Impacts of Europlanet 2020 Research Infrastructure

Impacts of Europlanet 2020 Research Infrastructure

As we prepare to submit the final report for Europlanet 2020 Research Infrastructre (RI), which ran from 1st September 2015 – 31st August 2019, we look back at some of the achievements and outcomes.

What was Europlanet 2020 RI?

Europlanet received €9.95 million funding under the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme to implement an advanced research infrastructure for planetary science. Europlanet 2020 RI was coordinated by the Open University, UK, with 34 beneficiary institutions from 20 European countries.

As a mature service, Europlanet 2020 RI placed particular emphasis on widening the participation of previously under-represented research communities and stakeholders, including the newer EU Member States.

Europlanet 2020 RI has provided:

• Free transnational access to world-class laboratory facilities that simulate conditions found on planetary bodies, as well as analogue fields sites for Mars, Europa and Titan.
• Virtual access to the diverse datasets and visualisation tools needed for comparing and understanding planetary environments in the Solar System and beyond.
• Networking activities, including meetings, workshops and personnel exchanges, to strengthen the community, develop industry-academic collaboration, discuss the latest scientific results, and set the strategy and goals for planetary science in Europe for decades to come.
• Outreach and education programmes to engage Europe’s citizens, teachers, students and policy makers with cutting-edge planetary science and exploration.

Transnational Access impacts:

TA visit to the Danakil field site in Ethiopia. Credit: Alex Pritz
  • The 5 calls for Transnational Access generated 320 applications and 195 completed visits to facilities
  • Over 1400 days of access were provided to state-of-the-art planetary laboratory facilities and field sites, resulting in high impact publications, including in the Nature and Science family of journals.
  • Europlanet 2020 RI assembled the world’s largest coordinated collection of planetary simulation and analysis facilities.
  • Sample return handling protocols and ultra-sensitive isotopic analysis techniques have been augmented through Europlanet 2020 RI.
  • Capabilities have been extended at the Wind Tunnel Simulators at Aarhus for simulations under Mars and Titan environmental conditions with funding from through Europlanet 2020 RI.
  • New spectro-goniometers have been developed at Grenoble with improved sensitivity down to very low albedos and the ability to measure small samples such as rare meteorites.
  • DLR’s high temperature chamber has been upgraded; it is now the only facility worldwide capable of performing spectral measurements of Venus surface analogues at realistic surface temperatures.
  • The Danakil Depression has been characterised as a terrestrial analogue for extreme hydrothermal environments on Mars, Venus, Io and Ganymede.
  • 1013 Ohm resistors validated within Europlanet 2020 RI have been released by ThermoFisher as a commercial product, opening up new potential applications for a very broad range of planetary and non-planetary users.

Virtual Access Impacts:

2nd Planetary Mapping and Virtual Observatory Workshop. Credit: OpenPlanetary
  • Over 50 planetary datasets are now accessible through the VESPA (Virtual European Solar and Planetary Access) virtual observatory developed through Europlanet 2020 RI. http://vespa.obspm.fr/
  • The Europlanet Table Access Protocol (EPN-TAP) developed for VESPA has been adopted as standard by the International Planetary Data Alliance and ESA’s Planetary Science Archive.
  • Planetary Space Weather Service (PSWS) toolkits created to track planetary or solar events through the Solar System have attracted over 15,000 users from academia and industry worldwide.

Networking Activity Impacts:

Europlanet Summer School 2019. Credit: Marina Carmona Ruiz
Europlanet Summer School 2019. Credit: Marina Carmona Ruiz
  • 84 workshops and training sessions organised during Europlanet 2020 RI have been attended by more than 3,000 researchers, industrial representatives, outreach professionals, teachers and policy makers.
  • Over 1,200 EU companies have been identified with an interest in provision of solutions or services to planetary scientists, or with an interest in recruiting planetary graduates.
  • Thousands of media stories on planetary results have been generated around the world.
  • More than 130,000 Euros of seed-funding from Europlanet 2020 RI has supported outreach projects across Europe.

Inspiring stories – Painting the unseen

Inspiring stories – Painting the unseen

In this EPEC Inspiring Outreach Story, Mai Wada from the University of the Arts London tells us how she has been working with two early career astronomers to enhance our understanding of the universe.

Painting the unseen is an effort to combine scientific data with art to visualise celestial objects, such as exoplanets, that are studied through science but not seen by naked eye. From the early stages of our civilisation, science and art have been two fundamental ingredients of human intelligence that are closely bonded to each other.

Today, our understanding of the Universe has improved tremendously thanks to scientific and technological developments. The question that arises is what can artists and scientists create together in the context of the rapidly changing field of space and astronomy sciences? We started our project in order to address the challenge of creating a unique perspective of the Universe by connecting science and art together.

I am Mai Wada: I am a painter, and for the last year I have been collaborating with two astronomers, Anastasia Kokori and Angelos Tsiaras. Through this collaboration, I have produced a couple of exoplanet paintings. The uniqueness of our project is the nature of our collaboration: two scientists and an artist without any scientific background who didn’t know each other before. We started without a specific methodology or format for how to work together and our image-making process has always been an experiment in itself. We have been working together to create an ideal visualisation of some known exoplanets. The fascinating thing in the project was that the entire process was new to us all.

Left to right: Angelos Tsiaras, Mai Wada and Anastasia Kokori at the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019

For myself, the project was an opportunity to learn the latest news and understand more about exoplanets. This experience was entirely new to me and was a great inspiration for my artistic creativity. For the scientists, it was a challenge to present the properties of the exoplanets to me, as these objects cannot be seen by naked eye. They had to help me visualise pure scientific data, observations and calculations.

Methodology

We agreed that our common ground is our curiosity to reveal the mysteries of the world. Despite the fact that art and science have different approaches and processes, we (artists and scientists) are both working towards understanding this world better. Soon, we realised that we had a common aim – to create a unique and new perspective to enhance the human understanding of the Universe.

However, sometimes it seemed to me that art and science were two parallel worlds, with common aims but no interaction with each other. Science approaches the world through a universal perspective, using observations and interpretations. On the other hand, artists use personal experience and feelings to express the world. It took us a long time to understand what science and art can really do together on a practical level and how we could bring these two worlds together. We finally divided the artmaking process into three phases: scientific research, artistic research, and the painting making process summarising both scientific and artistic views.

At the beginning (scientific research phase), I studied exoplanets as a scientist, by interviewing my collaborators. This phase lasted for a long time, as I had to understand a new field from scratch. My collaborators had to explain to me how they are obtaining information about the exoplanets – since we don’t observe them but only the light from their host stars that has been filtered through their atmospheres. I learned what chemical composition can be predicted from the data so far and what predictions we make for the temperature and the weather there.

For the artistic research part, I tried to connect the scientific data with my personal experience and envision the exoplanets. For example, by touching materials around me that could exist on these exoplanets, by watching relevant films, by listening to the sounds of other planets, or even by feeling a similar temperature to the particular planets. This part was flexible and depended on how much data scientists have – or have estimated – about the planets.

For the final process, the painting-making, I made a painting following my creativity after carrying out all this research. In that process, I mostly cared about the material and the technique. I used oil paint for all of them, but the tableau, the size, the way of prime, or thickness of oil, all varied for each exoplanet.

Results

Press briefing with Angelos presenting his research (left) and May presenting her painting (centre).

Recently, one painting was presented in a press briefing about the announcement of water vapour in the atmosphere of K2-18b (doi.org/10.1038/s41550-019-0878-9). The briefing was attended by many journalists (including TV and newspapers) who were attracted by the painting and took photos and used it to illustrate their articles and stories. I felt very happy because the panting could bring other people closer to the science of exoplanets. It could help them visualise K2-18b and understand more the discovery that was published that day. In addition, we presented our work in the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 and attracted both scientists’ and artists’ attention.

Mai’s painting presented at EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019

Our experience is that art is quite accessible and we believe that art can act as a bridge between scientists and the public. Scientists and artists were looking at our work and were talking about the nature of exoplanets. We were really satisfied with the result, because this means that the aesthetic visualisation of a scientific object has created an effective context for people to talk about distant planets without any limitation. We plan to continue our project and we hope that our project will reach a wider audience, not only scientists and artists. Our story has just begun.

