Europlanet 2024 RI Fast Track Call – 2021
1. Fast Track TA Call
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the TA facilities and field sites from the Europlanet 2024 RI accumulated a large backlog of TA visits and the next TA call for applications will thus be delayed to Easter 2022.
In the meantime, “Fast Track” TA calls will be implemented to support “emergency applications” only, such as high impact science, career impact (PhD & post docs contracts) or field work only possible over summer 2022.
Open call: 1 October 2021
Open submission platform: 6 October 2021
Close call: 3 November 2021 at 14.00 (2pm) CEST (Brussels, Paris time)
Results announced mid-December 2021
Fast Track TA Call Information:
Access restricted to “emergency applications”: high impact science, career impact (PhD & post docs contracts) or field work only possible over summer 2022. It will be mandatory for applicants to first discuss the implementation plan with the TA host facility.
Application to the TA call should be filled in using the template available on the call page and submitted before 3 November 2021 at 14:00 (2pm) CEST (Brussels, Paris time).
The TA Application Resources page includes video presentations from our webinar “How to apply successfully for a TA call” held on 3 December.
2. Background: Europlanet 2024 RI Programme & Transnational Access (TA)
The Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (http://www.europlanet-2024-ri.eu) is funded by Horizon 2020 to support the research activities of the European planetary science community and foster international collaborations.
The programme enables European researchers to visit planetary analogue field sites, use planetary simulators and perform analyses in distributed sample analysis facilities through its Transnational Access (TA) programme.
The TA programme supports all travel and local accommodation costs of European and international researchers in order to conduct their research in accredited facilities and field sites. Applicants can submit applications to the TA programme through annual calls. Anonymised applications will be evaluated by a peer review process managed by the European Science Foundation independent of the Europlanet-2024 RI participants. In order to qualify for “transnational access”, the applicants should only apply for access to facilities outside of the country in which they are employed. The TA programme can support up to two researchers for each visit and covering a time-period ranging from a few days to several weeks.
While the Europlanet 2024 RI TA programme is designed to primarily support planetary science (and Earth sciences), applications from other research disciplines will also be considered based on innovation and potential scientific and technological impact.
Transnational Access calls are divided in two subcategories (detailed list of sites and facilities as well as contact details are provided on the Europlanet-RI website, http://www.europlanet-2024-ri.eu).
TA1 – Planetary Field Analogues (PFA)
Access to 5 field sites featuring a unique suite of natural environments presenting distinctive chemo-physical characteristics that make them unparalleled analogues of planetary bodies (e.g., Mars, Icy Moons, etc.). These comprehensively characterized, highly diverse Planetary Field Analogue (PFA) sites will provide researchers the capability to undertake multi-disciplinary research programmes that are needed to support planetary missions.
Details on the Planetary Analogue Sites are available on the Europlanet-RI website.
Ethiopa: due to the current political instability, access to the Danakil Depression will not be considered in this Fast Track call.
China: access to the Qaidam Basin will only be possible starting from TA Call 3 (which will likely open around Easter 2022).
Iceland: applications to the Iceland field sites will not be considered for this Fast Track call.
TA2 – Distributed Planetary Simulation Facility (DPSF)
Access to 13 internationally renowned research centres and 24 facilities in Europe, as well as 11 facilities in South Korea, for the simulation or characterisation of planetary conditions and materials. There is urgent need for access to these facilities because Europe is operating, preparing and planning a fleet of spacecraft to investigate the surface and atmospheric environments and compositions of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Titan, Europa, Uranus, Neptune, comets, asteroids and the Moon. Access to these laboratory simulation and analytical facilities will enable the validation of instrument design and performance, the study of physical and geological processes that form specific planetary environments, and the evaluation of biogeochemical processes that control whether life could evolve or survive.
Details on the Distributed Planetary Simulation Facilities are available on the Europlanet-RI website.
The Mars Chamber Facility (Open University, UK), the Planetary Environment Facilities (University of Aarhus, Denmark) and the Ice Chamber for Astrophysics/Astrochemistry (ICA) and ECRIS Laboratory (Atomki, Hungary) will not be accessible in the Fast Track calls.
3. Rules for participation
Maximum number of applicants funded per project
The expenses of up to two researchers will be covered per access visit. Upon agreement with the host facility, additional researchers will be allowed to visit the facility, but their expenses will not be covered.
