event at the Hungarian Embassy in London.

At the UK Space Conference from 21-23 November, Europlanet shared a stand with the Hungarian Space Cluster (Hunspace). Over the course of the meeting, we met with many members of the UK and international community, in particular with early career researchers. We were particularly delighted to meet and take part in discussion sessions with the space clusters that represent the different space communities across the UK. Plenary sessions featured discussions on exploration of our Solar Sytem and the technical challenges involved.

On Friday 24 November, we were privileged to be hosted by the Hungarian Embassy in London for a meeting of the UK and Hungarian Space Communities. We were welcomed by Orsolya Ferencz, Ministerial Commissioner  Hungarian  Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and by the Hungarian Ambassador to London, Ferenc Kumin. Nigel Mason (Europlanet 2024 RI Coordinator) and Zsolt Fulop (Chair of the research infrastructure committee in Hungary) kicked off proceedings. Tomas Barzy (Admatis) gave an overview of the Hunspace cluster’s membership, remit and history. Presentations by Hungarian and UK space industry and organisations were followed by a round-table discussion. Many thanks to Gábor Takács-Carvalho and all the team at the Hungarian Embassy for their hospitality.

Full reports on both events will be published soon.

Europlanet at Space Tech Expo Europe

Europlanet at Space Tech Expo Europe

The Europlanet Society participated for the first time in the Space Tech Expo Europe, which took place in Germany (Bremen) between 14-16 November 2023. Attending the event provided an opportunity not only to strengthen the Society’s presence on the European space scene, but also to highlight its commitment to innovation and technological development in the planetary exploration sector.

During the event, Europlanet organized eleven business-to-business sessions, and eighty-one presentations at the stand to share know-how with participants. The Society also took the opportunity to unveil its new sustainability project (Europlanet Association), as well as to showcase its achievements, share knowledge and establish strategic partnerships with other key players in the space industry.

Europlanet’s presence at the Space Tech Expo Europe in Bremen was a great success, highlighting the society’s continued commitment to planetology exploration, exploitation and space innovation. This participation marks the start of a new era for Europlanet, opening the way to new opportunities, partnerships and achievements in the field of European planetology exploration and beyond.

Meet the New Board Members of the Europlanet Society

Meet the New Board Members of the Europlanet Society

The results of the elections of the Europlanet Society Executive Board were announced at the Europlanet General Assembly on Friday, 10 November. Eight new members of the Board were elected including a Vice-President, two Secretaries (co-position) and five new Board Members.

They join Ann Carine Vandaele, who takes up the mantle of President following her year as President-Elect (elected 2022), Treasurer Didier Moreau (elected 2021) and Vice President Angelo Pio Rossi (elected 2019 with a one year extended term to ensure that the turn-over of the Board is staggered).

Find out about their objectives and what they hope to achieve by serving on the Board of the Europlanet Society over the next four years.

Vice President

Stravro Ivanovski

Stavro Ivanovski, Europlanet Society Vice President
Stavro Ivanovski, Vice-President (2023-2027)

The birth of the Europlanet Society has been followed by the establishment of a Society with long-term activities and values based on inclusiveness, high quality science and outreach, and a sustainable structure open to planetary scientists, amateurs and industry. From my perspective, the Society is not only an idea and platform that represents and connects planetary scientists and enthusiasts, but it is much more – a space driven by sharing ideas, paving apath for early-career scientists and building a self-functioning scientific forum seeking for new (financial) opportunities to address today’s planetary paradigms.

I am a researcher at INAF – Astronomical Observatory of Trieste and Adjunct Professor at the University of Trieste. My research focuses on small bodies and planetary magnetospheres in the Solar System. I am involved in various planetary ESA and NASA missions (e.g. DART/LICIACube, Rosetta, BepiColombo, Comet Interceptor, Hera, Ariel). As a graduated actor with theatre experience, I have a strong commitment to public engagement and outreach as well.

I joined Europlanet in 2017 through its research infrastructure project and since then I have been closely connected with Europlanet. Since 2020, I have acted as the Co-Chair of the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) Scientific Organising Committee (SOC). I am serving as the Chair of Italian Europlanet Regional Hub. Also, while chairing the EPSC Outreach in 2020, I was one of the creators of the “InspiredByOtherWorlds” art contest that invites everybody to submit all kinds of artworks inspired by planetary science. Furthermore, my experience within Europlanet includes leading the Machine Learning Work Package and acting as the INAF deputy within the Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) project.

