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.

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 Society Discord Get-Togethers

Europlanet Society Discord Get-Togethers

What Are They?

Europlanet Society’s Discord get-togethers are informal, weekly sessions aimed at fostering community, facilitating conversation, and promoting engagement among our members. Unlike formal meetings, these get-togethers provide a relaxed environment for everyone – from newcomers to long-standing members – to interact, share knowledge, and stay updated on the latest within Europlanet Society.

When and Where?

The get-togethers occur weekly on Fridays and are hosted on our Discord server. Currently, they are held at 12:30–13:30 Paris time, a slot chosen to accommodate the various time zones across Europe. This timing is open to adjustment based on member feedback.

Who Can Attend?

These get-togethers are open to all Europlanet Society members. If you’re not yet a member but are interested in planetary science, consider joining the Europlanet Society to take part.

What’s On the Agenda?

Each week features something different. Topics can range from presentations on Europlanet services to discussions on the latest research in planetary atmospheres. We also dedicate time to community-generated topics and allow members the freedom to steer conversations organically.

Why Attend?

Engaging in these get-togethers offers a unique chance to network, discuss ongoing projects, and even collaborate on new ideas. This is your chance to get involved with the largest planetary science community in Europe.

How to Join?

Simply become a member of Europlanet Society’s Discord server and you’ll receive notifications for each get-together. To join the server, visit our membership website here.

A Blink of a Star: An Occultation Citizen Science Project – Europlanet Funding Scheme 2023 Grant

A Blink of a Star: An Occultation Citizen Science Project – Europlanet Funding Scheme 2023 Grant

Fostering curiosity about planetary sciences and space in general is the basis of the project conceived by Sergio Alonso Burgos and the team of “A Blink of a Star“, which has been awarded a grant under this year’s Europlanet Funding Scheme for Public Engagement.

The project is focused on the occultation of Betelgeuse (Alpha Orionis) by Asteroid (319) Leona on 12 December 2023, which will be easily visible with the naked eye on various places on Earth. Such an uncommon phenomenon offers a great opportunity for outreach about these events and the science involving their study.

Federica Duras interviewed Sergio Alonso Burgos, the project leader of this citizen science project which aims to complement the professional observations of the occultation through an outreach campaign to engage the public with the science behind these phenomena.

Sergio, where does the idea of “A blink of a Star” come from?

In the Sociedad Astronómica Granadina (SAG) we have a small team which is interested in observing occultations of different Solar System bodies: from asteroids from the main belt to more difficult targets as some transneptunian objects or even Polymele, the trojan asteroid to which NASA is going to visit with the Lucy mission. We are proud to be some of the few that managed to obtains useful data in a recent Polymele campaign in Spain (October 1st, 2021) thanks to a very accurate prediction made by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (IAA).

During the past several years we have had a quite strong ProAm (Professionals-Amateurs) relation with the IAA scientists: they provide useful predictions and perform the scientific analysis of the light curves and we provide our portable powerful telescopes and devices (occultations may happen anywhere) and experience in the field, as not all professional astronomers know how to correctly set up a portable telescope in the middle of the countryside.

The predicted shadow path for the occultation. The event will be better seen from the south of Portugal, north of Andalusia (Huelva, Sevilla, Córdoba, Jaén) and Murcia.

A few months ago we started talking about the great occultation that is going to happen on 12 December 2023: Betelgeuse is going to be occulted by asteroid Leona. This is a very special occasion because by observing this event, scientists are going to be able to determine very important features of Betelgeuse that are still unknown such as, for example, its exact radius. This may seem strange, as Betelgeuse is a very bright star that can be easily spotted with the naked eye. However, that extreme brightness of the star hinders precise measurements as the cameras and instruments get saturated in a fraction of a second. We discussed how interesting it may be for anyone to observe this event, as no special equipment is needed. We thought that it could be a fantastic opportunity to introduce the general public to astronomy, occultations and the science behind this discipline. And here we are, trying to launch a project in which almost anyone with a normal camera may be able to record the event and thus contribute in the scientific study of Betelgeuse and Leona.

How many people are involved in the creation and subsequent implementation of the project?

The project will involve dozens of people for all different activities that have to be made.

