Europlanet 2024 RI TA Call – 2020

1. 2020 Call

This call is now closed.

Open call: 25 February 2020. Submission deadline: 05 May 2020 at 14.00 (2pm) CEST (Brussels, Paris time) – CLOSED

Coronavirus: The time period during which the TA visits can be undertaken has been extended to the end of 2021.

1.1. Deadline

Application to the TA call should be filled in using the template available on the call page and submitted before 05 May 2020 at 14:00 (2pm) CEST (Brussels, Paris time). 

1.2. 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 proposals to the TA programme through annual calls. Anonymised proposals 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, 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).

1.2.1 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. Note: the timing of field campaigns means that visits to Greenland will occur in 2021 and this may also be the case for some visits to Iceland.

1.2.2 TA2 – Distributed Planetary Simulation Facility (DPSF)

Access to 24 facilities within 13 internationally renowned research centres 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.

1.3 Rules for participation

1.3.1 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).

1.3.2 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).

1.3.3 Projects duration

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), typical visits are five working days with the maximum duration for a visit set at ten working days, except under exceptional circumstances

1.3.4 Funding principles

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.

1.4 Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible and considered:

  • Application should be submitted by 05 May 2020 at 14.00 (2pm) CEST (Brussels, Paris time)
  • Applications should be written in English, using the font Arial – size 11 minimum, and should be filled in using the template available on the call and 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 applicant per each TA is allowed for each call. 

Proposals 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.

1.5 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. Applicants are strongly advised to conduct detailed discussions with the host institute before making an application.

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 undergo scientific assessment, and the applicant will be informed of the outcome of the validation process and why their application failed. 

1.6 Confidentiality and evaluation process

1.6.1 Confidentiality

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. 

1.6.2 Evaluation process

The scientific evaluation process will be anonymous. All applications will be assessed by a disciplinary panel set up by the European Science Foundation (ESF). Review panels will be constituted to reflect the scientific profiles of all submitted applications. The review panels will assess applications submitted to the two TAs that fall within in their scientific expertise. 

All applications will be made available to the review panel members, and each application will be assessed by two review panel members (rapporteurs) before the review panel meetings. 

During the review panel meetings (teleconference), each application will be presented in detail by their rapporteurs and discussed by the full review panel. The review panel will then agree on an overall mark for each application and produce two ranked lists of applications, one for each of the TA category (TA1 and TA2).

1.7 Evaluation Criteria

Each proposal will be assessed on four criteria: 

  • Criterion 1 – Innovative nature of the proposal (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 proposal, soundness of concept, and quality of the objectives;
  • Criterion 3 – Implementation (The quality, effectiveness and feasibility of the methodology and associated work, relevance of the facility/site, strategy for utilisation and publication of the new data);
  • Criterion 4 – Scientific impact (How the objectives and expected results contribute to advancing the state of the art; relevance of the project to the European and/or international planetary scientific community and/or past or future missions and/or industry and other research disciplines).

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 ScoreCorresponding WordingDefinition 
5ExcellentThe application successfully addresses all relevant aspects of the criterion in question. Any shortcomings are minor.
4Very goodThe application addresses the criterion very well, although certain improvements are still possible. 
3GoodThe application addresses the criterion well, although improvements would be necessary.
2FairWhile the application broadly addresses the criterion, there are significant weaknesses.
1PoorThe criterion is addressed in an inadequate manner, or there are serious inherent weaknesses.
0The application fails to address the criterion under examination or cannot be judged due to missing or incomplete information.

1.8 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.

1.9 How to apply?

The submission platform is now closed.

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.

Proposal Information

  • Transnational Access category: TA1 – Planetary Field Analogues (PFA) or TA2 – Distributed Planetary Simulation Facility (DPSF)
  • Primary and Secondary TA sites
  • 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):

  1. List of 3-5 main scientific objectives of your project
  2. Science and Technology:
    Present the overall concept of your proposed work, show how it can be considered as innovative and/or original
  3. 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.
  4. Impact:
    Show how your proposed work will contribute to advancing the state of the art, present its relevance for European and/or international planetary scientific community and/or past or future missions. For any non-planetary proposals, justify the scientific and societal impact.

Any additional information addressed to the site operators about the technical feasibility

  • Do you request support for more than two investigators?
  • Have you been in contact with the proposed TA site to discuss 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.