As Vice-President, I will dedicate my efforts:

  • to maintain the high level scientific content of EPSC and related activities; to strengthen the position of the Society in different countries, for example, Italy and under-represented country such as Balkan countries; 
  • to disseminate all current and future outreach initiatives; to improve the integration and visibility of Society within other scientific communities like astrochemistry and Origins of Life; 
  • last, but not least, to investigate the modern Artificial Intelligence techniques to support the Europlanet Society activities.

Secretary – Co-position

Federica Duras

Federica Duras, Europlanet Society Secretary
Federica Duras, Secretary (2023-2027)

As leader of the Outreach Working Group and as outreach officer in the Italian hub, I am thrilled to apply for the position of Secretary. This pivotal moment in Europlanet Society’s journey presents an exciting opportunity for fresh perspectives and new enthusiasm. In my role as the head of the Outreach Working Group, I have honed my organisational skills, ensuring seamless communication and collaboration among the team and among diverse teams. I could summarise my objectives for the Europlanet Society as follows:

  • Continue enhancing the Europlanet communication channels on a larger scale, fostering an interconnected Europlanet community with transparent information dissemination.
  • Building upon the success of the Outreach Working Group activities in the past years, I aspire to amplify Europlanet’s outreach efforts. This involves using modern communication tools and social media and exploring innovative ways to connect with a wider audience.
  • Strengthen the sense of unity and involvement within the Europlanet family. As I believe in the power of collective action, I am firmly convinced that through collaborative projects and shared initiatives we can engage our community also in this transition phase.

Edita Stonkute 

Edita Stonkute, Europlanet Society Secretary.
Edita Stonkute, Secretary (2023-2027)

I am working at the Institute of Theoretical Physics and Astronomy of Vilnius University in Vilnius, Lithuania as a senior researcher and an associate professor. My scientific interests are focused on detailed chemical composition studies of Galactic stars (including planet-hosts) using high-resolution spectra. I am a member of the Lithuanian Astronomical Society, the European Astronomical Society, the International Astronomical Union and Europlanet Society.

Here, at Europlanet I’m responsible for coordinating the Mentoring programme. I hope my dedicated time and work to the Society will be valuable and I would like to be nominated as a Secretary.

Board Members

Julia de León

Julia de Leon, Europlanet Society Board Member
Julia de Leon, Board Member (2023-2027)

I am a planetary scientist with 20 years of experience in the field. My main interest is the near-Earth asteroid population (NEAs) and its physical, compositional and dynamical properties. As a consequence, my work has been strongly connected to planetary defense. I am mainly an observational researcher, working with both ground-based and space-based data. I have recently been part of the EU project NEOROCKS, focused in the characterisation of NEAs and with the participation of 14 European institutions. In addition, I have participated in at least two observational campaigns to study potentially hazardous asteroids, coordinated by the International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN). Finally, I am/have been actively involved in several space missions to visit and study asteroids and other minor bodies (Rosetta, OSIRIS-REx, Hayabusa2, DART, Hera, MMX, DESTINY+, Lucy), led by the main space agencies (ESA, NASA, JAXA).

 All this overall research experience has intensified my personal conviction that planetary science is a collaborative activity, and that it evolves and improves thanks to all this global collaborative effort. I would be honored to serve on the Executive Board of the Europlanet Society. This is an experienced, diverse, large, and strong society with a solid base in Europe but a global view. I will put all my gained experience in international collaborations at the service of the European planetary science community to enhance and promote global collaboration.

Livia Giacomini

Livia Giacomini, Europlanet Society Executive Board Member
Livia Giacomini, Board Member (2019-2023, 2023-2027)

Over the past years on the Executive Board, I’ve had the privilege to actively contribute to our Society’s activities, focusing on education, communication and policy initiatives. As I seek to continue my journey with Europlanet, my vision is to strengthen Europlanet visibility, working for its sustainability in the long term, strengthening our ties with international entities and finding ways to make the Society grow. I would also ensure that Europlanet remains at the forefront of innovation in education of planetary science and in the broader scientific domain. As the editor-in-chief of astroEDU, the IAU platform for peer reviewed educational activities, I believe I have valuable experiences and connections to pursue this objective for our Society. I am dedicated to serving as a bridge, connecting our history with the future that the community envisions.

