EPEC Annual Week 2024 – Programme

Europlanet Early Career (EPEC) Annual Week 2024 – 6th Edition

Details of EPEC Annual Week 2024

Dates: 25-28 June 2024
Venue: University of Padua’s Department of Geosciences/Online
Programme: Now Available

The EPEC Annual Week is an event that gathers Early Careers from everywhere in the world, where different seminars and workshops foster a healthy, collaborative, and interactive reflection on topics related to academia and the challenges that early careers face. In 2024, for the first time, it will be held as a hybrid meeting to allow all the people interested to join and participate. The school is organised by the Europlanet Early Career network (EPEC) and provides participants with the opportunity to engage with other young researchers.

The EPEC Annual Week  takes place in the spring/early summer of each year in a different location around Europe, and this year Italy will be the host country thanks to the participation of the University of Padua.

The EPEC Annual Week is an opportunity for the EPEC community to better get to know each other, to brainstorm on how to further develop the network in terms of the activities of its working groups and to enhance the interaction with members of the Europlanet Executive Board, who will be invited to give talks throughout the week. Furthermore, the school brings together young scientists from all EU countries and provides a networking platform where science discussion and collaboration are stimulated via a series of group activities.

Who can participate

Participants must be Early Careers (either be in their final year of an MSc course or be currently enrolled in a PhD program)  in the field of planetary/space science or have obtained their PhD qualification not earlier than 2017. Note that in order to apply to the training school you are NOT required to be a member of EPEC, although this is encouraged.

EPEC Annual Week banner 2024
EPEC Annual Week banner 2024

The 2024 edition of the EPEC Annual Week will take place in Padua, Italy. Sessions and activities related to the meeting will take place at the University of Padua’s Department of Geosciences. The Department is located just 15-20 mins walk from the city center in Via Giovanni Gradenigo 6. 


The programme for this year’s EPEC Annual Week will cover:

  • Introductions and sessions on:
    • Planetary science and industry (with a particular focus on Italy)
    • Fellowships and other opportunities
    • Outreach and science communication
    • Mental health and work/life balance
    • EPEC activities
  • Social events


Registration has now closed.

Successful applicants will be notified via e-mail within two days after the submission deadline. In case of any queries or problems related to the application procedure, please send an email to epec.network@gmail.com, including ‘EPEC Annual Week application’ in the subject.


Reporting Incidents

EPEC aspires to be a safe and respectful community, and will not tolerate harassment, bullying, discrimination or intimidation in any setting (online or face-to-face).

If you have experienced or have witnessed behaviour which is contrary to the Europlanet Code of Conduct please complete the Breach of Conduct Reporting Form.

Local Info

The 2024 edition of the EPEC Annual Week will take place in Padua, Italy. Sessions and activities related to the meeting will take place at the University of Padua’s Department of Geosciences. The Department is located just 15-20 mins walk from the city center in Via Giovanni Gradenigo 6.  

How to arrive in Padua

By plane

Padua is easily accessible from nearby airports. Closest airports are Venezia “Marco Polo” airport (VCE), Treviso “Antonio Canova” airport (TSF), Verona “Valerio Catullo” airport (VRN) and Bologna “Guglielmo Marconi” airport (BLQ).

From Venice “Marco Polo” airport (VCE), Padua can be reached:

  • by train, with a bus service from the airport to Mestre train station and from there a train to Padua (about 40 mins) 
  • by bus, departing in front of the airport and arriving at the bus station in Padua
  • by private transport, taxi or GoOpti (private or collective) transfer service
  • Please note that there is no bus or train service at night.

From Treviso “Antonio Canova” airport (TSF), Padua can be reached: 

  • by bus, local buses (E060) departing to the right of the airport exit and arriving at the bus station in Padua (about 1h). Please note that there is no bus service at night.
  • by private transport, taxi or GoOpti (private or collective) transfer service

From Verona “Valerio Catullo” airport (VRN), Padua can be reached: 

  • by train, with Verona Airlink from the airport to Verona Porta Nuova train station and from there a train to Padua (about 1h 15 mins)
  • by private transport, taxi or GoOpti (private or collective) transfer service
  • Please note that there is no train service at night.

From Bologna “Guglielmo Marconi” airport (BLQ), Padua can be reached:

  • by train, with Marconi Express monorail train from the airport to Bologna Stazione Centrale train station and from there with a train to Padua (about 1h 30 mins). Please note that there is no train service at night.
  • by taxi (about 1h 30 mins).

By train

The train station of Padua has daily direct connections through high-speed trains (Trenitalia and Italo trains) with major Italian cities such as Rome (3h 30 mins), Milan (2h), Naples (about 5h), Florence (about 2h), and of course Venice (Venezia) Mestre (15-30 mins). 