For the scientific part of the project (previous observations and computations for both Leona and Betelgeuse and the later analysis of the obtained light curves) we count on some of the IAA scientists. However, some of the SAG members are learning the procedures to reduce the data from the observations and even do some preliminary analysis in order to ease the task to the scientists. Moreover, IAA scientists will supervise all the resources that we are going to produce for the project to avoid any mistakes.

Some members of the Sociedad Astronómica Granadina that are involved in the project with their telescopes. Photo by Ramón L. Pérez

For the outreach part of the project we count on some specialists in scientific outreach from the Fundación Descubre.  Not only they are used to promote outreach activities, but they have also contributed to several different citizen science projects and they will be of great help to gather interest in the project from many different groups: high school students and teachers, city halls in the towns where the occultation will be visible and the general public.

However, the biggest effort concerning the citizen science project will be on the SAG members. We are a small group (around 20 people) but we will be in charge of coordinating and preparing all the activities that are going to be carried out: from conferences to preparing tutorials on how to do the observations, a photography contest related to the event and so on.

How difficult is it to coordinate the people involved, being so different types of figures (astronomers, amateurs, citizens)?

It is not easy but, fortunately, we already have some experience organising these kind of events, even if at a lower scale, and the relation among the different actors at this moment is quite good. One of the best things of this kind of projects is that professional astronomers, amateurs and outreach professionals know what can be done by each group. I’m pretty sure that in the following weeks the amount of emails, video conferences, telephone calls and Telegram messages will increase a lot, but I hope we will be able to manage it properly (now I’m crossing fingers).

What do you expect from the project? And when (in time)?
Since the event takes place on 12 December 2023, these next weeks are going to be very intense. At this stage the main goal is to attract a lot of people to record the event in order to have as many light curves as possible. After the event, the IAA team will perform all the scientific analysis of the results and hopefully determine important information about Betelgeuse and Leona.

For the outreach side of the project, we expect to grab the interest of the public, especially high school students, hoping to transmit them the passion for science and present a real example of performing a scientific experiment with a rigorous protocol. We are going to make a special effort to attract as many female students in all the activities of the project as possible to try to narrow the gender gap in STEM. We want the project to continue after the occultation event itself by presenting results to the scientific community in different conferences and doing more activities for the general public. I would like to point out that there is a section on the event website that could be useful for teachers, with an online simulator that allows them to better understand the phenomenon and generate ‘artificial light curves’.

Additionally, we hope that some amateurs astronomers that have not previously had interest in the study of this kind of events will participate in future ProAm occultation campaigns.

Do you think Europlanet could be a useful link? And if yes, why?

Of course it will. We know that many observers from Europe are thinking about travelling to Spain for the occasion and the diffusion of this project by Europlanet may help us to get in contact with all those observers to try to coordinate and get the best results.

-Is this a term-project? If not, what is the future of the project?

At this moment, the plan is that the project will end once all the analysis of the data is made, all programmed activities are finished and once the results are published. Since this event is quite unique we cannot guarantee that the project will continue (at least in the same conditions). However, we expect that the experience to coordinate so many people with different backgrounds will be useful for other future occultation campaigns. 

Fingers crossed Sergio, we cannot wait to see what this collaboration will bring and to find out what secrets of Betelgeuse will be revealed!

EPEC Profiles – Jessica Hogan

EPEC Profiles – Jessica Hogan

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.

Jessica Hogan is a PhD student in Astrobiology at The Open University, UK.

Just one month away from beginning her first year as a PhD student in the School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences – we reflect on key experiences in her career to – date.

Jessie graduated with a B.Sc. in Planetary Science with Astronomy from Birkbeck, University of London in 2021. Her interest in Astrobiology influenced a final dissertation on the habitable zone modelling of exoplanets.

Following her studies, she was supported by a Europlanet grant to present this thesis at EPSC 2022 in Granada, alongside other early-career researchers.

The turning point came upon securing an internship in the Operations Development Division with the European Space Agency (ESA) in Madrid, Spain. Here is where she studied the icy surface of Enceladus (one of Saturn’s Moons), by analysing Cassini Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) data and modelling photometric parameters. Investigating this potentially habitable environment can further knowledge of active surface processes that may take place on icy worlds in our Solar System – in preparation for interpreting ESA’s JUICE mission findings.