Melissa Mirino

Melissa Mirino, Europlanet Society Board Member.
Melissa Mirino, Board Member (2023-2027)

I am currently the Co-Chair of the Europlanet Early Career Network, and I have been previously involved with Europlanet by managing the EPEC Communication WG. As such, I have been very active on committee matters. During my involvement with the organization, I have been always active in supporting Early Careers by organizing and managing activities such as the “EPEC Profiles”, the “#PlanetaryScience4All video contest” and the EPEC Podcast “Stairway to Space” to allow the young professionals to showcase their contribution within the field of Planetary Science. Additionally, I have supported many other activities (Outreach, Annual Weeks, Europlanet Magazine, EPSC, EPEC annual report) by collaborating with the Europlanet communication team.

My objectives would be:

  1. rebuild the existing EPEC structure to make it a long-lasting organisation within Europlanet that supports early careers from any background,
  2. to be a direct link between the Early Careers who join our Network and the Europlanet Board, by representing their interests and needs into our Society. I strongly believe that the direct presence of an Early Career among the Europlanet Board Members would largely benefit Europlanet by hearing the Early Career voice.

Leigh Fletcher

Leigh Fletcher, Europlanet Society Executive Board Member
Leigh Fletcher, Board Member (2019-2023, 2023-2027)

I am a Professor of Planetary Science at the University of Leicester, specialising in the exploration of Giant Planet systems via a combination of ground-based observations, space telescopes, and visiting planetary spacecraft. I have been a member of the Europlanet community since the mid-2000s, and have always delighted in the opportunity offered by EPSC to meet with like-minded European planetary scientists. We have a thriving and diverse community, spanning the whole portfolio of planetary science, and the Europlanet Society provides a voice to our members, both across Europe and with the wider international community. It has been a pleasure to serve on the Board, and be a member of the Europlanet team, for the past four years. This experience has given me an insight into how the Society works, the key challenges it faces, and the opportunities that await in the years to come. The EPSC meetings are my topmost priority, being the premier networking and collaborative meeting for European planetary scientists. We should ensure these are held annually in Europe as a service to our community; costs are kept manageable to ensure wider representation; locations are kept accessible via public transportation with minimal carbon footprints; and virtual capabilities are maintained to improve access for those who may be unable to travel. We should continue to provide resources to our Early Career Network, particularly to enable exchanges of ideas and capabilities so that no one ever works in isolation. We should continue to use Europlanet as a conduit for interactions between amateur observers and professional planetary scientists. We should reintegrate the best of the European hubs back into the society, recognising the importance of local connections, but without stretching individual hubs too far. Above all, we should ensure that Europlanet activities and the thriving EPSC meetings are sustainable in the decades to come

Luca Montabone

Luca Montabone, Board Member (2023-2027)

An opportunity to do things together that would not be possible on their own. This is what I would like the Europlanet Society to represent for its members. The first time I heard about the concept of a European “virtual observatory” was at a meeting in London, when I was a postdoc at the University of Oxford, UK, after a PhD in Geophysics in Turin, Italy. Since then, several things have changed in the original EuroPlaNet as well as in my career, but the shared passion for planetary science and enthusiasm for new challenges have not changed! I worked for more than a decade on the physics of planetary atmospheres also at the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique/CNRS in Paris, France, at The Open University in Milton Keynes, UK, and at the Space Science Institute in Boulder (CO), USA. Over the past few years, I have created a bridge between the academic and industry facets of planetary science in Europe. I am now running my own small enterprise in South-East France, collaborating with several international research institutions and ESA in satellite data analysis, modelling, and mission concepts for the atmosphere of Mars. The new reality of the Europlanet Society requires a variety of experiences and ideas to support the planetary science community in Europe and to build capacity elsewhere, all in a self-sustainable way. It now seems the right time for me to share my experience and ideas within the Executive Board and the Society at large. As one of the Board members, I will naturally focus my attention on the relations between the Society and the private sector (companies working on hardware, software, data analysis, etc.). Given my aptitude for training and public outreach, I will also look closely at the developments in these areas. Because policy can open up thriving directions for the Society, I would like to take on the challenge to engage with policy makers (European institutions, space agencies, etc.). However, I believe that only a community approach can succeed in moving the Europlanet Society towards its goal of becoming a self-sustained reference for the planetary science community itself, in Europe and beyond. Therefore, strengthening the role of the regional hubs, widening participation, inclusion and diversity are all key areas which I am particularly keen on. As for the other strategic areas (such as early career, research infrastructure, etc.), I am eager to work with Board members who will focus on them.

