Highlights from the European Planetary Science Congress 2017
October 3, 2017

Highlights from the European Planetary Science Congress 2017

Another European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) is over but our meeting in 2017 was truly memorable – for the science presented, for the public and political engagement activities around the event, and for all the fabulous people we met during the week. If you couldn’t make it in person, there are plenty of ways you can catch up.

Here are some of our favourite things from EPSC 2017:

1. Live streams of sessions at EPSC. One parallel session in every timeslot was streamed each day, courtesy of LMT, covering more than 100 talks. You can watch the archive of streamed sessions now. We are currently selecting the top talks to highlight individually.

2. Trending on Social Media in Latvia. We think that science is better when shared and, thanks to social media, the EPSC 2017 experience was shared around the world!

Summaries of Twitter coverage of EPSC 2017 on Storify:
Pre-EPSC (before 17 September 2017) 
Sun-Tues 17-19 September 2017
Wed-Thur 20-21 September 2017
Friday 22 Sepember 2017
Post-EPSC (after 22 September 2017)

3. Madame President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, past two-time Latvian president and international spokesperson joined the EPSC 2017 Opening Ceremony to describe the importance of the Sun and the Cosmos Latvian folklore and songs.

Madame President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga. Credit: LMT

4. The Europlanet Early Careers (EPEC) Network. EPSC 2017 saw the launch of the EPEC Network to support young planetary scientists attending the meeting. EPEC events included training workshops on scientific writing and ERC funding opportunities, the EPSC Outstanding Student Poster Award, and the first EPSC Science Flash competition, where participants had just 180 seconds to present their work in a fun original way.

Winners and judges of the EPSC Science Flash Competition 2017. Credit: Europlanet/T. Heenatigala.

5. Solar System for Kids Exhibition. Around 600 school children visited the ground-floor hands on exhibition during the week.  The majority of the exhibits will tour the five Zinoo science centers around Latvia, reaching an estimated 10,000+ Latvian children over the next few years.

Children at the Solar System for Kids hands-on exhibition at EPSC 2017 in Riga. Credit: A. Graps.

6. A whole day of Cassini presentations. The greatest explorer of Saturn and its moons may have come to the end of its mission, but there is plenty of science still to come. If you missed it you can watch the archived stream of many of these presentations.

Artist’s impression of Cassini during its mission finale. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

7. SpaceTEM Students. The SpaceTEM project trains and mentors young Estonians and Latvians on space and entrepreneurship. The summer 2017 cohort presented their projects at EPSC 2017 – and two won the outstanding Poster competition.

The SpaceTEM 2017 team. Credit: Europlanet/T. Heenatigala

8. Press Briefings. EPSC 2017 generated a lot of interest from the Latvian and the international media. We held two press briefings at EPSC 2017 on ‘Pushing the boundaries of Planetary Exploration’ and on ‘Cassini mission/Comet Springs Encounter with Mars’.

Press briefing at EPSC 2017. Credit: Europlanet/T. Heenatigala

9. Poster Sessions. More than 300 of the presentations at EPSC 2017 were in the form of posters. As well as discussing science, the poster sessions are a great opportunity for the EPSC participants to network and catch up with old friends over a drink.

Poster session at EPSC 2017. Credit: Credit: Mareks Matisons LSM.lv / LMT

10. Artists in residence. We were lucky enough to have two fabulous artists on site creating their own, unique records of the meeting and the science presented.

11. Politicians presenting at EPSC. In addition to Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga and Estonian politician Ene Ergma participating in the Opening Ceremony, the Latvian Finance Minister, Dana Reizniece-Ozola presented ‘The Role of the Space Industry in Latvia‘ during the session on small satellites, Mathias Link of the Ministry of the Economy, Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg presented during the session on In-Space Resource Utilization, and Kārlis Šadurskis, Minister of the Latvian Ministry of Education and Science, introduced the public event.

Dana Reizniece-Ozola being interviewed at EPSC 2017. Credit: Mareks Matisons LSM.lv / LMT

12. The future of planetary exploration. Asteroid mining, Moon villages and living in lava tubes on Mars were all on the agenda at EPSC 2017.

ESA Astronauts training in terrestrial lava tubes in Lanzarote during the PANGEA 2016 course. Credit: ESA/L. Ricci

13. Prizes. The Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement and the 7th Paolo Farinella Prize were presented at EPSC 2017. Congratulations to the winners!

Ulrich Köhler and Dr. Ekkehard Kührt, of the DLR Institute of Planetary Research, accepting the Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement 2017 on behalf of the “Comets – The Rosetta Mission: Journey to the Origins of the Solar System” exhibition curation team. Credit: Mareks Matisons LSM.lv / LMT
Simone Marchi accepting the Paolo Farinella Prize at EPSC 2017. Credit: Mareks Matisons LSM.lv / LMT

15. Planets in a Room. This DIY spherical projection system for planetary data had its first public outing at EPSC and caused quite a stir. (*The development of ‘Planets in a Room’ was supported by the Europlanet Outreach Funding Scheme in 2016. If you have a brilliant outreach idea that needs funding, dont forget that the 2018 Call was launched at EPSC 2017 and will close on 31st January 2018*).

Planets in a Room and its co-creator, Livia Giacomini. Credit: Europlanet/T. Heenatigala

16. Animations of Chasing Dust Devils. Dr Jan Raack presented his research on Dust Devils in the Mars-like deserts of Morocco during the Laboratory and Field Investigation session on Monday at EPSC 2017 and was also the subject of one of our press releases.

Sampling a very small and weak dust devil during field campaign ‘Morocco 2016’. Credit: Jan Raack/Dennis Reiss

17. The participants. EPSC 2017 was attended by 808 people from 40 countries.

18. Riga! What a wonderful venue for our meeting.

19. Smiles from Amara Graps, Chair of the Local Organising Committee. After all the hard work, the success of the conference makes it all worthwhile.

20. Mario Ebel and his fantastic team of conference staff.  As ever, we are indebted to them for the seamless running of the conference! We look forward to seeing you next year at EPSC 2018 in Berlin!