More paintings and info for Mai Wada here: https://www.maiwada.com

Do you like this story and want more? Browse our archive of EPEC Inspiring Stories and get inspired!

Highlights from EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019

Highlights from EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019

1. The biggest Joint Meeting to date! With 1731 attendees, EPSC-DPS 2019 was the biggest joint meeting of EPSC and DPS to date, beating the records of 1532 participants in Nantes in 2011 and 1400+ in Pasadena in 2016.

2. Prize winners and talks. Congratulations to all the EPSC and DPS prize winners 2019.

3. Open Mic. Who knew just how multitalented our community could be?

4. Diversity and inclusion. Diversity and inclusion were centre stage at the meeting in 2019, with dedicated oral and poster sessions, the keynote diversity lecture and a packed Women in Planetary Science lunchtime discussion.

5. Early Career support. The EPEC network organised a comprehensive programme to support early career participants at EPSC-DPS 2019, including a mentoring scheme, short courses and social events. Thanks to the EPEC-EPSC team for all their efforts.

6. Celebrating planets in Geneva. From the baggage carousel at the airport to the 1:1 scale model of the VLT in the Plaine de Plainpalais, Geneva embraced exploration of planets in our own Solar System and beyond. Thanks to the LOC for their efforts.

7. Moons Symphony. We were blown away by the incredible Moons Symphony, presented by Amanda Falkenberg during EPSC-DPS 2019.

8. The Exhibition. From models of CHEOPS to the full VR experience, thanks to our exhibitors for their eye-catching contributions to the meeting.

9. Science. A total of 1938 presentations were scheduled at the meeting, including 1062 orals and 876 posters in 58 sessions, plus 39 splinter workshops and 16 community events. Many thanks to the SOC for putting together such an enormous and varied programme.

10. Community. The whole point of EPSC-DPS joint meetings is to bring the global planetary community together! As well as almost 1000 European and over 600 US participants, we welcomed over 90 attendees from Asia as well as researchers from Africa, Australia, Canada, Central and South America.

A big thank you to the Joint Organising Committee, the Conveners, the Session Chairs, the Conference Assistants and Copernicus for organising a great meeting.

Raising awareness of the effects of light pollution

Raising awareness of the effects of light pollution

Among the various forms of pollution, light pollution is one of the least known but still has a major impact on our environment. The excessive presence of artificial light in the night environment affects animals and plants, influencing their growth, interactions and threating the balance of the entire ecosystem. It also prevents astronomers from observing a clear starry sky. And, of course, it represents a waste of energy.

To raise awareness of light pollution, particularly with the next generation, a team of researchers from the NUCLIO Institute (Núcleo Interativo de Astronomia, Portugal) and the EPFL Istitute (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland) has created a web simulator to demonstrate the impact of artificial light. The software, developed in the framework of the Dark Skies Rangers project, was presented by Dr Juan Carlos Farah of EPFL at the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 in Geneva last month.

We want to raise awareness of the importance of using efficient illuminating systems and preserving the night sky and so have created this resource for education and outreach.” said Dr Gomes.

The Light Pollution Simulator depicts a nocturnal countryside scene, initially with a starry sky unaffected by light pollution.


A screenshot of the Light Pollution Simulator: the default screen. Credit: Dr. Gomes

When the user clicks the center of the screen, they add a lamp post to the scene, affecting the visibility of the stars in the night sky. If multiple lamp posts are added, the effect is compounded.

A screenshot of the Light Pollution Simulator: the scene after adding three lamps. The negative impact of lights is clear.

The lamps can also be lowered or covered with a shield. Users can test how the height of the lamps and the type of shielding can make a differenct to the visibility of the starry sky. The Moon phases can also be simulated and compared to artificial lights.

As well as visual effects, the simulator shows the wider impacts on the environoment and ecosystem. If it is dark enough, the user can hear crickets chirping and owls hooting; if the scene is too illuminated then the user will hear birds singing, as if it were dawn.

A screenshot of the Light Pollution Simulator: the same scene after adding a shield to the lamps. The slight decrease of the negative impact of the lights in the night sky is noticeable.

In addition to raising awareness of the issue of light pollution for the observation of the sky and for the overall natural environment, we would also like to draw attention to the waste of energy and the use of intelligent systems of lighting,” said Dr Gomes. “For this reason, we are planning to implement several add-ons in the near future, such as a cost estimator and some mini-games.”

Try out the light pollution simulator.

Gateway into Inner Solar System Discovered, Finding May Alter Fundamental Understanding of Comet Evolution

Gateway into Inner Solar System Discovered, Finding May Alter Fundamental Understanding of Comet Evolution

A new study may fundamentally alter our understanding of how comets arrive from the outskirts of the solar system and are funneled to the inner solar system coming closer to Earth. 

At the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 in Geneva, planetary scientist Dr. Jordan Steckloff presented the discovery of an orbital ‘Gateway’ through which many comets pass just before they approach our Sun. The Gateway was uncovered as part of a suite of orbital simulations of Centaurs, a group of small icy bodies traveling on chaotic orbits between Jupiter and Neptune. The study team modeled the evolution of bodies from beyond Neptune’s orbit, through the giant planet region and inside Jupiter’s orbit. These icy bodies are considered nearly pristine remnants of material from the birth of our solar system.

For a long time, evolution pathwayof comets from their original formation location inwards towards the Sun, has been debated. “How do new comets, controlled by Jupiter’s influence, replace those that are lost? Where is the transition between residing in the outer solar system, as small dormant bodies, and becoming active inner solar system bodies, exhibiting a widespread gas and dust coma and tail?” asked Steckloff. These questions remained a mystery until now. “What we discovered, the Gateway model as a ‘cradle of comets’, will change the way we think about the history of icy bodies,” said Dr. Gal Sarid (University of Central Florida), the lead scientist for the study. 

Centaurs are thought to originate in the Kuiper Belt region beyond Neptune and are considered as the source population of Jupiter Family Comets (JFCs), which occupy the inner solar system. The chaotic nature of Centaur orbits obscures their exact pathways making it difficult to predict their future as comets.  When icy bodies like Centaurs or comets approach the Sun, they begin to release gas and dust to produce the coma and extended tails that we refer to as comets. This display is among the most impressive phenomena observable in the night sky, but it is also a fleeting flicker of beauty that is rapidly followed by either the destruction of the comet or its evolution to a dormant state, said team member Dr. Kathryn Volk (Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, The University of Arizona). 

The original goal of the investigation was to explore the history of a peculiar Centaur object – 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 1 (SW1). It is a mid-sized Centaur in a nearly circular orbit just beyond Jupiter. SW1 has long puzzled astronomers with its high activity and frequent explosive outbursts that occur at a distance from the Sun where ice should not effectively vaporize. Both its orbit and activity put SW1 in an evolutionary middle ground between the other Centaurs and the JFCs. The research team wanted to explore whether SW1’s current circumstances were consistent with the orbital progression of the other Centaurs. 

“More than one in five Centaurs that we tracked were found to enter an orbit similar to that of SW1 at some point in their lifetime,” said Dr. Maria Womack (Florida Space Institute), scientist and co-author of the study. “Rather than being a peculiar outlier, SW1 is a Centaur caught in the act of dynamically evolving into a JFC.” 

In addition to the commonplace nature of SW1’s orbit, the simulations lead to an even more surprising discovery. “Centaurs passing through this region are the source of more than two thirds of all JFCs, making this the primary Gateway through which these comets are produced,” said team member Dr. Walter Harris (Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, The University of Arizona). The Gateway region does not hold resident objects for long, with most Centaurs becoming JFCs within a few thousand years. This is a short portion of any solar system object’s lifetime, which can span millions and sometimes billions of years. 

The presence of the Gateway provides a long sought after means of identifying the Centaurs on an imminent trajectory toward the inner solar system. SW1 is currently the largest and most active of the handful of objects discovered in this Gateway region, which makes it a “prime candidate to advance our knowledge of the orbital and physical transitions that shape the comet population we see today,” said team member Dr. Laura Woodney (California State University San Bernardino).

