EPSC Goes Live for Schools 2021 – Video Presentations and Plain Language Summaries
Out of more than 800 scientific presentations submitted for EPSC2021, we have selected four video talks on topics that may be of interest to schools. On-demand videos and plain language summaries are below.
‘Abundance of water oceans on high-density exoplanets from coupled interior-atmosphere modeling’ by Philipp Baumeister
Liquid water is a very important ingredient when searching for life, but we don’t currently have the technology to directly detect oceans on planets orbiting other stars, called ‘exoplanets’. In this talk Philipp Baumeister of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) explains the results of an interesting study of 30 000 simulated rocky exoplanets with up to five times the mass of Earth and different internal structures, ranging from ones like the Moon- to ones like Mercury.
The purpose of the study was to investigate which kinds of planets are most likely to collect and hold on to surface water. The main finding is that planets with higher density than the Earth could be the most promising candidates for hosting liquid water.
The analysis takes into account the numerous mechanisms that influence the long-term evolution of rocky planets, as well as atmospheric cycles and all the feedback processes of the between a planet’s atmosphere and interior. High-density planets seem to be more capable of transferring, through outgassing from volcanic eruptions, the water stored in the mantle into the atmosphere. They are also better at preserving water on their surface, and avoiding a situation where the oceans evaporate and enter an inhospitable greenhouse regime with a thick, hot steam atmosphere.
In the near future, these high-density planets could become the perfect targets for further studies and large exploratory missions.
‘Rover testing for lunar science and innovation’ by Chirayu Mohan
In this talk Chirayu Mohan, from the Technological University of Dublin, talks to us about testing a rover called REMMI (Rover for EuroMoonMars Investigations). REMMI was built as part of the EuroMoonMars Investigations, a series of experiments pthat take place at locations on Earth that resemble the Moon or Mars, known as analogue environments.
During the indoor and outdoor testing procedures, carried out at the Analog Astronaut Training Center in Poland and in Mount Etna in Italy, the rover was made to move on different surfaces (from plastic to carpets and rocks) and on steep slopes to find out how well it worked. The team also tested REMMI’s rover camera system for remote operation, and the quality of its pictures and recognition of different features of the environment. The experiments show that REMMI could become a sort of ‘assistant’ in the field, able to provide support during manoeuvers and to help astronauts in collecting samples. The team will use lessons learned to improve REMMI’s design.
‘The Europa Lander Mission Concept: In Situ Exploration of an Ocean World’ by Melissa Cameron
In this talk Melissa Cameron shows us the main features and status of the Europa Lander, a concept for a mission dedicated to the study of Europa, one of Jupiter’s most famous moons. Europa is thought to contain a global ocean of salty liquid water under its frozen crust, so the moon is a scientifically strategic target for both planetary science and astrobiology, potentially providing a stable environment for life.
If selected by NASA, the Europa Lander mission would be launched in about ten years time. The concept for the mission aims at going in search of biological traces on Europa, estimating its habitability and, last but not least, measuring the properties of the moon’s surface and subsurface to facilitate future explorations. The lander will scrape the surface and collect the samples from ~10 cm beneath the surface, then transferring them to a miniature laboratory within the robotic lander for analysis.
This mission would be the first mission to the surface of Europa. With the right balance of technical risk, science return and cost, it could enable us to achieve a new understanding of this fascinating icy worlds.
‘ESA Scientific Exploration of the Moon’ by Francesca McDonald
In this talk Francesca McDonald, Moon Exploration Scientist at the European Space Agency (ESA),
explains how ESA is working with international partners from the USA, Russia, Japan, India and China
to prepare for scientific exploration of the Moon between now and the early 2030s.
ESA’s strategy for science on the Moon is structured around seven ‘campaigns’ that tackle the main
unanswered scientific questions about Earth’s natural satellite, and the technological challenges that
need to be overcome for humans to live and work on the Moon.
The campaigns include: a detailed investigation of the lunar poles, where water ice is trapped and
protected from the Sun in deeply shadowed craters; plans to monitor dust and charged particles
that surround the Moon; geological measurements to study the surface and to try to understand
what’s happening deep inside the Moon; biological and technological studies to pave the way for life
support; and using the unique environment of the Moon for physics experiments to study the early
universe and test the theory of relativity.
Technology demonstrator projects currently being built and tested include a ‘can-opener’ for
carefully extracting and preserving samples of lunar rock that have remained sealed since they were
collected by the Apollo astronauts 50 years ago, and an experimental set-up for extracting oxygen
and water from lunar soil.
With NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) and the Russian Luna-27 mission,
carrying ESA’s PROSPECT instrument package, and NASA’s Artemis crewed mission all due to land on
the Moon by the mid-2020s, the next few years will see renewed excitement in lunar exploration.
Download the full transcript of Francesca McDonald’s Keynote Talk.