Europlanet 2020 RI Final Report published

Europlanet 2020 RI Final Report published

The Final Report on the Europlanet 2020 Research Infrastructure (RI) project has been published.

The report concludes that Europlanet 2020 RI, which ran from 1st September 2015 until 31st August, has produced a step-change in research in Europe by providing the largest open access research infrastructure for planetary science in the world. The project has established the structures for longer term collaborations both within the European community and between Europe and international partners. In December 2018, the European Commission recognised Europlanet 2020 RI as a Horizon 2020 success story.

Overall, Europlanet 2020 RI has had major impacts for the community:

  • Europe’s planetary simulation and analytical facilities have been upgraded through the JRA programme and the Transnational Access programme has led to the publication of high-impact research.
  • Europlanet’s Virtual Access activities, VESPA and PSWS, have evolved into mature, well-used facilities with protocols and tools that have become standards in the worldwide Virtual Observatory communities.
  • Networking activities have been effective in disseminating the outputs of the project and developing capacity in under-represented states within the European Research Area and beyond.

The procedures implemented and lessons learned during the project have enabled Europlanet to refine the mechanisms and protocols necessary to enable mobilisation and collaboration within the planetary community and to maximise the impact of European talent and facilities .

Over the coming weeks, the Europlanet Society website will highlight some of the case studies from the report demonstrating how the Europlanet 2020 RI project has been working towards the strategic objectives for a research infrastructure (defined by the OECD):

  1. Be a national or world leading scientific research infrastructure and an enabling facility to support science.
  2. Be an enabling facility to support innovation.
  3. Become integrated in a regional cluster/in regional strategies/Be a hub to facilitate regional collaborations.
  4. Promote education outreach and knowledge transfer.
  5. Provide scientific support to public policies.
  6. Provide high quality scientific data and associated services.
  7. Assume social responsibility towards society.

Europlanet 2020 RI’s legacy, supported within the sustainable framework of the new Europlanet Society, will provide a solid foundation for a European planetary research infrastructure for decades to come.

Europlanet 2020 RI received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 654208.

Motivational Journeys – Thérèse Encrenaz

Motivational Journeys – Thérèse Encrenaz

For the second interview in our series of Motivational Journeys, we talk to Dr Thérèse Encrenaz of CNRS/Observatoire de Paris.

Thérèse Encrenaz studied astronomy/astrophysics and has been involved in various missions including Vega 1 & 2 to Comet Halley, Galileo to Jupiter, the Phobos and Mars Express missions to Mars, Venus Express to Venus, Rosetta to Comet 67P/Churymov-Gerasimenko. Challenges during the early stage of her career made her push the boundaries and motivated her to work harder. In this interview in our series of Motivational Journeys, Thérèse shares her experiences and tells us how she has managed her work-life balance.

Watch all the interviews in our series of Motivational Journeys.

Transit of Mercury 2019

A transit of Mercury will occur TODAY – 11th November 2019.  This is a relatively a rare event: the last took place 9th May 2016 and you’ll have to wait until 2032 to see the next one.

How to view the transit

There are plenty of ways to safely view the transit, both online and through public events with solar telescopes. You can find details of live webcasts at Space.com.

Visibility path of the transit of Mercury on 11 November 2019

Get involved

We’d like to see your pictures of the transit and of you or your friends viewing the event. Tweet your selfies using the hashtag #MercuryTransitSelfie

Mercury Transit from Chile
#MercuryTransitSelfie album from 2016

Share Europlanet’s video about the transit:

The video can be downloaded in various resolutions here: https://vimeo.com/161921266

Where is it visible?

Timeanddate.com has produced this animation to show when and where the transit of Mercury will be visible:

What’s it all about?

Read more:

Mercury is a fascinating planet and the target of the European Space Agency’s mission, BepiColombo, which launched in October 2018 and will arrive at Mercury on 5th December 2025. In the run-up to the last transit of Mercury in 2016, we invited European scientists that study the innermost planet or whose research relates to transits to contribute guest features about their work and to participate in a series of webinars.

Watch:

Links

Society for Popular Astronomy – Transit of Mercury 2019:

BepiColombo:
https://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/bepicolombo

Open University – Discover Mercury:
https://www.open.edu/openlearn/exploremercury

Observatoire de Paris – Le passage de Mercure (from 2016):
https://transitmercure.obspm.fr

Report from Diversity Committee

Report from Diversity Committee

Report by Victoria Pearson, Chair of the Europlanet Society Diversity Committee.

The members of the Diversity Committee have focused their attentions lately on the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019. Prior to the conference they worked closely with PCCS (their DPS equivalents) to identify further good practices that could be adopted at the conference.

A number of measures were put in place. These included:

  • revising the existing Code of Conduct to ensure it included expectations about professional conduct;
  • revising the guidelines for conveners to ensure diversity was considered when selecting presenters;
  • adapting the chair guidelines to include consideration of professional behaviour and access for all participants;
  • supporting the development of an incident reporting system for use by attendees.

At the conference, the Committee showcased the “Did this really happen?” cartoons and pronoun pins at the Committee’s booth, and hosted the – now annual – diversity keynote lecture, delivered this year by Nadar Haghigipour (University of Hawaii-Manoa).

The Diversity Committee and PCCS jointly convened the “Diversity and inclusiveness in planetary sciences” session. The Committee also supported the Allyship discussion meeting and the “Women in Planetary science Discussion Hour”, and with EPEC recorded a series of interviews to showcase diverse careers in planetary science.

The Committee is now reviewing feedback from the conference. We and welcome any additional contributions from the community so that EPSC 2020 and other Society meetings can build on the success of the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019.

If you have any feedback, contact diversity@europlanet-society.org

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.