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.

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.

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€.

Regional Hubs at EPSC2021

Regional Hubs at EPSC2021

Let us show you how the Europlanet Society and its regional hubs can serve you. We will present you the benefits of joining the hubs and will gladly hear about your needs.

12:45 Welcome (Séverine Robert)

12:50 Why am I a member of the EPS? (Miguel Lopez Valverde)

12:55 Funded project: Mars Atlas (Henrik Hargitai)

13:05 Why am I a member of the EPS? (Jonathan Merrison)

13:10 Funded project: Storytelling workshop (Arianna Piccialli)

13:20 Why am I a member of the EPS? (Nicholas Achilleos)

13:25 Collaborative framework: Europlanet Telescope Network (Manuel Scherf)

13:35 Why am I a member of the EPS? (Lena Noack)

13:40 General discussion: What do you want the EPS to do for you? (All Panelists)

14:10 Wrap up (Séverine Robert)

14:15 End of meeting


The Europlanet Society Regional Hubs support the development of planetary science at a national and regional level, particularly in countries and areas that are currently under-represented within the community.

Our Hub Committees organise networking events and workshops to support the research community, as well as to build links with amateur astronomers, industrial partners, policymakers, educators, the media and the wider public. Europlanet Society members are welcome to participate in the activities of one or more Hubs.

The 10 Regional Hubs established to date are:

Transnational Access Insight: Investigating Fingerprints of Life on the Greenland Ice Sheet

Transnational Access Insight: Investigating Fingerprints of Life on the Greenland Ice Sheet

In this guest post, Laura Sánchez García of the Centro de Astrobiología (CAB, CSIC-INTA) describes her recent trip to Europlanet 2024 RI’s Kangerlussuaq Planetary Field Analogue Site in Greenland to investigate molecular and isotopic fingerprints of life on Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) cryo-ecosystems with astrobiological interest for icy worlds.

Kangerlussuaq TA Field Trip (Spanish Team): Group Pictures

Glacial systems are interesting for studying habitability and the limits of life. They are extreme environments where microorganisms may survive prolonged exposure to sub-zero temperatures and background radiation over millions or billions of years. Glaciers and the surrounding icy “cryo” environments (permafrost, glacial lakes, or melting streams) can be used to study the development of microbial cryo-ecosystems and may have implications in the search for past or current life in icy worlds beyond the Earth.

In the Solar System, Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus have been recognised as the icy worlds with highest likelihood to harbour life, largely because liquid water could be in contact with rocks. Both moons are believed to contain a global ocean of salty water under a rigid icy crust that would enable interaction between briny water and rocks, and allow the conditions for life to arise.

The permanent Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) is a potential analogue for such icy worlds, constituting an important historical record of microorganisms that can survive in extreme cold environments. Around the GrIS, different formations such as glacial lakes, permafrost, or further peat soils represent diverse stages of evolution of the GrIS and its thermal destabilisation.

We submitted a proposal to the second Transnational Access Call of Europlanet 2024 RI to visit the Kangerlussuaq Planetary Field Analogue Site in Greenland. In April 2021, we received the news that it had been successful, and our team’s visit took place from 19-29 July 2021.

Our project is an investigation of molecular and isotopic lipid biomarkers of microorganisms inhabiting different cryo-ecosystems at and around the GrIS. Through our results, we hope to obtain clues of a potential life development at an analogue site (ice sheet) of icy moons in our Solar System, and learn how ecosystems evolve (biological succession) when the ice cover retreats and gets exposed to the atmosphere (resulting in glacier-melting streams, bedrock-erosion sediments, lake sediments, glacial soils).

We searched for organics to study the molecular and isotopic composition of lipid biomarkers in environmental samples collected from different ecosystems in the Kangerlussuaq region on the west coast of Greenland, including: 

  1. The ice sheet cryo-environment,
  2. Nearby glacier-influenced ecosystems in and around glacial lakes
  3. Longer time-exposed and further-developed lake and soil ecosystems.