Our understanding of comets is intimately linked to knowing our solar system’s early composition and the evolution of conditions for atmospheres and life to arise, the researchers said. The results of this study have recently been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.  

Image

An artist rendered image of what Centaur SW1 would look like as an inner solar system Jupiter-Family comet at a distance of 0.2 AU (30 million km, 19 million miles) from Earth. The Moon is in the upper right part of the frame for scale. (Credit/Copyright: University of Arizona/Heather Roper).

Media contacts

The authors of this study are all members of the Chimera mission concept, a proposed mission to send a spacecraft to orbit 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 1 for a 30 month investigation of its evolution, dynamics and activity. This work is funded in part by grants from NSF (1615917, 1824869, 1910275, and 1945950) and NASA (80NSSC18K0497, NNX15AH59G, 80NSSC19K0785).

Anita Heward
EPSC Press Officer
+44 7756 034243
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Livia Giacomini
EPSC Press Officer
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Adriana Postiglione
EPSC Press Officer
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Shantanu Naidu
DPS Press Officer
dpspress@aas.org

Notes for Editors

EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019
The 2019 Joint Meeting (www.epsc-dps2019.eu) of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) of the Europlanet Society and the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) will take place at the Centre International de Conférences de Genève (CICG), Geneva, Switzerland, from Sunday 15 to Friday 20 September 2019. More than 1950 abstracts have been submitted and over 1500 planetary scientists from Europe, the US and around the world are expected to attend the meeting, making it one of the largest gatherings of planetary scientists held in Europe to date.
The EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 will be the third time that EPSC and the DPS Annual Meeting have been held together.
Follow: @europlanetmedia #EPSCDPS2019

Europlanet
The Europlanet Society, launched in September 2018, is an organization for individual and corporate members to promote the advancement of planetary science and related fields in Europe. The Society provides Europe’s planetary science community with a platform to exchange ideas and personnel, share research tools, data and facilities, define key science goals for the future, and engage stakeholders, policy makers and European citizens with planetary science. The Europlanet Society is the parent organisation of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC).
Europlanet Society website: www.europlanet-society.org
EPSC-DPSC 2019 Joint Meeting 2019 website: www.epsc-dps2019.eu

DPS
The Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS), founded in 1968, is the largest special-interest Division of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Members of the DPS study the bodies of our own solar system, from planets and moons to comets and asteroids, and all other solar-system objects and processes. With the discovery that planets exist around other stars, the DPS has expanded its scope to include the study of extrasolar planetary systems as well.

The AAS, established in 1899, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. The membership (approx. 7,500) also includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers, and others whose research interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising contemporary astronomy. The mission of the AAS is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe, which it achieves through publishing, meeting organization, education and outreach, and training and professional development.

EPSC 2020 in the Heart of Granada

EPSC 2020 in the Heart of Granada

The European Planetary Science Congress 2020 will take place in Granada, Spain from 27 September – 2 October 2020.. Many thanks to the Local Organising Committee for sharing this video with us. We hope to see you there!

Comet’s collapsing cliffs and bouncing boulders

Comet’s collapsing cliffs and bouncing boulders 

Scientists analysing the treasure trove of images taken by ESA’s Rosetta mission have turned up more evidence for curious bouncing boulders and dramatic cliff collapses.

Rosetta operated at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko between August 2014 and September 2016, collecting data on the comet’s dust, gas and plasma environment, its surface characteristics and its interior structure.

As part of the analysis of some 76 000 high-resolution images captured with its OSIRIS camera, scientists have been looking for surface changes. In particular, they are interested in comparing the period of the comet’s closest approach to the Sun – known as perihelion – with that after this most active phase, to better understand the processes that drive surface evolution.

Loose debris is seen all over the comet, but sometimes boulders have been caught in the act of being ejected into space, or rolling across the surface. A new example of a bouncing boulder was recently identified in the smooth neck region that connects the comet’s two lobes, an area that underwent a lot of noticeable large-scale surface changes over the course of the mission. There, boulder about 10 m-wide has apparently fallen from the nearby cliff, and bounced several times across the surface without breaking, leaving ‘footprints’ in the loosely consolidated surface material.

“We think it fell from the nearby 50 m-high cliff, and is the largest fragment in this landslide, with a mass of about 230 tonnes,” said Jean-Baptiste Vincent of the DLR Institute for Planetary Research, who presented the results at the EPSC-DPS conference in Geneva today.

“So much happened on this comet between May and December 2015 when it was most active, but unfortunately because of this activity we had to keep Rosetta at a safe distance. As such we don’t have a close enough view to see illuminated surfaces with enough resolution to exactly pinpoint the ‘before’ location of the boulder.”

Studying boulder movements like these in different parts of the comet helps determine the mechanical properties of both the falling material, and the surface terrain on which it lands. The comet’s material is in general very weak compared with the ice and rocks we are familiar with on Earth: boulders on Comet 67P/C-G are around one hundred times weaker than freshly packed snow.

Another type of change has also been witnessed in several locations around the comet: the collapse of cliff faces along lines of weakness, such as the dramatic capture of the fall of a 70 m-wide segment of the Aswan cliff observed in July 2015. But Ramy El-Maarry and Graham Driver of Birkbeck, University of London, may have found an even larger collapse event, linked to a bright outburst seen on 12 September 2015 along the northern-southern hemisphere divide.

“This seems to be one of the largest cliff collapses we’ve seen on the comet during Rosetta’s lifetime, with an area of about 2000 square metres collapsing,” said Ramy, also speaking at EPSC-DPS today.

During perihelion passage, the southern hemisphere of the comet was subjected to high solar input, resulting in increased levels of activity and more intensive erosion than elsewhere on the comet.

“Inspection of before and after images allow us to ascertain that the scarp was intact up until at least May 2015, for when we still have high enough resolution images in that region to see it,” says Graham, an undergraduate student working with Ramy to investigate Rosetta’s vast image archive.

“The location in this particularly active region increases the likelihood that the collapsing event is linked to the outburst that occurred in September 2015.”

Looking in detail at the debris around the collapsed region suggests that other large erosion events have happened here in the past. Ramy and Graham found that the debris includes blocks of variable size ranging up to tens of metres, substantially larger than the boulder population following the Aswan cliff collapse, which is mainly comprised of boulders a few metres diameter.

“This variability in the size distribution of the fallen debris suggests either differences in the strength of the comet’s layered materials, and/or varying mechanisms of cliff collapse,” adds Ramy.

Studying comet changes like these not only gives insight into the dynamic nature of these small bodies on short timescales, but the larger scale cliff collapses provide unique views into the internal structure of the comet, helping to piece together the comet’s evolution over longer timescales.

“Rosetta’s datasets continue to surprise us, and it’s wonderful the next generation of students are already making exciting discoveries,” adds Matt Taylor, ESA’s Rosetta project scientist.

Cliff collapses on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko following outbursts as observed by the Rosetta mission, by M. R. El-Maarry and G. Driver
https://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EPSC-DPS2019/EPSC-DPS2019-1727-1.pdf

Bouncing boulders on Comet 67P by J-B. Vincent et al
https://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EPSC-DPS2019/EPSC-DPS2019-502-1.pdf

Evolution of a bouncing boulder

Caption: An example of a boulder having moved across the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko’s surface, captured in Rosetta’s OSIRIS imagery.

The first image (left) provides a reference view of the comet, along with a close-up of the region under study. The smaller insets on the right show before and after images of the region containing the bouncing boulder, captured on 17 March 2015 and 19 June 2016, respectively. Impressions of the boulder have been left in the soft regolith covering the comet’s surface as it bounced to a halt. It is thought to have fallen from the nearby cliff, which is about 50 m high. The graphic at the bottom illustrates the path of the boulder as it bounced across the surface, with preliminary measurements of the ‘craters’ calculated. 