2023 Farinella Prize Awarded to Federica Spoto and Diego Turrini

2023 Farinella Prize Awarded to Federica Spoto and Diego Turrini

Europlanet Society Press Release

Dr Federica Spoto, of the Minor Planet Centre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, and Dr Diego Turrini, of the National Institute for Astrophysics – Turin Astrophysical Observatory (INAF-OATo) in Italy, have been awarded jointly the 2023 Paolo Farinella Prize for their outstanding contributions to the field “From superbolides to meteorites: physics and dynamics of small planetary impactors”. The award ceremony will take place during the 55th Annual Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) meeting joint with the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) in San Antonio, Texas, and online and will be followed by prize lectures by each of the winners.

The annual prize was established in 2010 to honour the memory of the Italian scientist Paolo Farinella (1953-2000). Each year, the prize acknowledges an outstanding researcher not older than 47 years (the age of Prof Farinella when he passed away) who has achieved important results in one of Prof Farinella’s fields of work. Each edition of the prize focuses on a different research area and, in 2023, the topic was chosen to highlight recent advances in knowledge about small-size Near-Earth Object (NEO) populations. The award is supported by the Europlanet Society.

Ettore Perozzi, Senior Scientist at the Science Directorate of the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and Chair of the 2023 Paolo Farinella Committee, said on behalf of the Prize Committee: “The work of Diego Turrini has provided deep insights into the collisional processes occurring early in the history of planetary systems, while Federica Spoto has paved the way to quickly identify and reliably compute the orbit of imminent impactors of the Earth. That is the beginning and the end of the long journey of meteorites.”

Dr Spoto’s research focuses on advanced methods to determine the orbits of asteroids and
the age of asteroid families. She led an international team of experts responsible for the validation of the Gaia Solar System objects, a necessary step to ensure the quality of the data in every release. Throughout her career, Dr Spoto has tackled the challenge of efficiently determining the orbits of ‘imminent impactors’ – newly discovered objects approaching our planet that, depending on their size and composition, could result in meteorites reaching the ground and potentially causing significant damage.

“Federica’s outstanding contribution has been twofold: addressing from a theoretical point of view a highly complex chaotic orbit determination problem, and translating the results into practical algorithms for responding to the needs of the operational systems for planetary defence,” said Dr Perozzi.

Through theoretical work, modelling and observations, Dr Turrini has investigated the dynamical and collisional evolution of Solar System bodies, in particular during the early phases of planetary formation. His work highlights the role small planetary impactors play in shaping planetary bodies and their surfaces through collisional erosion and contaminating their chemical composition. He led the development of the ‘Jovian Early Bombardment’ scenario, which describes how the formation and migration of Jupiter triggered a primordial bombardment in the asteroid belt, and the search for its signatures in protoplanetary disks hosting newly formed giant planets. As a scientific team member of the visible and infrared imaging spectrometer (VIR) instrument on the Dawn mission, Dr Turrini combined impact contamination models with in-situ measurements of Vesta and meteoritic data to explain the abundance of dark, carbon-rich material, as well as the unexpected presence of water and olivine deposits, on the surface of Vesta, the second biggest asteroid in the Solar System. These methods developed to study the contamination of asteroids are now providing the basis for investigating how small impactors shape the atmospheric composition of giant exoplanets.

“Diego’s impressive list of participation in high-level committees, such as the ESA Solar System and Exploration Working Group (SSEWG), and his involvement in past, present and future space missions, including Dawn, Juno, Ariel, JUICE and BepiColombo, witness the appreciation of his work by the international astronomical and space science communities,” said Dr Perozzi.

Dr Spoto obtained her academic degrees in celestial mechanics at the Department of Mathematics of the University of Pisa, Italy. She then moved to France to take up post-doctoral positions at Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur and at the Institut de Mécanique Céleste et de Calcul des Éphémérides (IMCCE) in Paris. In February 2020, she joined the IAU Minor Planet Centre where she now holds the role of project scientist.

Dr Turrini obtained a Master’s degree in physics at the University of Milano Bicocca and a PhD in space science and technology at the Center of Studies and Activities for Space (CISAS) “Giuseppe Colombo” at the University of Padova, Italy. He then moved to INAF for his post-doctoral studies and is currently a researcher at INAF-OATo, on transfer from the INAF – Institute for Space Astrophysics and Planetology (INAF-IAPS) in Rome.