Inspired by the astrobiological significance of Enceladus and other icy bodies, she is continuing to build on her existing research with her current PhD in this field.

Maintaining a personal interest in improving youth access to education, she has previously volunteered with Unibuddy to support prospective students in adjusting to the challenges that accompany higher education. Jessie was also an Ambassador for Birkbeck, where she hosted pop-up stands in colleges throughout London to share her journey as a woman in STEM.

“EPEC has been key in getting me where I am today – supporting myself and other early-careers in navigating our first conference experience, and facilitating vital collaborations between researchers in different fields. It’s an invaluable network to be a part of. Having gained knowledge and connections with other planetary scientists, my journey with EPEC has come full-circle as I contribute back via the EPEC Communications Working Group, who continue to organise all-important events and outreach activities.”

JESSICA HOGAN

More information about Jessica Hogan:

Contact: jessica.hogan@open.ac.uk

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jhog

Jessica Hogan. Image credit: J. Hogan.

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.

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.

EPEC Profiles – Victor Amir Cardoso Dorneles

EPEC Profiles – Victor Amir Cardoso Dorneles

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.

Victor is a PhD candidate in Astrobiology at the University of Bologna, IT.

I am currently in the last year of my PhD at the University of Bologna (IT), with a period abroad at The Natural History Museum of London (UK). My focus is to study the preservation of biosignatures in carbonate rocks from extreme modern terrestrial environments as analogues to lacustrine paleoenvironments of the Jezero crater on Mars. I am also a member of the Astrobiology and Geobiology Research Group at Unibo, and early this year I became part of the EPEC communications working group.

Over the years I have been pursuing what became a dream in my childhood. From the age of 7 to 17 I used to be a boy scout, so I grow up in touch with nature through camping, trekking, and hiking. Looking at the bright sky at night in the mountains was something that always fascinated me, and that is why I thought to be an astronomer first, to discover the wonders of the universe. Only after reading the book “Journey to the Center of the Earth” by French author Jules Verne, I realized that I needed to understand the planet where I live before exploring other worlds. In the outdoor activities as a boy scout, I used to look at the landscapes, mountains, and waterfalls and wonder how it all came about. Then, my journey in Geology started in 2014, when I was admitted to the faculty of Geology at the Federal University of Parana, in Brazil.

Coincidentally, my first contact with Astrobiology happened in the first week of my undergraduate classes when I attended a lecture on Geomicrobiology by who would become my future advisor. In that presentation, I discovered what stromatolites were and how they could be used to study ancient life on Earth, as well as their importance to the search for extraterrestrial life. That beat me in a way that was completely fascinating! It seems rash and naive to say that at that moment I was sure of my destiny, but I knew that was it. So, I survived the five years of my undergraduate degree plus two and a half years of Master’s in Geology, in which I had the opportunity to build a strong background in scientific research, learn different analytical techniques, gain experience in the laboratory, and participate in several scientific events. Finally, in my PhD I could confirm what I was sure about in 2014 in that first week of Geology undergrad, that I was going to work with Astrobiology.

Now as an adult man and geoscientist, I always try to bring the doubts of that little boy scout into my works as fuel for deciphering the Earth, and how life has evolved here, possibly on Mars and beyond!

The Europlanet Science Congress 2022 was my first contact with EPEC and it was fundamental for me to open my mind and be sure of the work I want to develop. I left the event extremely excited and energized after meeting a lot of people in my field and seeing a lot of great work in Planetary Sciences being done around the world.

VICTOR AMIR CARDOSO DORNELES

More information about Victor Amir Cardoso Dorneles:

Contact: victoramir.cardoso2@unibo.it

Website: https://www.unibo.it/sitoweb/victoramir.cardoso2

ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Victor-Dorneles

Victor Amir Cardoso Dorneles. Image credit: G. Ruviaro.

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.

EPEC Profiles – João Dias

EPEC Profiles – João Dias

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.

João Dias is a Ph.D. student in Astronomy at the University of Lisboa, PT

Hello, I am currently starting my first year of the PhD in Astronomy at the Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences, in Lisbon, where I also did the Master in Astrophysics and Cosmology (2022). I will be studying minor chemical species abundances on Venus and Mars. Namely, I will be mapping water and methane abundances on Mars and sulphur dioxide, water and other associated compounds on Venus, using both ground-based observations and space-based observations from Mars Express and ExoMars. I will be using high-resolution spectroscopy observations and some radiative transfer codes.