Credits: Images: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA (CC BY-SA 4.0); Analysis: J-B. Vincent et al (2019)
Comet outburst 12 September 2015 Caption: An outburst event on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko took place on 12 September 2015 and is thought to be associated with one of the most dramatic cliff collapses captured during the lifetime of the Rosetta mission. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Cliff collapse before and after

Caption: Before and after a cliff collapse on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. In the upper panels the yellow arrows show the location of a scarp at the boundary between the illuminated northern hemisphere and the dark southern hemisphere of the small lobe at times before and after the outburst event (September 2014 and June 2016, respectively). The lower panels show close-ups of the upper panels; the blue arrow points to the scarp that appears to have collapsed in the image after the outburst. Two boulders (1and 2) are marked for orientation. 

Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Media contacts

Anita Heward

EPSC Press Officer

+44 7756 034243

epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Livia Giacomini

EPSC Press Officer

epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Adriana Postiglione

EPSC Press Officer

epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Shantanu Naidu

DPS Press Officer

dpspress@aas.org

Notes for Editors

EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019

The 2019 Joint Meeting (www.epsc-dps2019.eu) of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) of the Europlanet Society and the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) will take place at the Centre International de Conférences de Genève (CICG), Geneva, Switzerland, from Sunday 15 to Friday 20 September 2019. More than 1950 abstracts have been submitted and over 1500 planetary scientists from Europe, the US and around the world are expected to attend the meeting, making it one of the largest gatherings of planetary scientists held in Europe to date.

The EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 ia the third time that EPSC and the DPS Annual Meeting have been held together.

Follow: @europlanetmedia #EPSCDPS2019

Europlanet Society

The Europlanet Society, launched in September 2018, is an organization for individual and corporate members to promote the advancement of planetary science and related fields in Europe. The Society provides Europe’s planetary science community with a platform to exchange ideas and personnel, share research tools, data and facilities, define key science goals for the future, and engage stakeholders, policy makers and European citizens with planetary science. The Europlanet Society is the parent organisation of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC).

Europlanet Society website: www.europlanet-society.org

EPSC-DPSC 2019 Joint Meeting 2019 website: www.epsc-dps2019.eu

DPS

The Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS), founded in 1968, is the largest special-interest Division of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Members of the DPS study the bodies of our own solar system, from planets and moons to comets and asteroids, and all other solar-system objects and processes. With the discovery that planets exist around other stars, the DPS has expanded its scope to include the study of extrasolar planetary systems as well.

The AAS, established in 1899, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. The membership (approx. 7,500) also includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers, and others whose research interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising contemporary astronomy. The mission of the AAS is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe, which it achieves through publishing, meeting organization, education and outreach, and training and professional development.

Live Press Briefing on Cheops Mission

Live Press Briefing on Cheops Mission

Watch Live on YouTube

Submit questions during the briefing via the YouTube chat window, via Twitter @europlanetmedia, or email epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org.

The meeting hashtag is #EPSCDPS2019.

Monday 16th September, 12:15-13:15 CEST (10:15-11:15 UTC / 06:15-07:15 EDT)
Cheops mission update

Michel Mayor (University of Geneva) – Exoplanets in context
Kate Isaak (European Space Agency) – Cheops mission status
Willy Benz (University of Bern) – Cheops – An exoplanet follow-up mission
Ravit Helled (University of Zurich) – Cheops contribution to open questions in (exo)planetary science
David Ehrenreich (University of Geneva) – Cheops in the context of other exoplanet missions

EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 Early Career Programme

EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 Early Career Programme

The EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 will have a packed programme of Early Career events organised by EPEC, the Europlanet Society’s Early Career Network. All EPEC events are free of charge, and no registration is required, except where explicitly mentioned. Please note that no lunch is served at the events.

Download the EPEC EPSC-DPS 2019 Flyer

Would you like to know more about EPEC? Please stop by our booth at the Europlanet Stand on Level 0 of CICG. We will be there all week!

Sunday, 15th September

 The Discovery Challenge 

For the first time ever at EPSC! The Discovery Challenge is a fun game to find out more about your fellow early career scientists’ research. Please sign up on Sunday evening to participate in the game. More details may be found on the poster at the EPEC booth! 

15:30 – 17:30 – Icebreaker Reception

17:15–18:30 – Life stories – a career in planetology (Saturn Room 2) – co-organised by EPEC and the Europlanet Society Diversity Committee

This lecture by Nader Haghighipour, organised by the Europlanet Diversity Committee, will be an opportunity to hear the speaker’s story about his life in planetary science, his personal and professional challenges, highlights and top tips for a successful career.

Monday, 16th September

17:15-18:30 – EPEC Short Course: From science to science communications (Ceres Room 14)

The ESA Rosetta mission is a very good example to show how big impact a space mission can have, not only on the scientific community, but also on the general public. Emily Baldwin is an ESA science editor She will talk about her experience moving from a PhD in Planetary Science to writing for ESA’s Space Science Portal, and everything in between! Of course, we cannot communicate our PhD topic on a scale comparable to the Rosetta mission, but good science communication already starts on small scales.

Tuesday, 17th September

12:15-13:15 – EPEC Short Course: Thriving, not surviving, during PhD (Ceres Room 14)

Keeping work and leisure time in a healthy balance can be difficult, during your PhD as well as afterwards. Alan Percy head of counselling services at Oxford University, will talk about the importance of mental health, and give hands on tips and advices how to manage work mania and recovery times.

Wednesday, 18th September

12:15-13:15 – Women in Planetary Science Discussion Hour (Saturn Room 2) – co-organised with the DPS, the Europlanet Society Diversity Committee and EPEC.

Thursday, 19th September

12:15-13:15 – Europlanet Society General Assembly

15:30-17:00 – EPEC Science Flash (Mercury Room)

The fourth annual Science Flash is taking place at EPSC! This is the chance to win one of the famous Science Flash trophies.

This is your chance to win a spacey prize! What you have to do? Easy! Just sign up by getting in contact with Noah Jäggi and come to the Ceres room on Wednesday afternoon. There, you will become an entertainer for 180 seconds to present your research in a fun way. That’s all 😉

You are also kindly invited to attend the event as the audience to
enjoy, listen, watch and smile, and to help us identifying the
winning presentations.

For more details, please have a look at the seperate Science Flash
flyer. Sign up now! noah jaeggi@space.unibe.ch

19:00 – EPEC Social Event

Just a fun evening at the bar…

Where? At the « PickWick », Rue de Lausanne 80 (Bus/ Tram: Butini). First come, first served.

The first 50 persons arriving at the bar (starting from 19:00) will be given a voucher for one free drink!

Friday, 20th September

12:15–13:15 EPEC short course: ESA mission proposals – A field report (Ceres Room 14)

Have you ever wondered how you could become involved in an ESA mission proposal? Or what stages such a mission proposal goes through before becoming reality?

Jakob Deller from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Göttingen, will talk about the progression of the initial idea to the proposal submission and mission selection, and share his experiences of being involved in an ESA F (fast) class mission proposal

Europlanet Society Executive Board Elections

Europlanet Society Executive Board Elections

Closing date for nomination of Candidates: 22 August 2019

The elections for the Executive Board, which will oversee the governance of the Europlanet Society, will be held at the General Assembly on 19 September 2019, in Geneva. The Executive Board will consist of five Officers (President, two Vice-Presidents, Secretary and Treasurer) and six Board MembersMembers of the Board shall normally hold office for a period of four years. The Board will meet in person at the annual EPSC meeting and at one other point during the year. Board members will be required to attend additional meetings via telecon.

We strongly encourage you to nominate dedicated and pro-active members of our Society as candidates for the elections by 22 August 2019. Each nomination must be backed by two Members of the Society, other than the Nominee.

The Europlanet Society Nomination Committee will then compile a ballot list from the nominations, and the elections will be carried out from 9 to 18 September 2019, via an online ballot platform. The results of the elections will be announced during the General Assembly.

Roles and Responsibilities of the Executive Board members

The Executive Board shall be the governing body of the Europlanet Society and shall manage, direct and control the affairs and property of the Society within the limits of its Constitution. The Board may delegate some of its powers to a Committee, to some of its officers or to its designated agent.