Ice sheet cryo-environment

Kangerlussuaq TA Field Trip (Spanish Team): Issunguata Sermia landscape

For the ice sheet study, we chose an ice sheet region in the Issunguata Sermia glacier system. There, we spotted four sites for sampling ice cores:

  • One near the glacier front, where ice is relatively older and carries plenty of dark, grey, fine material from the bedrock erosion during the glacier advance.
  • Two a bit further northeast in the ice sheet, where the ice is relatively younger and looked like slightly cleaner (i.e. whiter).
  • One further north, in the highest height, where the ice looked cleanest (i.e. whitest).

In the four sites, ice cores were retrieved down to 50-80 cm depth with a manual ice driller and, when the driller didn’t go deep enough, we dug a surface of about 35×35 cm2 with a geologist’s hammer to collect as much ice as possible down to the deepest depth reached by the drill.

Kangerlussuaq TA Field Trip (Spanish Team): Ice drilling on Issunguata Sermia

Together with the ice drills, we also collected additional samples from:

  • Melt water from a glacial stream flowing through the ice sheet.
  • Dark grey sand-sized sediments (with pebbles and small stones) from hill of deposits on the ice sheet coming from the erosion of the bedrock during the glacier advance.
  • Dark blackish, fine sediments outcropping from an ice wedge, also coming from glacial erosion of the bedrock.

The four ice drills were melted and, together with the melt water sample, were filtrated through 0.7 μm pore-size glass fibre filters, to recover the particulate matter and look for total organic carbon and lipid biomarkers.

Kangerlussuaq TA Field Trip (Spanish Team): Sampling Bedrock erosion sediments from Issunguata Sermia ice

2) Nearby glacier-influenced ecosystems in and around glacial lakes

Kangerlussuaq TA Field Trip (Spanish Team): Sampling on Glacial Lakes

For the study of the glacial lakes study, we chose two different systems:

A glacial lake (GL1) about 200 m apart from an edge of the glacier Issunguata Sermia.

In this lake, we sampled a surface sediment from near the shore, together with sediments from an exposed “terrace” near the shore, where material at ground level represented the oldest and that at top of the terrace the youngest. The terrace was assumed to be composed of sediments accumulated in the past when the lake had a higher water level compared to today.

A multiple-lake system next to an edge of the glacier Issunguata Sermia.

The lake system is composed of four interconnected glacial lakes, where the first lake (GL2; closest to the glacier edge) receives water from the melting glacier and feeds the second lake (GL3), which in turns feeds the third (GL4), and this the fourth (GL5).

Here, we collected water (for chemical analysis) and surface sediments (for lipid biomarkers analysis) from the four lakes, and a 25 cm-deep sediment core only from the fourth lake (i.e. furthest from the glacier edge).

3) Longer time-exposed and further developed lacustrine and soil ecosystem

We aimed to assess the organic-composition differences between glacial and non-glacial lakes, so we also sampled a number of non-glacial lakes fed by meteoric (rain and surface runoff) water:

  • A small lake (L6): a lake about 1 km long and 0.5 km wide that is about 3 km apart from Issunguata Sermia.
  • Long Lake (L7): a relatively larger lake about 10 km long and 1.5 km wide that is about 11 km apart from the same glacier.
  • Salt Lake (SL): a lake about 600 m long and 500 m wide furthest from the glacier, and about 3-4 km apart from Kangerlussuaq.

In the three lakes, we sampled water (for chemistry analysis) and surface sediments near the shore. Then, for the small lake (L6) and Salt Lake (SL), we collected a sediment core of 14 and 34 cm depth, respectively. At the Salt Lake basin, we also collected samples from a terrace in the shore, corresponding to past sediment/peat material piling up at the lake shore.

Kangerlussuaq TA Field Trip (Spanish Team): Sampling on Rain Lakes

4) Soil development on glacier retreatment

Finally, we wanted to learn about the soil development upon glacier retreatment, so we collected soil samples from a transect that included:

  • A young soil (poorly-vegetated so far) from recently exposed ground near the present margin of the Issunguata Sermia glacier.
  • A relatively older soil (more developed and vegetated) from the basin around the last lake of the four interconnected glacial-lakes system (i.e. GL5).
  • An even older soil (the most developed) from the Long Lake surroundings.