I am currently included in the team of the ARIEL space mission, in the WG regarding the synergy between the Solar System and the exoplanets, and also in the EnVision future mission to Venus.
I had the opportunity this year to participate in my first in-person conference, the EPSC 2022 in Granada, which was amazing to improve networking and discuss the recent results on Planetary Science. I recently published my first work in the journal Atmosphere.

Moreover, besides research, I have contributed individually and collectively to several Science Communication activities in Portugal, such as astronomical observations, workshops, lectures in public schools and DarkSky Astronomy festivals. I am part of an Astronomy student group in Lisbon (Viver Astronomia), of about 50 people, that helps in the development of the aforementioned activities.
In my still young experience as a researcher in Planetary Sciences, I learned the importance of communication, discussion and teamwork in science.

As a next step in my career, I look forward to expanding my contribution to the community by joining the EPEC team, namely the Communication WG.

I had my first contact with EPEC in the Annual Week event of this year (2022). It was an excellent opportunity to network with amazing people in my area of research, discover the several funding opportunities that exist and the amazing projects that EPEC is doing and developing. At the Annual Week, the Communication WG caught my attention and now that I am starting my PhD, I think it is the right time to give a contribution to this group.

JOÃO DIAS

More information about João Dias:

Contact: jadias@fc.ul.pt

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jo%C3%A3o-dias-274026199

João Dias. Image credit: João Dias.

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.

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

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.

Calls for Europlanet Outreach Funding Scheme and Prize 2023

Calls for Europlanet Outreach Funding Scheme and Prize 2023

Are you looking for funding to kickstart an outreach or education project related to planetary science? Or have you run a successful public engagement project for which you deserve some recognition?

The Calls are now open for applications for the Europlanet Outreach Funding Scheme 2023 and nominations for the Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement 2023.

**Deadline for submissions is 19 July 2023**

About the Europlanet Outreach Funding Scheme 2023

Europlanet awards grants of between 1 000 and 5 000 Euros to fund projects to engage the public with planetary science. Through the funding scheme, Europlanet aims to encourage new ways of sharing planetary science with different kinds of audiences across Europe (and beyond) to create socially impactful initiatives that combine research, learning, innovation and social development.

Find out more at: https://www.europlanet-society.org/outreach/funding-scheme/europlanet-public-engagement-funding-scheme-2023-application-form/

About the Europlanet Prize For Public Engagement 2023

The Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement recognises achievements in engaging citizens with planetary science. The Prize of 1 500 Euros is awarded annually to individuals or groups who have developed innovative and socially impactful practices in planetary science communication and education.

The winner will be honoured at the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022 in Granada will be invited to share experiences and best practice by delivering an Awards Ceremony.

Find out more at: https://www.europlanet-society.org/prize/europlanet-prize-for-public-engagement-2023-application-form/

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 !

A Journey to the Planets: Bimbim’s Team episodes online!

Take a trip to the planets with Bimbim and his team

The first three episodes of “A Journey to the Planets” series, the winning proposal of the 2022 round of the Europlanet Funding scheme for public engagement, have been released.

Mainly addressed to school students between the ages of 2 and 8 years old, it als supports teachers and educators with three stories about the planets: a general overview of all the Solar System planets, the Earth and Mars.

Bimbim at the beginning of its Journey – from episode 1

Get ready to start the journey for discovering the Solar System with Bimbim (a cute little dog who really asks a lot of interesting questions) and all his friends. The pilot episode (here in English) has been translated in French and Portuguese and it comes with great illustrations and a funny story behind the scientific content.

We don’t want to reveal too much so… enjoy watching and see you at the next stop!

Find out more about the ideas and the creators of Bimbim’s Team in this interview with project lead, Katia Pinheiro. The project was also presented at EGU2023 in Vienna:

JUICE’s Adventure Begins

JUICE’s Adventure Begins

Congratulations to the European Space Agency (ESA), Arianespace and everyone involved in the successful launch of the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) mission.