The Executive Board will:

  • Ensure that the Society complies with its Constitution and other relevant regulations.
  • Ensure that the Society applies its resources exclusively in pursuance of its objectives, giving firm strategic direction to the organisation, setting overall policy, defining goals, setting targets and evaluating performance against agreed targets.
  • Ensure proper and effective use of the Society’s resources whilst maintaining and enhancing the reputation and profile of the Society.
  • Ensure effective presentation of and interaction with the membership. Oversee the processes for election and progression of its members. Oversee the activities of the Executive Office.
  • Safeguard the good name and ethos of the Society.

President

The President is the most senior position of the Executive Board and will require significant commitment. Ideally the incumbent for the position of President should:

  • Have significant experience in management and leadership.
  • Have experience of representing a scientific organisation to a wide range of audiences.
  • Have solid knowledge of the European and International Planetary Science research and policy landscape.

The President will:

  • Act as Chair at the meetings of the Executive Board. 
  • Commit to regular interactions with the Executive Office staff on regular Society matters and to be available (by email/phone) to discuss important impromptu (often politically or otherwise sensitive matters) with Officers and senior Executive Office staff as they arise. 
  • Represent the Society at the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) and a number of external events with other learned societies and professional scientific bodies, as well as European policy makers.

Vice-Presidents

The two Vice-Presidents will provide support to the President and one of them will chair the meetings of the Executive Board in the absence of the President. On specific occasions, the President may invite the Vice-Presidents to represent the Society at external events. 

Treasurer

The Treasurer shall have oversight of the Society’s budget and ensure its coherence. To that effect, the Treasurer will work closely with the Executive Office Staff to draft the annual budgets and manage the Society finances. 

Secretary

The Secretary will work closely with the Executive Office Staff to convene the meetings of the Society, define the agenda and keep track of all of records and documentation. The Secretary will also oversee the preparation of an annual report and its transmission to members and other approved organisations. 

Board Members

Board Members are required to attend and actively participate to the Executive Board meetings, and during the periods in-between to read, comment on and take decisions on matters raised to them by the Executive Office or Officers of the Society. On occasion Board Members will be invited to represent the Society at external events.

The Executive Board Members (including the President, Vice-Presidents and elected officers) will:

  • Consider strategic issues for the Society
  • Approve major financial decisions
  • Serve on subcommittees to support specific areas of Society activity and report on their work to the Executive Board
  • Feed into the Europlanet Society response to policy and other consultations

Furthermore, Board Members will collectively share the oversight of the following remits:

  • Communication
  • Outreach and Education
  • Early Career 
  • Diversity, Inclusion and Widening participation
  • Industry relations
  • Amateur collaboration
  • Infrastructure development
  • Global collaboration
  • Policy engagement
  • External funding opportunities

Executive Board meetings attendance

The Executive Board members are expected to attend all Board meetings (including General Assemblies). If Board Members fail to attend two consecutive meetings, they will be asked to renew their interest in sitting on the Executive Board. If they fail to attend three consecutive meetings, replacements will be sought.

Inspiring Stories – Sailing Across the Stars

Inspiring Stories – Sailing Across the Stars

In this EPEC Inspiring Outreach Story, José Eduardo Oliveira Silva from the Observatorio Astronomico de Lisboa tells us how he embarked on an outreach voyage along the coast of Portugal to bring the joy of science to people living on the coast.

José Eduardo Oliveira Silva aboard the Vera Cruz.
José Eduardo Oliveira Silva aboard the Vera Cruz. Credit: J.E. Oliveira Silva

In August 2016, the Ciência Viva institution (which means Living Science in Portuguese) in Portugal was celebrating its 20thanniversary, and as a major science communication institution they planned a grand event to bring Portuguese cultural heritage together with science. Ever since Portuguese sailors navigated around the Cape of Good Hope over 500 years ago, sailing by the southern tip of Africa and into the Indian Ocean, Portugal has had a worldwide reputation for maritime exploration.

Thus the “Ao Leme com a Ciência Viva” project was born, which means “At the Helm with Ciência Viva”. Together with 7 volunteers representing different scientific institutions and fields including biology, chemistry and astronomy, we embarked on an outreach voyage along the coast of Portugal, passing through key ports to celebrate science, grand adventures and our connection to the sea.

At the time I was a Master’s student with a background in physics. I wouldn’t say I was a scientist at the time, but I was reasonably knowledgeable of the sky and the motions of the Sun, Moon, stars and planets. As in the early days of ocean exploration I was tasked with traditional navigation using the stars and tools like the sundial and astrolabe.

José Eduardo Oliveira Silva aboard the Vera Cruz. Credit: J.E. Oliveira Silva
José Eduardo Oliveira Silva aboard the Vera Cruz. Credit: J.E. Oliveira Silva

The voyage took seven days on a historical ‘man-o-war’ vessel named Vera Cruz. As part of a small 20-person crew of scientists and sailors, we lived and worked on or below deck and were always surrounded by the sea breeze and the light of the stars. Everyone had a job, and these ranged from handling the helm (which required at least two people sitting on a cable to push the helm in a given direction), preparing food, or cleaning the bathroom. It was sometimes hard to stay awake on duty at 4 in the morning while trying to keep the boat from crashing into a rock — but in these moments we were always rewarded with a beautiful sunrise over the coast.

The magic of outreach came to life during the voyage and, when docked at harbour, we met with the public ranging from dazzled children to curious seniors. I was given the opportunity to demonstrate how sundials work and how to build one with just a piece of paper and a straw (and of course by making some calculations, as at the end of the day I am a physicist).

So many remarkable moments were condensed in that week that it’s hard to express everything, and even harder to write them in a short article. But I’ll finish with something I learned from this trip (apart from how to tie knots):

To my fellow scientists, never miss an opportunity to do outreach. Whenever possible within your ability and schedule, be willing to give some time to help people. The help you give to others usually pays off in some way and you might even be selected to go on a wonderful voyage, as I was. For me, the outreach activity is its own reward. I’ve been doing it for more than 7 years, both at the Observatory of Lisbon and the planetarium, hopefully bringing wonder and knowledge to the public so they can peer a little bit deeper into the darkness of the cosmic unknown. Which, in my opinion is at the heart of outreach.

José Eduardo Oliveira Silva aboard the Vera Cruz.
José Eduardo Oliveira Silva aboard the Vera Cruz.

Do you like this story and want more? Browse our archive of EPEC Inspiring Stories and get inspired!

Europlanet webinar: Multisensory Astronomy

Europlanet webinar: Multisensory Astronomy

30th July, 13:00 BST / 14: 00 CEST

Join us in another fascinating webinar where the Europlanet 2019 Prize winner, Dr Amelia Ortiz-Gil of the University of Valencia, will show us how to reach for the Moon – literally!

In recent years, projects like “A Touch of the Universe” have used the sense of touch to teach everyone, including blind people, about the planets and the Universe. However, there are other senses that can also be used to enjoy and, at the same time, learn about astronomy. This can be especially useful for people with special needs.

There are two ways to watch:

  • Full Access using the Zoom app (desktop or mobile) – this gives the best quality, allows you to ask questions to the speaker and fully participate in the webinar. Click the button below to register to access the webinar and have the Zoom app installed. We won’t share your data with anyone and will only use it in regards to this webinar.

Register on Zoom

  • Live Streaming on YouTube – you can watch the live stream of the webinar through Europlanet’s YouTube channel without registration when the webinar is live. This is a straight feed and you aren’t able to communicate with the speaker or participate further in the webinar in any way.

Speaker: Dr. Amelia Ortiz GilAstronomer, Outreach and Education @Astronomical Observatory, University of Valencia, Spain.

Dr Amelia Ortiz-Gil is an astronomer at the University of Valencia’s Astronomical Observatory, working in outreach and education. She is National Outreach Coordinator (NOC) for the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in Spain since 2018. She is the 2019 Europlanet Prize Winner for her work developing accessible outreach and educational materials.

Dr Amelia Ortiz-Gil is an astronomer at the University of Valencia’s Astronomical Observatory, working in outreach and education. She is National Outreach Coordinator (NOC) for the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in Spain since 2018. She is the 2019 Europlanet Prize Winner for her work developing accessible outreach and educational materials.