Additional funding from other sources can be used to extend the duration of a TA visit or to arrange a follow up visit for data interpretation and preparation of a publication (subject to approval from the concerned facility).
Maximum number of grants per applicant
It is recommended that separate applications are made so that sample characterisation and the results from an initial visit are fully evaluated before any follow up work. Sequential applications are encouraged; for example, a field visit followed by analyses elsewhere. However, during the life span of the Europlanet project, applicants will not be supported more than four times (continued from Europlanet RI 2020) and not more than once through the “Fast Track” calls.
The unit of access to a TA facility or field site is a working day. The maximum duration of the visit depends on the category of the TA:
- For TA1 (PFA), the maximum duration for a visit is ten working days
- For TA2 (DPSF), the maximum duration for a visit is ten working days except under exceptional circumstances
Finances to cover TA visits are limited, so applicants are expected to make efficient use of the funds by using economy travel and hotels suggested by the host facility. Living expenses will depend upon the host city.
The eligible expenses covered by the call are:
- Travel (economy class)
- Accommodation (up to 100 Euros/night)
- Contribution to living expenses (up to 50 Euros/day)
Travel tickets and accommodation costs will only be reimbursed on production of receipts and the final visit report. Generally, accommodation will be arranged by the host facility. Travel tickets can be booked by the host facility following consultation. Expenses will only be transferred to the applicant’s bank account on production of receipts and the final visit report.
4. Eligibility Criteria
To be eligible and considered:
- Application should be submitted by 3 November 2021 at 14.00 (2pm) CEST (Brussels, Paris time)
- Applicants are required to first discuss the implementation plan with the host institute of the TA facility or field site before submitting their application.
- Applications should be written in English, using the font Arial – size 11 minimum, and should be filled in using the template available on the submission page
- The core of the application (all parts provided and uploaded as one pdf document) should respect the page limit (3 pages maximum all included, i.e. figures, tables, charts, etc.). All page limits indicated in the template are mandatory.
- Generally, the Project Leader of the application should work for an organisation based in an EU Member State or a Horizon 2020 affiliated country. Under Horizon 2020, up to 20% of the funds can be allocated to non-EU researchers.
- None of the Project Leader and co-applicant(s) should apply for a facility/site located in the country in which they are employed.
- The core of the application (all parts provided and uploaded as pdf document) are anonymous and therefore should not contain any information (name of the Project Leader and co-applicant, affiliation, publications, etc.) that allows identification of the applicant(s).
- The Project Leader and co-applicant(s) should be researchers involved in the visit (i.e. application on behalf of another person is not allowed).
- Maximum one application per applicants (same co-applicants) per TA category (PFA and DPLF) is allowed for each call.
Applications that do not respect any of the points above will be considered ineligible and will not go through the technical feasibility validation process and the scientific assessment.
5. Technical feasibility
All applications submitted will be forwarded to the designated operators of the TA sites, laboratories and facilities who will check and validate the technical feasibility of the investigations proposed.
The technical feasibility validation process is not a scientific assessment, it will not consider the application from a scientific point of view, but rather from an operational and technical implementation perspective.
If an application is considered not feasible, it will not go through the scientific assessment, and the applicant will be informed that their application did not pass the technical feasibility check.
6. Confidentiality and evaluation process
All participants in the peer review process will be required to note that in line with French Data Protection law No.78-17 of 6th January 1978 as amended and with the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (EU 2016/679) (GDRP), all information provided in the frame of the evaluation process, including the personal data of all the persons involved as well as the content of the project, should not be used for any other purpose than assessment. The Service Provider acknowledges that all information relative to submitted applications provided is of a confidential nature and should be treated as such.
The external experts performing the evaluation activity set forth will be expressly required to treat all information as strictly confidential and will be asked to endorse on an online non-disclosure agreement before having full access to applications and peer review documents.
The scientific evaluation process will be anonymous. All applications will be assessed by two external reviewers with relevant scientific expertise, identified by the European Science Foundation (ESF). The reviewers will not assess the technical feasibility of the applications, which was assessed by the TA site operators.
