Expert Exchange: New collaborations between Australia and Botswana for the investigation of terrestrial extreme environments
Europlanet 2024 RI’s Expert Exchange Programme aims to support the planetary community to share expertise and best practice, and to prepare new facilities and services. The programme provides funding for short visits (up to one week).
Andrea Borsato and Silvia Frisia of the University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, visited Fulvio Franchi at the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST), Botswana, from 5-16 September 2022.
The visit was intended to initiate a new collaboration between Australia and Botswana and provide training for the academic and research staff in how to select, collect, preserve and analyse specimens of astrobiological and microbiological interest and set up an environmental monitoring program.
The first 4 days of the visit were dedicated to the field trip to Gcwihaba cave (Kwihabe, Ngamiland), which preserves thousands of years of climate and environmental history and can be utilised as an analogue to detect traces of ancient microbial life on Earth.
The following part of the visit took place at BIUST’s geochemical laboratories in Palapye, which include stable isotope MS and the trace element ICP-MS and ICP-OS facilities. The visitors discussed with technical and academic staff strategies and approaches in order to optimise the micro-sampling techniques and geochemical analyses. They also explored opportunities to analyse the trace element concentration of some Botswana continental carbonates samples at the X-ray fluorescence beamline at the Australian Synchrotron, as well as the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility.
During the visit, Dr Borsato and Dr Frisia delivered a workshop and lecture series attended by academic and technical staff as well as post-graduate candidates of the Earth and Environmental Science Department of BIUST. The lectures and workshop sessions were followed by Q&As. Attendees were given pratical and theoretical training in microscopy techniques.
Expert Exchange Objectives covered by this visit: Improvement of Facilities and Infrastructure, Training for Transnational Access, Early Career Support.
Find out more about the Europlanet Expert Exchange Programme.
Next Call For Europlanet Expert Exchange Programme
The deadline for the next call will be 30 September 2023. Visits through this call should take place between 1 November 2023 and 31 January 2024.