50 years on from Apollo 11, European students plan return to the Moon with IGLUNA

50 years on from Apollo, European students plan return to the Moon with IGLUNA

50 years ago today, Apollo 11 landed on the Moon. It was an iconic event for humanity that required the contribution of 400,000 people, including many Europeans.

With plans to return humans to the Moon in the next five years, questions remain about how we could protect astronauts serving in long-duration missions in the extreme lunar environment.

Last month, the IGLUNA ESA_Lab@ project, led by the Swiss Space Center, brought together 150 students from nine different European countries in 20 project teams, to tackle different aspects of suppporting life in a demonstrator lunar habitat.

IGLUNA. Copyright: Eva Buchs

Teams prepared throughout the 2018-2019 academic year for a field campaign from 17 June – 3 July, in which they built the habitat in a glacier cave of the Klein Matterhorn above Zermatt, Switzerland. Over two weeks the students carried out scientific experiments and tested systems for communication, power management, life support and monitoring the health of astronauts. 

Tourists and locals were invited to view the habitat and an exhibition at the Vernissage Art Gallery in Zermatt.

You can find out more about the campaign at the IGLUNA website and in this video:

Cover image copyright: Peter Balicki/IGLUNA

Inspiring Stories – A Space Rendezvous in Rome

Inspiring Stories – A Space Rendezvous in Rome

In this EPEC Inspiring Outreach Story, Melissa Mirino from the Open University in the UK, tells us how she is helping to organise meetings where the public can meet planetary scientists!

Space Rendezvous Rome official logo

In February 2018, during the lunch of the first SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch, a group of space enthusiasts joined an informal meeting in Paris to talking about their passion for space and their personal experiences.

After this event the group of young scientists realised that space enthusiasts from their neighborhood were lacking opportunities to informally discuss their passion for space. This was the start of the Space Rendezvous Project which is running in many cities all over Europe. I had the amazing opportunity to be one of the founders of Space Rendezvous in Rome which is now supported by the Space Generation Advisory Council and Woman in Aerospace Europe.

Our rendezvous in Rome are providing an opportunity for undergraduates, Ph.D. students, and space enthusiasts without any limit of age or expertise, to discuss about topics and news related with the Space sector and Planetary Science.

So those who are interested in space exploration can be inspired from people already involved in the space research and possibly follow their examples in the future. Professionals have the opportunity to share their work and their knowledge with the attendees. In this context, professionals can also get fresh, innovative and sometimes crazy ideas for future research projects or developments

In May 2019, we decided to make our rendezvous a bit different, and dedicated it to Space Art. We thought about the best way to inspire the younger generation to be more involved in our work, and decided to let them be the main characters of the art competition. We asked them to choose a title and give an explanation about what inspired them about Space. As you can see from the examples below, the results were amazing:

By organising these meetings I have learned a lot: how to manage a meeting, and cooperate within an international team. Other members of my group are from all over Europe and around the world, so we have various backgrounds and diverse work habits. I have also had a valuable lesson in science communication, both in the real and virtual world as we are promoting our actions on social media. We are also having fun organising games and deciding what the event topic will be each month. It is challenging, but one of the rewards is the great chance to network with others interested in space around Rome area. I would therefore recommend young professionals to find out if Space Rendezvous is happening in their city, and if not to take the initiative and become one of the founders in their area. From personal experience I can assure you that it will be very rewarding and super fun. 

If you find yourself in Rome, join our meetings for an interesting chat and a good pizza! Visit our official facebook page @Spacerendezvousrome and discover the upcoming topic of the month. New volunteers and sponsors who would like to support our activities are welcome! So if you are interested please contact me at: melissa.mirino@community.isunet.edu. All participant cities host their Space Rendezvous on the final Thursdays of each month.

Do you like this story and want more? Browse our archive of EPEC Inspiring Stories and get inspired!

2nd Planetary Mapping and Virtual Observatory Workshop

2nd Planetary Mapping and Virtual Observatory Workshop

The 2nd Planetary Mapping and Virtual Observatory Workshop took place from 1-3 July 2019, Domaine de St. Paul, Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse, France. The workshop aimed to bring together the geologic, geospatial and VO communities at European scale to progress knowledge, tools and standards for mapping the Solar System.The programme included updates on VESPA, PLANMAP and Data / science infrastructures (OneGeology, INSPIRE, EPOS), as well as lightning talks, tutorials and hackathons.

2nd Planetary Mapping and Virtual Observatory Workshop. Credit: Erica Luzzi

If you missed the workshop, the presentations are online.

Discussions related to the hackathons and tutorials can be found here: 

https://forum.openplanetary.org/c/events/vespa-mapping-2019

You can also catch up on the Lightning Talks from the meeting:

A selection of photos are below. For all photos of the workshop, see here.

Making the Case for Astronomy at EWASS 2019

Making the Case for Astronomy at EWASS 2019

The European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS) is the annual conference of the European Astronomical Society (EAS) and the largest meeting on astronomy held in Europe. For the past three years, Europlanet 2020 RI has collaborated with the EAS, ESA and the RAS to convene a session on public and political engagement: “Making the Case for Astronomy”.

EWASS 2019 took place under heatwave conditions at the Manufacture des tabacs, University of Lyon 3 from 24-28 June. The 2019 edition of Making the Case for Astronomy ran for a full day of parallel sessions and was split over three themes: evaluation, engaging with non-traditional audiences, and talking to policy-makers. The sessions included time for questions and wider discussion with all participants attending.

Participants at EWASS 2019 SS37 on Making the Case for Astronomy. Credit: K. Moutsouroufi

Measuring the impact of communication and outreach

The first session focused on lessons learned from social science and evaluation. Marta Entradas of the LSE, UK, and ISCTE-IUL, Portugal, kicked off with a presentation on her 2018 study of the public engagement practices and motivations of 2587 members of the IAU. “Bustling public communication by astronomers around the world driven by personal and contextual factors” is the largest international investigation of astronomy outreach to date. Marta presented a positive picture of self-motivated researchers, who in all regions of the world are striving to engage external communities with their science.

Marta Entradas of LSE. Credit: K. Moutsouroufi

Eric Jensen of the Institute for Methods Innovation, UK, presented an evidence-based approach to public engagement, focusing on how evaluation can lead to more effective communication and outcomes.

Eric Jensen of IMI. Credit: K. Moutsouroufi

We finished the final session with a presentation by Anita Heward on the Europlanet Evaluation Toolkit. Karen Bultitude and Jen DeWitt developed the toolkit for Europlanet 2020 RI with the aim of empowering outreach providers and educators in measuring and appraising the impact of their activities. The kit includes 14 easy-to-use data collection tools and two data analysis tools for deriving more in-depth information from data collected.

Anita Heward of Europlanet 2020 RI. Credit: K. Moutsouroufi

Engaging with different audiences

The second session started with a review by Mark McCaughrean of ESA’s recent communications activities aimed at non-traditional audiences. Initiatives include “Space Rocks” music events and the “Ambition” science fiction film, which has opened up opportunities to participate in science fiction conventions such as FEDCON.

Presentation by Mark McCaughrean of ESA. Credit: K. Moutsouroufi

Jacqueline Campbell of UCL’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory followed this with a dynamic talk on reaching out to people in society – particularly young people – who feel that science is “not for them”. She highlighted the importance of role models and drew analogies with sport in discussing how science can become more accessible by opening it up to society at all levels, not just those individuals that wish to pursue a career in STEM.

Jacqueline Campbell of MSSL/UCL. Credit: K. Moutsouroufi

Next, Michelle Willebrands brought a pan-European perspective with a presentation on the European IAU Regional Office of Astronomy for Development (E-ROAD), which has been established at Leiden Observatory and is operated jointly by the EAS and Leiden University. While astronomy is well established in Europe, the continent faces its own challenges in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in Europe. The new E-ROAD will find ways in which astronomy can improve aspects of European society.