JUICE set off today from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou on an 8-year journey to reach Jupiter system that includes flybys of Earth and Venus to pick up speed in ‘slingshot’ manoeuvres. On arrival, it will perform 35 flybys of three of Jupiter’s icy moons, Callisto, Europa and Ganymede, before going into orbit around Ganymede.


Find out more about Ganymede, Europa and other icy moons in our Solar System in Europlanet’s new collection of educational resources.

Banner image credit: ESA/M. Pédoussaut and ESA/CNES/Arianespace/Optique Vidéo du CSG/JM Guillon

Announcing the Icy Moons Collection of Educational Resources

Announcing the Icy Moons Collection of Educational Resources

To celebrate the launch of ESA’s JUICE mission, Europlanet is releasing a new collection of free educational resources themed around icy moons in our Solar System

The first three resources, on Europa, Ganymede and Enceladus, are now available for educators and science communicators to try out. The resources include presentations, teachers’ notes, videos, links to additional resources and a glossary of terms related to the exploration of these mysterious worlds.

The resources are targeted at students aged 10-14 years old and cover topics common on European educational curricula for biology (conditions for life, life in extremes) physics (magnetism), chemistry (states of matter, solutions), geology (surface landforms, hydrothermal vent systems).

New resources and translations will be added over the coming weeks. Feedback on the content, or how you have used it, is welcome. 

The Icy Moons Collection is the latest addition to Europlanet’s growing collection of educational resources linked to astrobiology and planetary science, which include:

  • Teaching Resources
    • The Mars Collection – seven education packs linking environments on Mars with sites on Earth with similar conditions (terrestrial analogues)
    • The Illustrated Guide to Mars – collections of illustrations on topics linked to the exploration of the Red Planet
  • Videos
    • Astrobiology: Life in the Universe – a video (available in five languages) about the search for life in our Universe
    • Jupiter and its Icy Moons – a video on exploration of Jupiter and the icy worlds that surround it
    • The Case of the Rocks from Space – what meteorites can tell us about the formation of our Solar System.
  • Recommended external resources relevant to astrobiology and planetary science.

ERIM / EPEC Annual Week 2023 – Registration Now Open

Europlanet Research Infrastructure Meeting (ERIM)/Europlanet Early Career (EPEC) Annual Week 2023 – Registration Now Open

The first Europlanet Research Infrastructure Meeting (ERIM), co-hosted with the fifth Europlanet Early Career (EPEC) Annual Week, will take place from 19-23 June 2023 in hybrid format at the Hotel Sorea / Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia and online. 

Registration is free and accommodation and travel support is available for participants. 

Registration is now open.

Deadline for on-site registration: 19 May 2023

Deadline for virtual registration: 16 June 2023

About ERIM

ERIM is a new kind of meeting to support European planetary science and associated communities. The format of ERIM 2023 is a series of interactive workshops related to the activities of the Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) project, research infrastructures in general, and the Europlanet Society. The meeting will be co-hosted with EPEC Annual Week 2023, the training school for the Europlanet Early Career Network. 

How will it Work?

Workshops will be organised under a series of programme tracks. You can dip in and out of programme tracks, workshops and even sessions during the week. The aim is to make new connections, brainstorm ideas, develop synergies, increase opportunities for collaboration and help us build a strong, thriving, sustainable community for planetary science in Europe.

You don’t have to be a member of the Europlanet Society or the Europlanet 2024 RI project to participate in ERIM. We are looking for new people to engage with Europlanet, so everyone is welcome. However, we will be offering free accommodation and travel grants to a limited number (~150) of participants. If we are over-subscribed in requests for support, priority will be given to Europlanet Society members. (Find out about other benefits of joining the Europlanet Society).

Programme 

Many different topics will be covered within the ERIM programme tracks and workshops, including:

For full details of the meeting and registration, see: https://www.europlanet-society.org/erim2023/

If you have any questions, contact us.

We hope to see you in Bratislava!

The ERIM 2023 Organising Committee

13th “Paolo Farinella’’ Prize, 2023 

 13th “Paolo Farinella’’ Prize, 2023 

 To honor the memory and the outstanding figure of Paolo Farinella (1953-2000), an extraordinary scientist and person, a prize has been established in recognition of significant contributions in the fields of interest of Paolo, which spanned from planetary sciences to space geodesy, fundamental physics, science popularization, security in space, weapon control and disarmament. 

