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.
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.
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 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 !
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.
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:
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.
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:
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
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 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).
Many different topics will be covered within the ERIM programme tracks and workshops, including:
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: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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:
evening: ice breaker at the pool bar
whole day: scientific programme
morning: scientific programme
afternoon: excursion ti the new Tajogaite volcano
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).
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:
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.
Ann Carine Vandaele is the Europlanet Society’s new President Elect
Ann Carine Vandaele, Head of Planetary Atmospheres Research Unit at the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy, Brussels, was announced as the President-Elect of the Europlanet Society during the General Assembly on 22 September. Ann Carine will take over as the second President of the Europlanet Society in September 2023 when Nigel Mason‘s term of office comes to an end.
In her election Manifesto, Ann Carine explained her vision for the Europlanet Society:
After a PhD at the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium, I joined the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy where, today, I am head of the Planetary Atmospheres Division. My main scientific expertise lies in the development of remote sensing instruments, spectroscopy used by such instruments, and radiative transfer modelling through atmospheres. I am involved in several space missions (Mars and Venus Express, ExoMars TGO, JUICE, ARIEL, EnVision) and associations (the International Commission of Planetary Atmospheres and Evolution, a commission of IAMAS/IUGG; the IUGG Belgian National Committee of Geodesy and Geophysics; the Belgian National Committee on Space Research, YouSpace! ). I am the president of the Société Royale Belge d’Astronomie, de Météorologie et de Physique du Globe, whose members are academics, researchers but also amateur astronomers. I am currently the chair of the Benelux regional Hub of the Europlanet Society.
My main driver is to promote collaboration and exchange between researchers in Planetary Sciences. For me, it is important to encourage relations between education, research and industry to increase the visibility and the impact of planetary science. The Europlanet Society has the potential to be that link. I believe that the Society needs to be present at all the stages of a researcher’s life, from the very beginning, i.e. at schools and university. It is fundamental to engage a wide variety of audiences and sectors of the society not usually interested in or even excluded from science, offering to the wider general public the possibility to take part in planetary sciences. The Society should also be an active interlocutor by engaging with decision makers, like the European Space Agency or the European Commission.
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.
Cai Stoddard-Jones is a PhD student in Astrophysics at Cardiff University, UK.
I’m originally from Anglesey in North Wales but spent the first few years of my life living in Los Angeles. My Dad worked for a company there which produced the heat tiles for the space shuttle and parts for the ISS. He’d bring home test pieces and show me electron microscope images of the parts – both this and an obsession with Buzz Lightyear early on prompted a lifelong love of space.
I originally planned to study Medicine in university until a Physics lesson learning about Kepler’s laws, I thought “This is cool! Oh god, this is really cool”. I quickly switched my offer from Cardiff University to Astrophysics in 2017. Just before uni started I was fortunate to win a scholarship to attend the London International Scientific Youth Forum which opened my eyes to so many different areas of science and collaboration.
I loved the time during my degree. I had so much fun and made friends that I now can’t imagine my life without. Due to COVID, I was not ready to leave Cardiff at the end of the degree. Fortunately, the supervisor of my 4th year project, Paul Roche, was able to offer me a PhD at Cardiff, continuing cometary research that I had started in the 4th year. My project is a mix of analysis of comet 29P and its unusual outbursts, and outreach with the project ‘Comet Chasers’ (follow us on Twitter @comet_chasers). This mix gives me occasionally needed breaks from intense science and data analysis.
I’ve almost finished the first year of my PhD and I’m loving it! I have no idea what’ll happen in the future but, I’m excited to see where I go.
2022 Farinella Prize Awarded to Julie Castillo-Rogez and Martin Jutzi
Dr Julie Castillo-Rogez, a planetary scientist working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California (USA), and Dr Martin Jutzi, a physicist working at the Physics Institute of University of Bern (Switzerland), have been awarded jointly the 2022 Paolo Farinella Prize for their outstanding contributions to the field of “Asteroids: Physics, Dynamics, Modelling and Observations”. The award ceremony took place during the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022 in Granada, Spain, and was followed by a 15-minute prize lecture from each of the winners.