Michelle Willebrands of the IAU E-ROAD. Credit: K. Moutsouroufi

Finally, Gina Maffey of JIVE discussed the challenges of communicating radio astronomy to public audiences (and the joys of unscrambling acronyms within acronyms). Gina rounded off the first part of the session with a practical exercise in communication, where participants were asked to describe their work in one sentence to their neighbour and find out what kind of visual imagery their words evoked.

Gina Maffey of JIVE. Credit: K. Moutsouroufi

Talking to policy makers

The third part of the session was opened by Clare Moody, the former MEP for the Southwest of the UK, who gave practical advice on engaging with policy makers. Clare highlighted the timeliness in the aftermath of the European elections for engaging with the new intake of Members of the European Parliament, who are currently scoping out their areas of interest. Clare’s top tips included:

  • Identify a cluster of people to target through your Member State. Look at the backgrounds of MEPs to see who has an interest in science or who has a link to a particular university. This kind of mapping early on can pay dividends in developing good relationships with policy makers.
  • Look at the target committees that will be formed in July 2019 and the appointed rapporteurs. The ITRE Committee is particularly important for astronomy, as is the Budgets Committee.
  • As well as developing a good relationship with an MEP, it’s also vital to have a good relationship with the MEP’s office team. The offices are an important part of policy development and are gatekeepers to the MEPs.
  • Be clear about why you are engaging with a policymaker. What do you want to get out of developing the relationship? What knowledge or expertise can you bring to the MEP that will help them in their work or make them look good. Tell a coherent story.
  • Keep in regular contact with your MEP and their offices, and with activities within the Parliament. This will make it easier when you need something e.g. to ask for a hearing in the run-up to a key decision.
Clare Moody. Credit: K. Moutsouroufi

Next, Andy Williams, the External Relations Officer at the European Southern Observatory, talked about creating a favourable policy landscape for astronomy. Andy covered strategies for engagement with political and government actors and gave sound advice on how to act as a “policy entrepreneur”, including the need to understand the timeline of policy making, to build up contextual knowledge of policy systems, and to capitalise on external events and successes.

Andy Williams of ESO. Credit: K. Moutsouroufi

Robert Massey, Deputy Director of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), gave a perspective on policy engagement during a turbulent time in UK politics. The EU currently plays a vital role in supporting UK astronomy, which is one of the most international fields of research. With 1/3 of UK postdocs coming from other EU countries and the ERC supporting over 30% of grants for UK space science and astronomy, any form of Brexit is likely to have a huge effect on astronomy in the UK. Policy changes regarding open access are also causing a major shake-up in scientific publishing. Organisations like the RAS must adapt to continue to provide a strong and effective voice for the communities they serve.

Robert Massey of the RAS. Credit: K. Moutsouroufi

Finally, Niall Smith of the Cork Institute of Technology / Blackrock Castle Observatory in Ireland talked about how the conversion of a 16th century castle into a science destination was enabled initially through engagement with decision makers on a local level and has led to partnerships across Ireland and beyond. Niall also discussed how the success of Blackrock Castle Observatory’s public enagement had played an important role in catalysing and developing Ireland’s first National Space Strategy for Enterprise through its thought-leadership in space policy development.

Niall Smith of Cork Institute of Technology. Credit: K. Moutsouroufi

Many thanks to Karen O’Flaherty (ESA), Mike Bode (EAS), Robert Massey (RAS), Konstantina Moutsouroufi (U. Athens) and Eric Lagadec (Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur) for their work in preparing a very successful session. Special thanks to Nantia Moutsouroufi for the images included in this post.

Find out more about previous EWASS “Making the Case for Astronomy” sessions in reports from Prague in 2017 and in Liverpool in 2018.

Europlanet Summer School 2019

Europlanet Summer School 2019

From 11-21 June, Europlanet 2020 RI once again welcomed 21 students, early career researchers and amateur astronomers to a summer school at the Molėtai Astronomical Observatory in Lithuania.

The 2019 course was the 20th anniversary of the inaugural summer school organised by the University of Vilnius at MAO and the third time that it has been supported by Europlanet 2020 RI.

This year, the summer school was attended by students from 17 countries. A priority for Europlanet is to support planetary science in under-represented states, so we were particularly delighted to that the class of 2019 included students from Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Lithuania, Poland, Turkey and Romania, as well as Austria, France, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Spain, Vietnam and the UK.

All the students were given practical experience in spectroscopic and photometric observations with the MAO’s two telescopes under the supervision of Arnas Drazdauskas, Sarunas Mikolaitis, Edita Stonkute and Justas Zdanavičius of Vilnius University’s Institute of Theoretical Physics and Astronomy. In the mornings, students analysed observations. In the afternoons, they participated in a programme of science communication training.

An introductory lecture, “Stars and Exoplanets – the breakthrough of research”, by Hans Kjeldsen of Aarhus University in Denmark put the programme into context. Participant Martin Topinka of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies gave the public talk, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away – in the perspective of JWST”.

Special thanks to Gražina Tautvaisiene, Renata Minkevičiūtė and all the Local Organising Committee for their work in organising the Summer School and creating a memorable event once again.

EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 – 1st Media Announcement

EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 – 1st Media Announcement

The 2019 Joint Meeting (www.epsc-dps2019.eu) of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) and the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) will take place at the Centre International de Conférences de Genève (CICG), Geneva, Switzerland, from Sunday 15 to Friday 20 September 2019. More than 1900 abstracts have been submitted and over 1500 planetary scientists from Europe, the US and around the world are expected to attend the meeting, making it one of the largest gatherings of planetary scientists held in Europe to date.

The EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 will be the third time that the DPS Annual Meeting and EPSC, which is the annual meeting of the Europlanet Society, have been held together. The programme for 2019 covers the full spectrum of planetary science and technology across 59 sessions and five programme groups: Terrestrial Planets; Outer Planet Systems; Missions, Instrumentation and Techniques; Small Bodies (comets, KBOs, rings, asteroids, meteorites, dust); Exoplanets and Origins; and Outreach, Diversity and Amateur Astronomy. The meeting program includes both oral and poster sessions, along with featured talks from EPSC and DPS prize winners.

Press notices on presentations that may be of special interest to the media will be circulated during the meeting. Details of press briefings and webcast access will be circulated closer to the time. The meeting hashtag is #EPSCDPS2019.

Details of the scientific sessions can be found at the official website (https://www.epsc-dps2019.eu/). The full programme will be published in early July.

Media Registration

Media representatives are cordially invited to attend the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019. Press room facilities will be available for the duration of the conference from 9 am on Monday 16 September through to 3 pm on Friday 20 September. Media registration is free. Any bona fide media delegates can pre-register by e-mailing epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org (advance registration is not essential but encouraged). Participants are strongly encouraged to book accommodation well in advance.

The EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 will follow the DPS embargo policy:
http://aas.org/media/press-releases/embargo-policy-aas-division-meetings

Media contacts
Anita Heward
EPSC Press Officer
+44 7756 034243
anita.heward@europlanet-eu.org
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Livia Giacomini
EPSC Press Officer
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Adriana Postiglione
EPSC Press Officer
epsc-dps-press@europlanet-society.org

Shantanu Naidu
DPS Press Officer
dpspress@aas.org

Pierre Bratschi
Press Officer, Exoplanet Team, University of Geneva
+41 22 379 23 54
pierre.bratschi@unige.ch

Further Information

DPS
The Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS), founded in 1968, is the largest special-interest Division of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Members of the DPS study the bodies of our own solar system, from planets and moons to comets and asteroids, and all other solar-system objects and processes. With the discovery that planets exist around other stars, the DPS has expanded its scope to include the study of extrasolar planetary systems as well.

The AAS, established in 1899, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. The membership (approx. 7,500) also includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists,
engineers, and others whose research interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising contemporary astronomy. The mission of the AAS is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe, which it achieves through publishing, meeting organization, education and outreach, and training and professional development.

DPS website: https://dps.aas.org/

Europlanet
The Europlanet Society, launched in September 2018, is an organisation for individual and corporate members to promote the advancement of planetary science and related fields in Europe and builds on the heritage of Europlanet projects funded under the European Commission’s FP6, FP7 and Horizon 2020 programmes. The Society provides Europe’s planetary science community with a platform to exchange ideas and personnel, share research tools, data and facilities, define key science goals for the future, and engage stakeholders, policy makers and European citizens with planetary science. The Europlanet Society is the parent organisation of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC).