The call for nominations for the 13th edition is now open. The 13th Paolo Farinella Prize will be awarded to a young scientist with outstanding contributions in the field of planetary science concerning “From superbolides to meteorites: physics and dynamics of small planetary impactors” hence including also the study of meteor showers and of the cratering events on the solid bodies of the solar system: theoretical, modelling, experimental and observational work. The award winner will be honored during the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2023, which will be held as a joint meeting with the AAS Division of Planetary Sciences (DPS) in San Antonio (Texas, USA). 

For the 13th “Paolo Farinella” Prize, the terms and rules are as follows: 

1. A competition is announced to award the “Paolo Farinella” Prize for the year 2023. The prize consists of a plate, a certificate and the amount of 1500 €. The winner is expected to give a Prize lecture during EPSC 2023. 

2. The winner will be selected on the basis of his/her overall research results in the field of ” From superbolides to meteorites: physics and dynamics of small planetary impactors” – hence including also the study of meteor showers and of the cratering events on the solid bodies of the solar system. 

3. Nominations must be sent by email not later than May 10th to the following addresses: ettore.perozzi@asi.it, mario.dimartino@inaf.it, acb@ua.es and david.lucchesi@inaf.it, using the form downloadable from this link

4. The nominations for the “Paolo Farinella” Prize can be made by any researcher that works in the field of planetary sciences following the indications in the downloadable form. Self-nominations are acceptable. 

The candidates should have international and interdisciplinary collaborations and should be not older than the age of Paolo when he passed away, 47 years, as of May 1st, 2023. 

5. The winner of the prize will be selected before June 20 by the “Paolo Farinella” Prize Committee composed of outstanding scientists in planetary sciences, with specific experience in the field. 

6. The Prize Committee will consider all the nominations, but it will be entitled to autonomously consider other candidates. 

More about the Farinella Prize

Lena Noack Awarded ERC Consolidator Grant

Planetary Scientist Professor Lena Noack to Receive Funding from the European Research Council with an ERC Consolidator Grant

Geoscientist at Freie Universität Berlin to receive almost two million euros to research rocky exoplanets

Professor Lena Noack from the Institute of Geological Sciences at Freie Universität Berlin has been selected for an ERC Consolidator Grant by the European Research Council.

The Europlanet Society would like to congratulate Lena, who is also the Chair of the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC), for the well-deserved award and looks forward to the fascinating science that will be supported through the Grant.

Lena will receive over 1.99 million euros over the course of five years to carry out her research project “DIVerse Exoplanet Redox State Estimations – DIVERSE.” In her research she will address the diversity of rocky planets (the planetary siblings of Earth, Mars, and Venus) in other solar systems. The European Research Council awards ERC Consolidator Grants to promising scientists and scholars who completed their doctorates between seven and twelve years ago and now find themselves in the “consolidation phase” of their academic careers.

The James Webb Space Telescope and upcoming Ariel space telescope have opened up new exciting prospects in observational astronomy, making it possible to study exoplanetary atmospheres in greater depth. Planetary scientist Lena Noack is now planning on making use of the opportunities unlocked by these new technologies: “Many studies on exoplanets tend to focus on biosignatures. For example, the presence of specific atmospheric gases can only be explained by the existence of life on Earth. However, in order to prevent misinterpretations, we first have to gain a better understanding of the potential spectrum of abiotic atmospheres – which also includes evaluating the possibility that life could exist there some day. Not all planets resemble Earth. There could be completely different types of rocky planets out there,” Noack explains.

The “DIVERSE” project will focus on particularly unusual exoplanets (here referred to as “Class X planets”), which have a strongly reduced interior chemistry. The result would be an atmosphere that was formed by volcanic outgassing, but one which would look quite different to that of Earth or its neighboring planets. At least for some time, the atmosphere could be dominated by volatile hydrogen. In fact, these planets would then more closely resemble ice giants, like Neptune in our solar system, where atmospheres are formed from the accretion disc during the creation of planets and are thus dominated by hydrogen and helium. However, it is still very difficult to observe helium in exoplanet atmospheres, despite some progress made in recent years. The Class X planets postulated by Noack would find themselves in the group of planets that resemble Neptune.