The annual Prize was established in 2010 to honour the memory of the Italian scientist Paolo Farinella (1953-2000). The Prize acknowledges an outstanding researcher not older than 47 years (the age of Farinella when he passed away) who has achieved important results in one of Farinella’s fields of work. Each year the Prize focuses on a different research area and, in 2022, the twelfth edition was devoted to asteroids, which in recent years have become an increasingly important area of interest for the scientific community.
Dr Castillo-Rogez has made significant contributions to our understanding of the physical and chemical evolutions of small and mid-sized Solar System bodies. Through modelling and synthesis of existing data, she has gleaned information about the origins and dynamical evolution of objects from the main belt, between Mars and Jupiter, to the trans-Neptunian region, i.e. the region that extends farther from the Sun than the planet Neptune. Her multi-disciplinary expertise, which embraces geology, geophysics and planetology, has allowed her to apply increasingly sophisticated tools to understand the geochemical evolution of objects potentially characterised by volatile elements. Dr Castillo-Rogez’s contribution was critical to the success of the Dawn mission at the dwarf planet Ceres: before the mission, her studies paved the way to understanding that Ceres likely had a subsurface ocean in its past, and might still harbour brines; after the mission, her analysis of Dawn’s data advanced the hypothesis that mid-sized cold bodies could be past or present ocean worlds.
Dr Jutzi has made outstanding contributions to the study of collisional processes involving bodies ranging from small asteroids to planetary scales. In particular, he developed a state-of-the-art Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamic (SPH) shock physics code specially suited to study the regimes of collisions among small bodies where the complex effects of material strength, friction, porosity as well as gravity determine the outcome concurrently. Dr Jutzi also succeeded in reproducing the evolution of the asteroid Vesta’s observed shape following two overlapping planet-scale collisions, and even provided maps of impact excavation and deposition of ejected materials. Recently, he contributed to the numerical modelling of the impact of NASA’s DART mission on the moon of the binary asteroid Didymos, which showed that the small moon Dimorphos may be entirely reshaped by the impact.
Overall, Dr Castillo-Rogez’s and Dr Jutzi’s work have led to a deeper understanding of the nature and evolution of asteroids, both from a theoretical and an observational point of view.
Dr Castillo-Rogez received her MS in Geophysics and her PhD in Planetary Geophysics at University of Rennes (France). She is currently Associate Scientist for the Planetary Science Directorate at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (California, USA).
Dr Jutzi received his MS in Physics at University of Bern (Switzerland) and then his PhD in Physics at University of Bern and Nice Observatory (France). He now holds the position of Senior Researcher at University of Bern.
Before receiving the Prize, Dr Castillo-Rogez commented “I am honored to win this prize, especially as there are so many deserving colleagues out there. The bulk of my work is based on the observations returned by the Cassini-Huygens and Dawn mission, both built on highly successful international collaborations. Working with these teams has been an incredible experience and led to long-lasting friendships on both sides of the Atlantic. So this makes receiving this prize at EPSC 2022 very special. Unfortunately, I have never had the privilege to meet Dr. Farinella, although I have many times referred to his work.”
Dr Jutzi said: “I am very honoured to be awarded the Paolo Farinella Prize. For me this is an important recognition of my contribution to the understanding of asteroid physics, in particular the impact processes that determined the evolution and current state of these objects – some of them being explored by ongoing space missions as we speak. I am grateful to my scientific mentors and colleagues who have helped me achieve this.”
About the Paolo Farinella Prize
The Paolo Farinella Prize (https://www.europlanet-society.org/paolo-farinella-prize/) was established to honour the memory and the outstanding figure of Paolo Farinella (1953-2000), an extraordinary scientist and person, in recognition of significant contributions given in the fields of interest of Farinella, which span from planetary sciences to space geodesy, fundamental physics, science popularisation, and security in space, weapons control and disarmament. The winner of the prize is selected each year on the basis of his/her overall research results in a chosen field, among candidates with international and interdisciplinary collaborations, not older than 47 years, the age of Farinella when he passed away, at the date of 25 March 2000. The prize was first proposed during the “International Workshop on Paolo Farinella the scientist and the man,” held in Pisa in 2010, supported by the University of Pisa, ISTI/CNR and by IAPS-INAF (Rome).