About the Paolo Farinella Prize

The Paolo Farinella Prize (https://www.europlanet-society.org/paolo-farinella-prize/) was established to honour the memory and the outstanding figure of Paolo Farinella (1953-2000), an extraordinary scientist and person. The prize is awarded 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 their overall research results in a chosen field. Candidates must participate in international and interdisciplinary collaborations, and be 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 and supported by the University of Pisa, ISTI/CNR and by IAPS-INAF (Rome), and first awarded in 2011.

The 2023 Paolo Farinella Prize Committee:

Ettore Perozzi (ASI, Italy), Chair
Alceste Bonanos (National Observatory of Athens, Greece)
Daniele Gardiol (INAF – Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica, Italy)
Maria Hajdukova (Astronomical Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences)
Robert Jedicke (University of Hawaii, USA)
Peter Jenniskens (SETI Institute, USA)

Paolo Farinella Prize winners:

2011: William Bottke (Physics and dynamics of small Solar System bodies)
2012: John Chambers (Formation and early evolution of the Solar System)
2013: Patrick Michel (Collisional processes in the Solar System)
2014: David Vokrouhlicky (Understanding of the dynamics and physics of Solar System, including how pressure from solar radiation affects the orbits of both asteroids and artificial satellites)
2015: Nicolas Biver (Molecular and isotopic composition of cometary volatiles by means of submillimetre and millimetre ground and space observations)
2016: Kleomenis Tsiganis (Studies of the applications of celestial mechanics to the dynamics of planetary systems, including the development of the Nice model)
2017: Simone Marchi (Understanding the complex problems related to the impact history and physical evolution of the inner Solar System, including the Moon)
2018: Francis Nimmo (Understanding of the internal structure and evolution of icy bodies in the Solar System and the resulting influence on their surface processes)
2019: Scott Sheppard and Chad Trujillo (Observational characterisation of the Kuiper belt and the Neptune-trojan population)
2020: Jonathan Fortney and Heather Knutson (Understanding of the structure, evolution and atmospheric dynamics of giant planets)
2021: Diana Valencia and Lena Noack (Understanding of the interior structure and dynamics of terrestrial and super-Earth exoplanets)
2022: Julie Castillo-Rogez and Martin Jutzi (Asteroids: Physics, Dynamics, Modelling and Observations)


Farinella Prize winner 2023: Federica Spoto.
Dr Federica Spoto, joint winner of the Farinella Prize 2023. Credit: Jonathan Sullivan.

Download the full resolution image:

Farinella Prize winner 2023: Diego Turrini.
Dr Diego Turrini, joint winner of the Farinella Prize 2023. Credit: Danae Polychroni

Download the full resolution image:

Science Contacts

Dr Federica Spoto
Minor Planet Center
Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian
Cambridge (MA)
Phone: +1 (617) 495-7170

Dr Diego Turrini
National Institute for Astrophysics
Turin Astrophysical Observatory (INAF-OATo)
Phone: +39 011 8101933

Media Contact

Anita Heward
Press Officer
Europlanet Society
Phone: +44 7756 034243

About Europlanet

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

The Europlanet Society (www.europlanet-society.org) promotes the advancement of European planetary science and related fields for the benefit of the community and is open to individual and organisational members. The Society’s aims are:
• To expand and support a diverse and inclusive planetary community across Europe through the activities of its 10 Regional Hubs.
• To build the profile of the sector through outreach, education and policy activities
• To underpin the key role Europe plays in planetary science through developing links at a national and international level.

Results of Europlanet Society Committee Funding Scheme 2023

Results of Europlanet Society Committee Funding Scheme 2023

The results have been announced of a call by the Europlanet Society to support funding proposals of €1000 to €5000 from its Regional Hubs, Committees and Working Groups and the Society Membership. Five projects have been supported in 2023:

French Hub proposal: Careers workshop at French Planetary Science Congress (€4900)

The French Planetary Science Congress will be held in Nantes in July 2024 conjointly with the French Astrobiology Society (SFE) and National Programme for Planetary Science (PNP), where two days will be devoted to astrobiology topics and two others to planetary science more generally. Funding was requested from the Europlanet Society Committee Funding Scheme to support a one-day workshop devoted to early career researchers focussed on careers in planetary science, divided into talks from industry and academia about their diverse career paths, and workshops on topics such as “CV writing for industry”, “writing a good research grant”, a poster session in the afternoon will allow attendees to exchange with the invited speakers and other researchers at the conference. The whole event will be in French to maximise interaction between the masters and PhD students and the presenters.