7. Evaluation Criteria
Each application will be assessed on four criteria:
- Criterion 1 – Innovative nature of the application (originality of the research proposed and/or of the methodology to be applied);
- Criterion 2 – Science and Technology excellence (overall scientific or technical merit of the application, soundness of concept, and quality of the objectives);
- Criterion 3 – Implementation (quality and effectiveness of the methodology and associated work, relevance of the facility/site, strategy for the utilisation and publication of new data);
- Criterion 4 – Scientific impact (how do the objectives and expected results contribute to advancing the state of the art; relevance for European and/or international planetary science and Earth science communities, past or future missions, and/or industry; overall scientific and societal impact for applications dealing with other research disciplines aside from planetary science and Earth science).
Each criterion will be rated on a 0 to 5 scale with an equal weight (total score on 20). The table below provides a guideline illustrating the value and meaning of individual marks.
|Numeric Score||Corresponding Wording||Definition|
|5||Excellent||The application successfully addresses all relevant aspects of the criterion in question. Any shortcomings are minor.|
|4||Very good||The application addresses the criterion very well, although certain improvements are still possible.|
|3||Good||The application addresses the criterion well, although improvements would be necessary.|
|2||Fair||While the application broadly addresses the criterion, there are significant weaknesses.|
|1||Poor||The criterion is addressed in an inadequate manner, or there are serious inherent weaknesses.|
|0||–||The application fails to address the criterion under examination or cannot be judged due to missing or incomplete information.|
8. Europlanet Policy – Reporting requirements
Successful applicants are required to prepare a short (approx. 2 A4 pages) report on their visit and findings. This report should also include plans of how they will disseminate their findings to the scientific community and to actively engage with the impact and outreach work packages within Europlanet 2024 RI to reach the general public. Moreover, the successful applicants are expected to present their results at a future Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC).
Data obtained from facilities operating within Europlanet 2024 RI will be stored at the host institution. These data will made available in open access a year after the agreed completion of the TA visit, except for commercially sensitive information.
In case of conflicting information found outside the call document, this call document prevails.
9. How to apply?
You will also be able to find guidelines on how to use the submission platform below:
The applicants will be required to indicate the following elements during submission:
Personal and contact information for the project leader (and co-applicant).
- This information will only be collected for contact purposes, and will not be available to the TA site operators nor to the review panel members.
- Transnational Access category: TA1 – Planetary Field Analogues (PFA) or TA2 – Distributed Planetary Simulation Facility (DPSF)
- TA site
- Project Title
- Abstract (max. 200 words) and Keywords
- Field of Research
- Site Visit duration in working days (specify number of days required for the main analytical phase, for the pre-analytical preparation and for data analysis).
Proposal Text (using the provided template, and respecting the eligibility criteria listed above):
- List of 3-5 main scientific objectives of your project
- Science and Technology:
Present the overall concept of your proposed work, show how it can be considered as innovative and/or original
- Implementation and Workplan:
Present the workplan and methodology(ies) to be implemented, indicate your reasons for selecting this particular facility/site. Explain what samples/equipment you will bring to the Facility and/or require the Facility to provide. For TNA1 field studies give details of any sample transport from the site. Justify the time requested for the main field/analytical and any preparation and data interpretation phases. Mention how data collected will be used, presented and published.
Show how your proposed work will contribute to advancing the state of the art, present its relevance for European and/or international planetary science and Earth science community, and/or past or future missions. For any non-planetary applications, justify the scientific and societal impact.
Any additional information addressed to the site operators about the technical feasibility
- Please indicate why this application would need to be funded through the Fast Track TA process as opposed to the usual TA calls which will open in spring 2022
- Do you request support for more than two investigators?
- Have you established a detailled implementation plan with the proposed TA site to ensure the feasibility of the project?
- Do you wish to bring to the attention of the TA site operators any specific elements concerning to the practical implementation and/or feasibility of the visit?
Agreement to the following:
- I understand that I will need to be covered by a medical insurance when conducting the TA visit (either through my own institution, or through a personal insurance if my institution does not fully cover me when working abroad). This is true for visits to both laboratories and field sites, but particularly relevant for field works in remote areas (Greenland, Iceland, Botswana).
- I understand that the payment of expenses for the TA visit will only be processed after the production of a written report on the visit, as proof to the EU that the visit was conducted.
- I agree to acknowledge the funding from Europlanet 2024 RI (under the grant agreement No 871149) in any publications or presentations that include data produced during the TA visit.