The first “Paolo Farinella Prize” was awarded in 2011 to William Bottke, for his contribution to the field of “physics and dynamics of small solar system bodies”. In 2012 the Prize went to John Chambers, for his contribution to the field of “formation and early evolution of the solar system”. In 2013, to Patrick Michel, for his work in the field of “collisional processes in the solar system.” In 2014, to David Vokrouhlicky for his contributions to “our understanding of the dynamics and physics of solar system, including how pressure from solar radiation affects the orbits of both asteroids and artificial satellites”, in 2015 to Nicolas Biver for his studies of “the molecular and isotopic composition of cometary volatiles by means of submillimetre and millimetre ground and space observations”, and in 2016 to Kleomenis Tsiganis for “his studies of the applications of celestial mechanics to the dynamics of planetary systems, including the development of the Nice model”. In 2017, to Simone Marchi for his contributions to “understanding the complex problems related to the impact history and physical evolution of the inner Solar System, including the Moon”. In 2018, to Francis Nimmo, for his contributions in our “understanding of the internal structure and evolution of icy bodies in the Solar System and the resulting influence on their surface processes”. In 2019, to Scott Sheppard and Chad Trujillo, for their outstanding collaborative work for the “observational characterisation of the Kuiper belt and the Neptune-trojan population”. In 2020, to Jonathan Fortney and Heather Knutson for their significant contribution in our “understanding of the structure, evolution and atmospheric dynamics of giant planets”. Finally, in 2021, to Diana Valencia and Lena Noack, for their significant contributions in “our understanding of the interior structure and dynamics of terrestrial and super-Earth exoplanets”.
The Europlanet Science Congress (https://www.epsc2022.eu/) formerly the European Planetary Science Congress, is the annual meeting of the Europlanet Society. With a track record of 16 years, and regularly attracting around 1000 participants, EPSC is the largest planetary science meeting in Europe. It covers the entire range of planetary sciences with an extensive mix of talks, workshops and poster sessions, as well as providing a unique space for networking and exchanges of experiences.
Since 2005, Europlanet (www.europlanet-society.org) has provided Europe’s planetary science community with a platform to exchange ideas and personnel, share research tools, data and facilities, define key science goals for the future, and engage stakeholders, policy makers and European citizens with planetary science.
The Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 871149 to provide access to state-of-the-art research facilities and a mechanism to coordinate Europe’s planetary science community.
The Europlanet Society promotes the advancement of European planetary science and related fields for the benefit of the community and is open to individual and organisational members. The Europlanet Society is the parent organisation of the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC).
The European Astrobiology Network Association (http://www.eana-net.eu), joins together people interested in the origins of life and the search for extraterrestrial life in the Solar System and beyond. This interdisciplinary domain involves scientists from multiple disciplines such as chemistry, physics, biology, geology, astronomy, and human sciences.
A Journey to the Planets: how to make children fall in love with space
Making children curious about space and planetary sciences through play and puppet theatre is the idea conceived and developed by Katia Pinheiro and the team of “Journey to the Planets“, the winning proposal of this year’s Europlanet Funding scheme for public engagement.
The project will start by producing a series of short movies with stories about the planets told by Bimbim’s team, an original and funny puppet theatre. The videos will come with illustrations and animations to better express the scientific content which, for now, will focus on a general overview of all Solar System planets, the Earth and Mars.
The promise is that more will come, thanks to the support and work of many researchers from Germany, Macedonia, India, Argentina, UK, and the producer and the theatre companies from Brazil. Reflecting the international nature of the project, the videos will be translated into several languages (initially Portuguese, English and French), in hopes of reaching an international scale.
Federica Duras interviewed the project leader Katia Pinheiro, who nurtures a passion for science outreach, especially directed to children. This project is an opportunity to pursue her dream to combine the two.
–Katia, where does “Journey to the Planets” come from? What’s the trigger behind it? I want to transmit science to children. Initiating children into scientific subjects is not a trivial task. I thought about a way to attract their attention and a way to encourage their critical thinking and active participation. Puppet theatre seemed to be a good idea since puppets have the power to fascinate children. Charismatic characters as interlocutors may talk about science in an unconventional and fun way. The strategy to combine science and art may be a powerful way to awaken children’s curiosity about planetary sciences.