Europlanet Society website: www.europlanet-society.org
EPSC-DPSC 2019 Joint Meeting 2019 website: www.epsc-dps2019.eu

The Europlanet Media Centre issues media releases on the activities of Europlanet, the European Planetary Science Congress, and results from planetary science partner organisations. If you do not wish to receive press releases from the Europlanet Media Centre, please unsubscribe by replying to this message or sending an email to anita.heward@europlanet-eu.org. Anita Heward, Europlanet Press Officer, +44 7756 034243.

New date – Europlanet webinar: Volcanism on Io

Europlanet Webinar: Volcanism on Io

3rd June, 14:30 GMT / 15: 30 CET (This webinar has been rescheduled from  25th March)

Register on Zoom

For our June Webinar, Dr Ashley Davies will tell us how volcanoes helped transform the surfaces of the Earth, the other terrestrial planets, and the Moon. The biggest volcanic eruptions in the Solar System are taking place not on Earth, but on Io, a moon of Jupiter. This wonder of the Solar System is a fascinating volcanic laboratory where powerful volcanic eruptions result from tidal heating, a process that also affects the ice-covered moon Europa. Despite multiple spacecraft visits and spectacular new observations of Io with large Earth-based telescopes, some of the biggest questions about Io’s extraordinary volcanoes remain unanswered. Getting the answers requires an understanding of the difficulties of remote sensing of volcanic activity; a new, innovative approach to instrument design; and ultimately a return to Io. Ashley Davies, a volcanologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, CA, will describe how studying volcanoes on Earth leads to a clearer understanding of how Io’s volcanoes work and how best to study them from spacecraft.

About Ashley Davies

Dr. Ashley Davies is a Research Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory – California Institute of Technology. He received a Doctorate in volcanology from Lancaster University, in the United Kingdom, in 1988 and has been at JPL for over 25 years. He was a member of the Galileo NIMS Team; is a Co-Investigator on the Europa Clipper Mapping Imaging Spectrometer for Europa (MISE); has written over 100 papers on observing and understanding volcanic processes; and is the author of “Volcanism on Io – A comparison with Earth”, published by Cambridge University Press. He continues to be engaged in research into volcanic eruption processes, spacecraft mission and instrumentation development, and field work on volcanoes around the world. He was a co-recipient of the NASA Software of the Year Award for the successful Autonomous Sciencecraft (demonstrating science-driven full spacecraft autonomy).

Interview with Amelia Ortiz-Gil, Europlanet Prize Winner 2019

Interview with Amelia Ortiz-Gil, Europlanet Prize Winner 2019

In this interview, we ask our Europlanet Prize Winner 2019, Amelia Ortiz-Gil, about the inspirations and motivations behind her work in outreach and her ambitions to make astronomy more accessible, both within the community and to wider society.

Dr Amelia Ortiz-Gil with the 3D tactile model of Mars exhibited at the Science Museum “Principe Felipe” in Valencia. Credit: M. Pallardó

When did you first become interested in astronomy?

“I was a very young girl of about 4 or 5 when I read a book about the Solar System. I became fascinated to learn about worlds so different from our own. This fascination turned into curiosity and it led me to read everything I could related to astronomy as I was growing up, finally deciding to become an astronomer myself as I was also very interested in Physics.”

How did you first become involved in outreach?

“It was in 2003, when I moved to the University of Valencia (Spain) with a research fellowship to study clusters of galaxies. Towards the end of the fellowship the Astronomical Observatory of the University started this amazing project called ‘Aula del Cel’ (Sky Classroom) to conduct activities with school children daily at the Observatory. I became part of the team running the project and ended up working in outreach and education full time.”

What has inspired you in your work to make astronomy more accessible, particularly to those with visual impairments and disabilities?

“After a couple of years running the ‘Aula del Cel’ we received a request from a special education school to visit our Observatory. We had not conducted any activities taking into account any special needs of our public so this was the perfect chance to reach this part of the population. I think the sky is there for everybody to enjoy and it is our moral duty as outreach professionals to help everybody to reach the stars.

“We set up working very closely with the teachers of the special education school to adapt the activities that were usually conducted during the school visits. We learnt a lot from these teachers. The most important outcomes of the experience were two. First, that we were indeed able to adapt and develop astronomical activities for persons who are functionally diverse, and second, that it is an extremely gratifying experience because we had one of the most passionate and grateful publics ever.”

“A Touch of the Universe” kit of astronomy and planetary related resources. Credit: A Touch of the Universe

What are the initiatives that you have worked on that you are most proud of?

“I am very proud of the ‘A Touch of the Universe’ project (2013) which was the first to create a kit of astronomical resources accessible to the blind and visually impaired. We distributed 20 of these kits around the world and I know they have been very useful and have helped educators who wanted to reach this kind of public but needed this support and extra push. The resources are freely available to download from the project’s site so anyone anywhere in the world with access to a 3D printer can reproduce the tactile planetary globes.

“The project was based on two previous ones, the ‘Hands in the Sky’ planetarium show for the blind that we developed during the International Year of Astronomy (2009) and the Tactile 3D Moon, which was possible thanks to the generous funding of Europlanet’s Outreach Funding Scheme in 2011.”

“The Sky in your Hands” planetarium show. Credit: A Touch of the Universe

Are there areas/things that the astronomical community should seek to address, or could do to make itself more inclusive and accessible?

“There are many areas and things that should change in order to make astronomy more inclusive and accessible at the outreach, academic and professional levels.

“There are a lot of barriers that need to be acknowledged and removed. Many are simply the result of some arbitrary choices that can be changed for the benefit of everyone, like the ways in which we chose to store, disseminate and present information. These choices will have a different impact on people with visual, hearing or learning impairments. Specifically, there is a clear need for scientific journals to follow a set of rules for them to be accessible to people with functional or neurological diversity.
Several actions are needed to ensure scientific meetings are inclusive and accessible to all.

And selection and hiring processes must ensure that they are not being discriminatory against anyone with an impairment.

There has been work done along theses lines already. For example, the Nashville Recommendations for Inclusive Astronomy is a living wiki document with many recommendations on how to make Astronomy more inclusive. And the Sloan Digital Sky Survey has created COINS (Committee On Inclusion iN SDSS), developing guidelines and recommendation documents for best practices, also regarding meeting and telecon accessibility.”

What are you working on at the moment?

Panel from IAU100 “Inspiring Stars” exhibition. Credit: IAU100

“I am currently the chair of the International Astronomical Union’s Working Group of Astronomy for Equity and Inclusion, a group of astronomers and outreach professionals that seeks to inspire the community about inclusive practices. One of the WG projects I am involved with is the compilation of a Universal Dictionary of Astronomical Signs in as many different sign languages as possible in order to provide communicators and educators with a basic astronomical jargon when talking to deaf persons.

“I am also involved in the organisation of the IAU Symposium 358 ‘Astronomy for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion’ that will be held in Tokyo (Japan) on November 2019. One of the outcomes of this meeting will be the ‘Mitaka Resolutions’, a document to guide the IAU to achieve higher levels of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Astronomy.

“I am the IAU’s National Outreach Coordinator for Spain. This year the IAU is celebrating its 100th anniversary with a global celebration called IAU100 which is paying special attention to inclusive practices in astronomical outreach activities. I have also contributed to the traveling international exhibition “Inspiring Stars”, an IAU100 exhibition about inclusivity and accessibility in Astronomy, from school to professional environments. It features our tactile 3D planetary globes (Moon, Mars and Venus). Also the tactile 3D Moon is one of the prizes that can be won in different IAU100 competitions.

“The IAU’s OAD funded last year our project ‘A Touch of Venus’ to print 3D tactile models of the planet Venus. We have recently shipped them along with an activity book in Braille to developing countries.”

To find out more about Amelia’s work, read the press release on the Europlanet Prize 2019 and see https://astrokit.uv.es