“If we were able to discover an exoplanet whose atmosphere primarily consisted of hydrogen without a significant presence of helium, then we would be able to call this a Class X planet,” she adds. Being able to detect a planet of this type would have major ripple effects on the wider research community. The strongly reduced chemistry in the interior would indicate that – in contrast to the rocky planets in the solar system – metal and rock would not have separated into the core and the rocky mantle above it, but would instead have remained mixed for a long time. With the aid of theoretical models, Noack and her group will lay the essential groundwork for later identifying promising candidates for Class X planets for observation. “If we manage to detect several Class X planets, then this would provide us with a statistical understanding of which planetary masses and compositions could produce a planet similar to Earth, and which could result in quite different worlds that do not exist in the Solar System.”

Lena Noack has been a professor at Freie Universität Berlin since 2017. Her research focus is on the geodynamic modeling of planetary processes. Having studied mathematics at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and completing her doctorate at the Institute of Planetary Research based at the German Aerospace Center, she moved to the Royal Observatory of Belgium in 2012, before returning to Berlin several years later and joining Freie Universität. She is primarily interested in exploring the link between planetary surfaces and their interiors as well as characterizing potential Earth-like exoplanets around our neighboring stars.

Picture available for download

Further Information

Imaginary extraterrestrials help learn about the Solar System and about life beyond Earth

The Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences (IA) in Portugal has launched a free educational board game that promotes group learning about the planets and moons of the Solar System and about astrobiology.

ET – A Solar System Adventure” is a board game is available free of charge online in Portuguese and English. The educational resource has been scientifically validated by researchers at the IA. The project was funded by the Europlanet Society as one of the winning proposals of the Europlanet Public Engagement Funding Scheme in 2019.

“The aim of this game is to engage young people with Space and with the search for life beyond Earth, i.e. astrobiology. As a strategy, we used a theme that is already popular among our target audience: aliens,” said Catarina Leote, from the Science Communication Group of the IA and the coordinator of the project that, in collaboration with the Planetary Systems Group of the same institute, led to the design and production of the game.

“ET phone home”

In this game, the quote from Steven Spielberg’s iconic film does not work. The players are the ones responsible for taking sixteen lost creatures from other worlds to their homes in the Solar System. This is the challenge that the Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences (IA) proposes to everyone, but in particular to those between 8 and 12 years old, so that they can become enthusiastic about the planets and moons of our cosmic neighbourhood, and about the conditions necessary for life beyond our blue planet.

Example of a Question card in the ET - A Solar System Adventure Game.
Example of a Question card. The mechanics of the board game ET – A Solar System Adventure involves answering questions about astronomy in order to move around the board. Credits: IA

Available in a “Print and Play” format, it can be downloaded for free and printed. After cutting and assembling it, one just has to gather pawns and a dice to start this fun adventure, accompanied by alien illustrations by Paulo Galindro and a board design by Sara Patinho. It is a fun and educational activity for families and a useful tool for teachers who want to introduce the world of astronomy to their students.

What are then the challenges posed to the players? First, they have to know their territory, that is, the worlds of the Solar System – the planets, but also several of its moons, some of them real targets of the current search for life beyond Earth. To do so, the players must answer questions, which give them access to information cards and mini-puzzle cards of the illustrations of the sixteen E.T.s. They can also trade cards with the other players to obtain a complete figure. Only then can they embark on the ultimate goal: guessing the world of origin of their extraterrestrial.

Detail from the ET - A Solar System Adventure board game.
Detail of the game mechanics showing a three-piece ET puzzle. Credits: IA

The creatures representing the E.T.s are all imaginary, but their anatomy was based on scientific facts about diverse environments in the Solar System. If these aliens really existed, they would almost certainly call these places “home sweet home”. “The discussion [about the creation of E.T.s] was of a scientific nature and therefore the information conveyed, which is related to the game’s environments, is good and solid science. The E.T.s were an interesting exercise of imagination”, says Pedro Machado, researcher at the IA and at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon (Ciências ULisboa), and one of the researchers who participated in the creation of the game.

“The graphics were another priority. We created the E.T.s based on anatomical and physiological characteristics necessary to be adapted to their planets or moons, so there were conditions that had to be met in the drawings. The final result was a combination of our descriptions with Paulo Galindro’s talent and creativity.”
Catarina Leote

The board game also includes a helpful tool: a booklet with complementary information about planets, moons and small bodies in the Solar System, as well as essential notions about the search for life beyond Earth, or astrobiology. In the next phase, there will be versions in other languages, such as Spanish, French and Italian.