Spain Portugal Hub proposal: Pro-Am occultations campaigns with a portable telescope (€3300)

Occultations of stars by small Solar System bodies provide relevant information about their atmosphere, rings, satellites and morphology. The most interesting results are usually obtained when several different chords of the same occultation event are gathered. Therefore, it is usually necessary to deploy different instruments across the predicted shadow path in order to maximise the probability of capturing relevant data.

Several members of the Sociedad Astronómica Granadina (an amateur astronomy group from the south of Spain) have collaborated in dozens of different ProAm occultation campaigns promoted by the IAA and other organizations, specially those involving transneptunian objects, Jupiter trojans and NEOs. Those campaigns usually involve traveling (sometimes thousands of kilometers) in order to correctly position the telescopes and auxiliary gear. To continue and improve collaborations, funding was requested from the Europlanet Society Committee Funding Scheme to acquire a more powerful (but still portable) telescope to obtain occultation data of fainter stars.

Central Europe Hub proposal: Orionids 2023 (€1400)

Funding was requested from the Europlanet Society Committee Funding Scheme to support “Orionids 2023”, a meteor astro-camp. During a weekend workshop that will take place in Banská Štiavnica, in central Slovakia, different astrophysicist and astronomers amateur will provide lectures about how to observe meteor showers and secondary meteor showers in a classical traditional way. This seminar will teach the participants how to be prepared theoretically for such an observation, what methodology (IMO) to use and how to practically observe a meteor shower in general. Afterwards, it will be given the knowledge of submitting the results in the IMO database. Another aim of the project is to teach a new lecturing team in order to maintain visual observation discipline, also nowadays in modern digital times. The plan for the future is to organize the observation of meteor showers at least 3 times a year. The best possibilities would be in Slovak dark sky parks or another convenient location. The expected number of participants of the Orionids 2023 is 12 with 4 lecturers. The first Orionids astro-camp is planned in Slovakia but international participants are also welcome

Central Europe Hub: Variable stars and exoplanet research meeting – support for international audience (€3060)

The Czech Variable stars meeting is traditionally organised by the Czech Astronomical Society, Variable stars and exoplanet section, association of professional and amateur astronomers predominantly from the Czech Republic, but also members from other european countries. This meeting has a long history, the last 54th meeting took place in November 2022 in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Average audience is between 50 and 100 participants, including online audience. Various topics with focus on pro-am research of variable stars and exoplanets are discussed. With the incresing number of international collaboration, there is a rise of international audience of the meeting. Last year’s meeting was also held in hybrid form. Funding was requested from the Europlanet Society to broaden focus of the meeting to the Central European international audience by formally dividing the meeting to consecutive international and Czech/Slovak sections, advertising the meeting on the European level and providing support for in-person participants – amateur astronomers and students. The support will comprise travel bursaries and support with translation of presentations and other material into English. Since 2021 there is also an student section in the form of a competition organised, where also students from other countries can participate.

Ireland-UK Hub: Europlanet Early-Career Networking at the British Planetary Science Conference 2024 (€4380)

The British Planetary Science Conference (BPSC) 2024 has been awarded by the UK Planetary Forum to Space Park Leicester (SPL). It will be held in June 2024 at Space Park and the adjacent National Space Centre in Leicester. Europlanet sponsorship was requested to raise awareness of society membership benefits in the UK. BPSC will start with a 1-day workshop for those new to the space and planetary science community, where experienced SPL engineers and project managers will lead examples of how space instruments and missions are developed. This will help facilitate wider access to new space exploration initiatives in the planetary and space science community, and is particularly focussed on connecting early-career researchers to new opportunities. The main 3-day part of the conference will consist of oral and poster sessions reflecting the range of topical planetary and space science activities in the UK, including results from sample return missions, Mars exploration, the Gas and Ice Giants, meteorites, Mercury. The main conference will also have an emphasis on careers and EDI, with input on careers in the space industry. On the final day will include a community consultation day with UKSA, STFC, and other interested stakeholders like Europlanet.

South East Europe Hub: Terrestrial Analogues for Solar System Studies Conference (€5000)

Co-funding was requested from the Europlanet Society Committee Funding Scheme for an already designed planetary-themed conference to be held in Greece, in the island of Milos, during the summer of 2024. The conference has both scientific and policy aspects, and aims to bring together planetary scientists from all over the world, with an emphasis on students and early career participants from Southeastern Europe, in a location of great relevance and interest for planetary geologic topics – the island of Milos. This region has experienced young volcanism and tectonism (Mars, Pluto), has undergone atmospheric shaping of volcanic deposits, and carving into yardangs (Mars, Titan, Venus, Pluto), and has current hydrothermal and fumarolic activity (Venus, Io, exoplanets). The conference will offer a combination of lectures, science discussions and filed trips, as well as policy and industry related discussions in a dedicated session. Planetary scientists with experience in field geology will interact with those who typically do modeling or laboratory studies, furthering the cross communication of topics and improving the research approach for all participants to lead to a better understanding.