The taxi waiting stand is right in front of Padua’s train station. 

A luggage storage service is open every day from 6 am to 8 pm next to platform 1.

Hotel info and location 

Participants will be accomodated in double rooms with breakfast included at the Hotel “Al Fagiano” located in Padua’s historical city center (Via Antonio Locatelli 45) just a few minutes walk from the Basilica del Santo and Prato della Valle. 

How to get from the train station to the hotel and back

Tram stops and numerous bus lines are located close to the hotel. From the Padua train station the easiest option is to take the tram Sir1 in the direction of “Santo” and get off at the “Santo” stop, from there, cross the street and take the 1st street on the right (Via Locatelli) where the hotel is located at n.45. The whole trip takes about 10-15 mins. 

How to get from the hotel to the venue and back

The venue is located approximately 25 mins walk from the hotel. Alternatively, you can combine a bus trip and some walking, which will take a similar amount of time. 

Possible route from the hotel:

  • Take Line U13 at “Businello Santo” stop, get off at “Scardeone 2” stop and then walk for 12 mins 
EPEC AW Bus Route
  • Take Line U03 at “Businello 4” stop, get off at “Tommaseo 114” stop and then walk for 5 mins
EPEC AW Bus Route

You can do the reverse journey to come back. All the info about bus lines and stops can be consulted on Google Maps or on the Moovit app. 

Moving around Padua

The city of Padua has local buses and trams. Timetables, maps, and information on where to buy tickets are available here

If you prefer an alternative and sustainable way to explore the city there are bike sharing (Mobike, GoodBike) and e-scooters (BIT Mobility, Dott) services. More info is available here

Taxi service is also available 24h (Radio Taxi Padova). Short taxi trips within the city center should cost about 10-20 euros. More info is available here.

Consider also downloading the app Moovit for planning your trip.

About Padua

Padua (Padova, in the Italian language) is located in the center of the Veneto region, close to the lagoon city Venice. Populated since the Roman’s time, Padua is a city rich in history and culture. The city is an UNESCO site for the “Orto Botanico” (Botanical Gardens), which is the oldest in the world, and the “Cappella degli Scrovegni” (Scrovegni Chapel), painted by Giotto in 1305.

Padua is also home to one of the oldest universities in the world and the second oldest university in Italy. Founded in 1222, the University has always played a central role in Astronomical sciences. Many important people visited, taught or studied at Padua: for example Nicolaus Copernicus and Galileo Galilei. Galileo was a professor at the University of Padua, and during his stay in the city, he discovered the four Moons of Jupiter using his telescope: Io, Europa, Callisto and Ganymede.

In 1671 the University of Padova obtained the permission to build an astronomical observatory. Giuseppe Toaldo, priest and professor of astronomy, identified the Torlonga tower as the perfect place (now called “Specola”). In 1777 Torloga became the first observatory of the University, to which was added those of Asiago in 1942 (Cima Pennar) and in 1972 (Cima Ekar).

Social Events and Excursions

Details coming soon.

EPEC Annual Week Organising Team

  • Beatrice Baschetti, INAF
  • Silvia Bertoli, INAF
  • Nicole Costa, University of Padua
  • Jessie Hogan, Open University (EPEC Co-Chair)
  • Melissa Mirino, INAF (EPEC Co-Chair)
  • Giovanni Munaretto, INAF
  • Gloria Tognon, Center of Studies and Activities for Space “G. Colombo” – CISAS

Past EPEC Annual Weeks

Find out more about past EPEC Annual Weeks.

Europlanet Central Europe Hub: Tatra workshop

Europlanet Central Europe Hub: Tatra workshop

The Europlanet project, in collaboration with the Astronomical Institute of Slovak Academy of Sciences and Wigner RCP (Hungary), is organising a two-day workshop for the Central Europe Hub of the Europlanet Society. The meeting will be an opportunity to discuss planetary and space science, and to network with colleagues from Central Europe.

The meeting will take place on 19-20 June 2024 at the Astronomical Institute of Slovak Academy of Sciences in Tatranská Lomnica (Slovakia).

The workshop schedule will include time for introductions, scientific discussions, splinter meetings and a visit to Tatra Observatory.

Observatory Skalnate pleso in the Tatra mountains. Credit: Kristo (2004).

Register and discuss requests for travel support by contacting Dr Andrea Opitz on opitz.andrea@wigner.hu.

This workshop is organised and supported by the Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) project, which has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 871149. 

EPEC Profiles – Nicole Costa

EPEC Profiles – Nicole Costa

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.