In order to get a glimpse of the fresh isotopic signatures from the vegetation contributing to the soil lipidic fingerprint, we also collected samples from the most representative vegetal specimens found in the studied area: sphagnum; grass; rounded-leave creeping plant with white flowers; orange, black, and pale-yellow lichens; and submerged and emergent macrophytes (from GL1). Most vegetal samples were collected from the surroundings of glacial lakes GL1 and GL4.

Soil & Vegetation studies at the Kangerlussuaq Planetary Analogue Field Site.  Credits: Laura Sánche-García/CAB (INTA-CSIC).

Following our return from Greenland, we are now starting on the analysis of samples and aim to publish our findings in a paper.

All photos from the trip

Kangerlussuaq TA Field Trip (Spanish Team) All Photos

The BioGreen Transnational Access visit was supported by Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastrucutre and received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 871149.

Transnational Access to the TA1.6 Kangerlussuaq Planetary Analogue Field Site facility is coordinated by Aarhus University.

Find out more about Europlanet 2024 RI’s Transnational Access Programme.

Asteroid Photometry – Europlanet Virtual Summer School

Asteroid Photometry – Europlanet Virtual Summer School

16-27 August 2021

Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure is pleased to announce the virtual summer school Asteroid Photometry that will take place virtually hosted by Vilnius University (Lithuania) and A. Mickiewicz University, (Poland): 16-27 August 2021.

The aim of the course is to give participants a thorough, multidisciplinary introduction into the ground-based and space observations of asteroids. Participants will be given remote hands-on experience in CCD photometry of asteroids using the wide field Maksutov type telescope of the Molėtai Astronomical Observatory and in analysing the observational data. The hands-on sessions will be accompanied by lectures of 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 doctoral candidates, master’s students, early career scientists, and amateur astronomers. Activities of professional astronomers and amateur astronomers will be merged in order to achieve more understanding between groups. The level of the school is orientated to PhD students and early career scientists, however amateur astronomers will be provided with the additional scientific support during lectures and observations. 

Participants that show acceptable results on their assignments will get a diploma with 2.5 ECTS credits, which may be used as part of their degree studies at their home universities.

The school is financed by the European Commission HORIZON 2020 project Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure.

The deadline for application is 15 June 2021 23:59:00 UTC.

Notifications of acceptance by 30 June 2021 23:59:00 UTC.

For more information and registration on the website

First successful observations at the Europlanet Telescope Network

Europlanet 2024 RI logo

First successful observations at the Europlanet Telescope Network

One month after the first projects to observe at the Europlanet Telescope Network were granted in December, the first successful observations took place in January at the Moletai Observatoria in Lithuania.

The project “Reducing the selection effects in asteroid spins, shapes, and thermal parameters” is a long-term project aiming at determining physical parameters like spin, 3D shape, size, and thermal inertia of numerous asteroids that have been omitted by most of  the previous studies. Their slow rotation and small amplitudes of brightness variations make them difficult targets for photometric observations, thus creating an observing selection effect.

Through coordinated observations from multiple sites, the project is gradually decreasing bias. This results in detailed spin and shape models based on high-quality photometric datasets of these asteroids observed at various viewing geometries.

Additionally, the models are being scaled in size down to 5% precision by thermophysical modelling with infrared data obtained from space, and fitting the shape models to stellar occultations by asteroids (Marciniak et al. 2018, and 2019: Astronomy Astrophys. 610, A7; and 625, A139). The new photometric observations, as shown in the image, gathered recently at Moletai Observatory, complemented with data from other sites, will result in fully covered lightcurves for five asteroids with rotation periods up to 38 hours, and should soon lead to the determination of spin and shape models of these challenging targets.

While this project already successfully observed its targets, further observations at the Europlanet Telescope Network are soon to come. Additionally, the second Science Advisory Board meeting was already taking place at the end of January to evaluate three more projects that want to exploit the small telescopes network. While the decision on the funding of these proposals will be announced soon, we are in the meantime inviting interested observers to apply with their project to the NA2 Call for Observations at the Europlanet Telescope Network.

Illustration showing how the 58 km sized asteroid Ljuba changes its position relative to stars within 5 hours. The images were obtained on the 35/51 cm telescope at the Moletai Observatory of Vilnius University in 2021.

Further information can be found directly at the call website.

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