EPEC: Early Career Activities at DPS-EPSC 2023 (€900)

EPEC has organised a programme of events for early career researchers at the joint DPS-EPSC meeting in October 2023 in San Antonio, Texas. The planned activities include a short course on mental health, a social event, mentoring for first-time attendees and the EPEC general assembly. In addition, EPEC will have a booth to help early careers find their way around and inform them about our work.

Find out more about the Committee Funding Scheme.

Europlanet Summer School 2023 is Underway

Europlanet Summer School 2023 is Underway

The Europlanet Summer School 2023 is being hosted by Vilnius University’s Moletai Astronomical Observatory (MAO) in Lithuania from 8-18 August.

For the first time, the School is taking place in hybrid format, with 20 participants from 10 countries attending on site and up to 30 people following online. The participants include early careers (right the way from high-school to BSc, MSc, PhD and postdoc) and amateur astronomers.

During the School, participants will gain hands-on experience observing with MAO’s 1.65m and 35/51cm-telescopes (weather permitting!) and training in analysing exoplanet transits, stellar spectra, atmospheric parameters and variability data. The programme includes training modules in communication skills and engaging with schools, as well as lectures on space and ground-based observations and machine learning.

Deividas Dudulis (high-school student and astrophotographer), who is participating in the Summer School, will be posting photos here.

Soapbox Science 2023: Women Scientists Take the Floor at the Heart of Brussels

Soapbox Science 2023: Women Scientists Take the Floor at the Heart of Brussels

This Saturday afternoon, 12 women scientists in Belgium will be bringing their science to the public during the Soapbox Science Brussels event.

Soapbox Science is a science outreach initiative that aims to promote the visibility of women and non-binary scientists and their research by bringing them on the streets to reach the public. Soapbox Science events transform public areas in discussion forums based on Hyde Park’s Speaker’s Corner where scientists, on their soapboxes, talk about their research to the people passing by.

Details: Saturday, 24 June 2023, from 2-5 pm, at the Carrefour de l’Europe/Europakruispunt, in front of the Central Station. 

EPEC Profiles – Giacomo Nodjoumi

EPEC Profiles Giacomo Nodjoumi

In this series from the EPEC Communication Working Group, we meet members of the Europlanet Early Career (EPEC) community and find out more about their experiences and aspirations.

Giacomo Nodjoumi is a Ph.D. student in Planetary Geology at Constructor University Bremen, DE

Giacomo Nodjoumi is from Italy, where he obtained degrees in Geology and Engineering Geology. Currently, he is pursuing a Ph.D. at Constructor University Bremen. His unique blend of interests in informatics and geology has led him to describe himself as an atypical geologist.

His Ph.D. project consists of landforms detection and mapping through Deep Learning Computer Vision on Mars and the Moon within the Europlanet RI 2024. His primary targets of interest are pits and skylights, peculiar surface morphologies that might grant access to cavities! To investigate further the presence of these cavities, he is also looking at the subsurface of Mars using orbital radar MARSIS and SHARAD data. He is also co-leading the development of newer scientific data applications for lunar exploration, L-EXPLO, and L-HEX, within the EXPLORE project (https://explore-platform.eu/space-browser).

During EPSC 2022, Giacomo and his colleagues launched the 1st EXPLORE Lunar Data Challenges. Two competitions about Lunar exploration and data exploitation. The former focused on Machine Learning to involve researchers and professionals of planetary and computer sciences in mapping landforms on a region of the Moon. The latter is a didactical challenge, to involve classrooms and increase their knowledge about the Moon and how Machine Learning could improve our understanding of the Moon (https://exploredatachallenges.space/).

In 2022, Giacomo participated in the Analog-1 experiment on Mount Etna (Italy), during which the European Space Agency (ESA) conducted tests and field operations with the Interact rover.

I heard about EPEC at the beginning of my Ph.D. but I have realized why EPEC is undoubtedly a great opportunity for early career scientists only during in-person EPSC 2022.


Giacomo Nodjoumi. Image credit: Giacomo Nodjoumi.