More about the Europlanet Public Engagement Funding Scheme.

AbGradEPEC 2023

AbGradEPEC 2023

After 2 years of postponing it, AbGradE and EPEC are pleased to invite you to our joint symposium AbGradEPEC 2023!

The event will take place on the beautiful island of La Palma (Spain) at the Hotel La Palma & Teneguia Princess on May 4-6, 2023 (right before the BEACON conference)!


The symposium is open to all early-careers – from undergraduates to postdocs and professionals. It will be a great opportunity to get to know other astrobiolgists and planetary scientists! “AbGradEPEC 2023” will be a chance to show that the space research family is still vibrant and motivated despite pandemics and natural disasters.

The preliminary programme is as follows: 

  • Wednesday (3.5.2023)
    • afternoon: arrival
    • evening: ice breaker at the pool bar
  • Thursday (4.5.2023)
    • whole day: scientific programme  
  • Friday (5.5.2023):
    • morning: scientific programme
    • afternoon: excursion ti the new Tajogaite volcano
  • Saturday (6.5.2023)
    • whole day: Workshop

The scientific sessions will include contributed talks (and/or posters) by our attendees. This will be a great opportunity to present your work in front of a friendly audience of peers in a stress-free environment.

If you plan to present at both AbGradEPEC and BEACON, we kindly ask you to either contribute a presentation at AbGradEPEC for your BEACON poster, or chose two different topics, in case you contribute presentations for both events.

As soon as you fill in the registration form, we will send you further instructions concerning the format and length of the abstract for either (or both) a contributed talk or poster via email. The registration fee for the AbGradEPEC event will be 30€. Additionally, we will offer an excursion to sites of volcanological interest on Friday afternoon for 35€ extra. The bank details for the payment will be sent to you after completing the registration form. Registration is only completed when the registration fee is transferred.

We are happy to announce that we will be able to offer some accommodation grants! To be eligible, you must submit an abstract and tick the respective field in the registration form. The result of the grant evaluation will be announced in the third week of February to ensure that awardees are able to book their accommodation before the registration deadline (March 1st). 

IMPORTANT: 

  • The deadline for abstract submission (and accommodation grant applications) is January 31st, 2023 
  • The deadline for registration to AbGradEPEC is March 1st, 2023. 
  • We would recommend that you stay directly at the venue (La Palma & Teneguia Princess Hotel). Accommodation booking should be done directly through the hotel website. Please note that ALL participants should do their booking on their own. The accommodation booking deadline is March 1st, 2023. Thereafter, accommodation cannot be guaranteed. To book accommodation, please follow the instruction below: 
  1. Go to the hotel’s website 
  2. Fill in the number of people, the arrival and the departure date.  
  3. Fill in the promotion code PHYSICSTOCKHOLM (make sure to use all caps) 
  1. You should be quoted a price of around 75€ per night for one person or around 100€ per night for two people. Please note that this is for an all-inclusive stay.
  2. Please find all information about registration, abstract submission at https://abgrade.eu/abradepec2023/

Europlanet Research Infrastructure Meeting (ERIM) 2023

Europlanet Research Infrastructure Meeting (ERIM) 2023

The first Europlanet Research Infrastructure Meeting (ERIM) will take place from 19-23 June 2023 in hybrid format at the Hotel Sorea, Bratislava, Slovakia and online. 

ERIM 2023 will bring together a range of planetary science and Europlanet community workshops, including interactive sessions on geological mapping, planetary space weather, the Europlanet Telescope Network, industry engagement, innovations in outreach tools.

The Europlanet Early Career (EPEC) Annual Week will be co-hosted with ERIM, along with Europlanet Society meetings of the Regional Hubs and the Europlanet General Assembly.

Download ERIM2023 Logo Packs: Print | Digital

Find out more about ERIM 2023.

Новости Омутнинск Любовь и семья Общество Люди и события Красота и здоровье Дети Диета Кулинария Полезные советы Шоу-бизнес Огород Гороскопы Авто Интерьер Домашние животные Технологии Рекорды и антирекорды