–Why Bimbim? What is that? Bimbim is the nickname for Jobim, who was a famous composer of Brazilian music. I gave his name to a smart and funny small dog some years ago. This little dog was very charismatic and liked to “talk” to everybody around him, especially children. He is the inspiration for the protagonist of the stories: courageous, curious and fun!
–How many people are involved in the creation and subsequent implementation of the project?
There are 15 people involved in the different parts of the project: story writing, production, filming, puppet manipulation, dubbing and animation. This project brings together artists and scientists from different parts of the world working on various research areas. All the co-applicants of this project are female professionals of arts and science. The scientific co-applicants will participate with ideas and scientific content for the stories. The theatre company “Papa Vento” is involved in the artistic part and they will manipulate the puppets. An audiovisual director and producer will capture the images in the best way to tell the stories.
–What is the near future of the project? We will produce short movies with three stories about the planets: a general overview of all solar system planets, Earth and Mars. The release of the movies will be in January, 2023. We expect that these stories will also call the attention of schools and parents to bring science closer to their children. Another project outcome is the large involvement of female scientists and thus the possibility of attracting children from under-represented groups to become scientists. Our target audience is primarily school students between the ages of 2 and 8 years old but it also involves the audience of educators. The plan is to share the videos with many schools and social media channels across Europe and other countries worldwide.
–What do you expect from Europlanet as a link for the project? Europlanet is a very important link for starting the first science story of “Bimbim’s team”. The support of Europlanet for outreach and education projects promotes new initiatives and, in the case of this project, tackles the challenge of reaching as many children as possible and awakening their curiosity for planetary sciences. The dissemination of the puppet videos by Europlanet will encourage more scientists and organisations to take the step of creating something similar and spreading the word. In addition, the commitment of Europlanet to equality, diversity and inclusivity perfectly matches the intentions of this project.
–And what about the distant future of “Journey to the planets”? We plan to extend these stories to other planets and science topics in the near future. We expect that after these videos are ready, schools and companies may become interested and request presentations in place or other online videos with science stories. New stories coming in the future will be about the deep Earth, ocean, space and others. We believe that once we start this project, new ideas will emerge that will be the seed for next larger projects.
Fingers crossed, we look forward to following the first steps of Bimbim and its friends! Thanks Katia.
Europlanet General Assembly – 22 September 2022, Granada, Spain
The Europlanet General Assembly will take place on Thursday, 22 September during the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022 in Granada, Spain.
All the members of the Society are entitled to attend the meeting. Members will be sent details by email of how they can vote on motions proposed during the General Assembly and how to participate in the ballot to elect the next President of the Europlanet Society, who will take up the Presidency in 2023 when the term of our first President, Nigel Mason, comes to an end.
Members wishing to have matters included on the agenda should inform the Secretary in writing at least 14 days prior to the meeting.
The Europlanet team has been taking part in a number of meetings and events over the past few weeks. For the first time since 2019, the Europlanet banner stand has been on display in exhibitions at conferences, including the European Astronomical Society (EAS) Annual Meeting and the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF).
EAS 2022, which took place in Valencia from 27 June – 1 July, was attended by close to 2000 people, with 1700 participating in person. An eight-strong team from the Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) took part in the meeting, crewing a stand and presenting Europlanet activities on mentoring, the Europlanet Telescope Network, outreach and global collaboration. Europlanet was joined on its stand by its sister EU-funded project, EXPLORE, which is developing machine learning tools to exploit planetary and space data, as well as Planets In A Room (PIAR), the low-cost spherical projection system developed by Speak Science and INAF with Europlanet funding. The team talked to several hundred people over the course of the week, and distributed copies of the latest issue of the Europlanet Magazine, as well as stickers and leaflets.
ESOF 2022, held in Leiden from 13-16 July, was the tenth edition of the largest European interdisciplinary science conference. Europlanet organised a session ‘To Mars and Beyond’ in Pieterskerk, attended by around 50 delegates, on July 14 and took part in the exhibition throughout the meeting, giving participants and opportunity to hold some real rocks from space