Nicole Costa is a PhD student in Geoscience at the University of Padova, Italy.

Currently, I am a second year PhD student in Geoscience at the University of Padova. In 2022, I had a fellowship with the Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali (IAPS-INAF) in Roma as a member of the Ma_MISS team of the ESA ExoMars2022 mission.

I took a Master’s degree (M.Sc.) in Geology and Technical Geology at the University of Padova in 2021 and a Bachelor’s degree in Geological Sciences at the University of Padova in 2019. My current PhD project is focused on understanding the composition and the stratigraphy of the upper part of the Martian North Polar Layered Deposits through the combination of hyperspectral (e.g. CRISM) and radar (e.g. SHARAD) data. The project is integrated with a laboratory analysis: development of set-up for hyperspectral acquisition at low temperatures and creation of icy slabs with Martian Simulants to analyse and compare with Martian spectral data (e.g. CRISM).

During the IAPS fellowship, I was involved in the laboratory spectra acquisition with optical fibres spectrometer prototypes in order to test them for space applications in landers or rovers. I also investigated the different relationships between geological units of the rover landing site, Oxia Planum, through geological maps and sections.

“This is the first time that I’ve worked in an EPEC team. Every year, I’ve attend the EPEC Annual Week and last year I participated in the Europlanet Research Infrastructure Meeting (ERIM). In 2021, I participated at the EPSC, online version. I’m really looking forward to hosting EPEC Annual Week in Padova!”


More information about Nicole Costa:

Contact: nicole.costa@studenti.unipd.it

Nicole Costa. Image credit: N. Costa.

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.

Issue 6 of the Europlanet Magazine is out now!

Issue 6 of the Europlanet Magazine is out now!

In this issue:

In Focus

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

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

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

Machine Learning for a Data Driven Era of Planetary Science 

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

Planetary Perspectives: Meet the New Europlanet Society Board

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

Supporting Astronomy in Ukraine

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

ERIM 2023: A New Kind of Europlanet Meeting 

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

EPEC Annual Week: A Melting Pot of Ideas 

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

Bridging the Gap Between Policy and Science 

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

The Ecological Footprint of Astronomy 

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

ERIM Goes to Schools 

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

Diving into the Heavens: The Solar System Scope Project 

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

The Making of ‘The Making of Juice’ 

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

Molėtai Magic 

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

Orionids Workshop 2023 

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

Dusting the Moon 

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

Commkit – The Dream of AI

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

The Last Word – Europlanet: A Page Turns 

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

EPSC Goes Live for Schools 2024

EPSC Goes Live for Schools 2024 / 4th edition

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

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

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

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

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

Would you like to join EPSC24 with your classroom?

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

Some of the organised activities include:

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

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

Languages supported:

The events will be held in German or English.

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

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

14th “Paolo Farinella’’ Prize, 2024 

 14th “Paolo Farinella’’ Prize, 2024 

 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 14th edition is now closed. The 14th Paolo Farinella Prize will be awarded to a young scientist with outstanding contributions in the field of planetary science concerning “Internal structure of planetary bodies: clues on formation processes of the Solar System“, including theoretical, modelling, experimental and observational work on the internal structure of solar system bodies, namely planets, satellites, and small bodies. The award winner will be honored during the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2024 in Berlin (Germany). 

For the 14th “Paolo Farinella” Prize, the terms and rules are as follows: 

1. A competition is announced to award the “Paolo Farinella” Prize for the year 2024. The prize consists of a plate, a certificate and the amount of 1500 €. The winner is expected to give a Prize Lecture during EPSC2024

2. The winner will be selected on the basis of his/her overall research results in the field of “Internal structure of planetary bodies: clues on formation processes of the Solar System“. 

3. Nominations must be sent by email not later than 15 May 2024 to the following addresses: addresses: fnimmo@ucsc.edu, acb@ua.es and david.lucchesi@inaf.it, using the form downloadable from this linkThe 2024 call is now closed.

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 15 May 2024. 

5. The winner of the prize will be selected before 15 June 2024 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

Juice Science Webinar Series: Juice One Year After Launch

Juice Science Webinar Series: Juice One Year After Launch – News and Outlook

Webinar: 12 April 2024, 14:00 CEST

On the 14th April 2023, JUICE was launched from Kourou by the last but one Ariane 5 rocket. It will spend around 8 years travelling before reaching its destination: the Jupiter system and its icy moons. One year after launch, and it is time to discuss what has been done with the JUICE team and what is the prospect for the coming years. The cruise phase from Earth to Jupiter could be perceived as eventless, we will show that this is far from the case!

This series is organised in collaboration with the Europlanet Society.

Register now!

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.”


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.


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.


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. 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.