If you are an Early Career member of the Europlanet Society and would like to be featured in an EPEC Profile, find out more about how to submit your profile.

See all the EPEC Profiles.

20-EPN2-097: Venus-Temperature Emissivity Experiments on Pure Minerals

20-EPN2-097: Venus-Temperature Emissivity Experiments on Pure Minerals

Visit by Melinda Darby Dyar, Mount Holyoke College (USA), to TA2 Facility 5 – DLR Planetary Spectroscopy Laboratory (Germany).
Dates of visit: 14 – 20 October 2022

Report Summary:

This project supports a collaboration between the US and personnel at the Planetary Spectroscopy lab in DLR Berlin to understand the interrelationships among high temperature emissivity and high or ambient temperature reflectance measurements of rocks and minerals present on the surfaces of rocky bodies (planets, moons, and asteroids). We are investigating the extent to which spectral features in the near-IR wavelength region shift and change in intensity as a function of temperature and measurements type. These changes are easiest to understand when comparisons can be made for single mineral species.

With Europlanet support, we acquired hemispherical and bidirectional reflectance and emissivity spectra of planetary-analog minerals at the PSL at DLR Berlin. Minerals studied included pyroxene, feldspar, olivine, sulfates, and calcite minerals. Significant differences between hemispherical and biconical reflectance data were observed; as we write up the results, we will explore the underlying physical characteristics of each mineral group and relate them to the magnitude of those changes. We also observed significant differences between bidirectional reflectance spectra and emissivity results in preliminary results. This outcome suggests that laboratories seeking to make Venus-relevant measurements cannot draw conclusions about spectral intensities on the basis of bidirectional data.

Get involved the Europlanet Northern Regional Hub Activities

Get involved the Europlanet Northern Regional Hub Activities

The Europlanet Northern Regional Hub will be at the Europlanet Research Infrastructure Meeting (ERIM) 2023 in Bratislava from 19-23 June.

The Europlanet Society Northern Hub (Left to right): Stefanus Schroder (Sweden), Erika Kaufmann (Sweden), Maria Hieta (Finland), Maria Genzer (Finland), Harri Haukka (Finland, Chair), Grazina Tautvaisiene (Lithuania, Vice Chair ), Veikko Makela (Finland), Jonathan P. Merrison (Denmark, former Chair)m Edita Stonkute (Lithuania), Heleri Ramler (Estonia), Stas Barabash (Sweden) and Yoshifumi Futaana (Sweden).

The Northern Europe Hub was established in 2019 to promote planetary science and related fields for the benefit of the Danish, Estonian, Finnish, Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Swedish and wider European community, within the Europlanet Society, however the pandemic situation suppressed activities very much.

The first face-to-face Europlanet Society Northern Europe Hub meeting took place on the 21st of September, 2022, during the Europlanet Science Congress in Granada.

Now, with the new Chair Harri Haukka (Finland) and Vice Chair Grazina Tautvaisiene (Lithuania) as well as with advises of the former Chair Jonathan P. Merrison (Denmark), the hub is organising an amateur training workshop in Spring of 2023 and other activities. New members are welcome to join the Europlanet Society and its Northern Europe Hub !

Asteroid Research Training Workshop (Hybrid)

Asteroid Research Training Workshop (Hybrid)

The Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) project and the Tartu Observatory of the University of Tartu are pleased to announce the international training workshop “Asteroid Research”. The aim of the workshop is to give participants a thorough, multidisciplinary introduction to the ground-based and space observations of asteroids. Participants will be given hands-on experience in CCD photometry and spectroscopy of asteroids using the telescopes of the Tartu Observatory and in analysing the observational data. The hands-on sessions will be accompanied by lectures from leading astronomers. The participants will also be trained in writing and submitting observing proposals to different facilities of the Europlanet Telescope Network, mentorship possibilities between professional astronomers and amateurs will be introduced. 

The course is open to PhD and master students, early career scientists, and amateur astronomers from the Danish, Estonian, Finnish, Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Swedish, and wider European communities. Activities of professional astronomers and amateur astronomers will be merged in order to achieve more understanding between communities.

The deadline for applications for the full program is 1 June 2023 23:59:00 UTC.
The deadline for application for the remote part of the program (LECTURES ONLY) is 1 August 2023 23:59:00 UTC.
20 selected participants will be provided free accommodation (in Tartu), transportation between accommodation and Tartu Observatory, meals and travel reimbursement up to 360€.