Expert Exchange Opportunity for Science Journalists / Science Communicators / Lecturers in Science Journalism
May 8, 2018

Open Call – Expert Exchange Opportunity for Science Journalists/Science Communicators/Lecturers in Science Journalism

Following our successful pilot of outreach-focused expert exchanges over the last few months, Europlanet 2020 Research Infrastructure (RI) has issued an open call for the expert exchange programme to invite journalists, science communicators or lecturers in journalism to spend a few days (maximum one week) in a Europlanet 2020 RI laboratory. Participants will be able to find out more about planetary science, how science is carried out and the life of scientists, with the aim of also helping scientists to understand how the media works and the world of journalism. Priority will be given to applicants from countries that are under-represented in planetary science*.

Application can be submitted any time until 31st December 2018 and the visits must take place before 30th April 2019.

The main objective of this exchange programme is to promote links between journalists/science communicators and members of the planetary science community.

Three visits took place following the first call in 2107:

  • Anastasia Kokori visited UCL in November 2017
  • Lukasz Lamza visited UCL, Mullard Space Science Laboratory and the Open University in January 2018
  • Prof Lidia Pokrzycka visited the University of Athens Observatory and Institute of Accelerating Systems and Applications in January 2018.

Details of the institutions and opportunities for this special expert exchange are below. If you are a journalist/science communicator or lecturer in journalism and are interested in participating in the expert exchange, please email the contacts from the facility you would like to visit to discuss potential goals and timings for your visit. Details of how to apply and the application form is online here:

Participating Laboratories:

Austria – IWF, Graz
France – IRAP, Toulouse
Greece – Institute of Accelerating Systems and Applications
UK – Open University, Milton Keynes
UK – University College London

IWF Graz, Austria

The Institut für Weltraumforschung (IWF) in Graz. Credit: IWF

The Space Research Institute (Institut für Weltraumforschung, IWF) in Graz has around 90+ employees and is one of the largest institutes of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. IWF has a 40-year heritage of providing scientific participation and hardware for space missions, ranging from magnetometers to onboard data processing for planetary-related missions, including Cluster, Venus Express, COROT, Rosetta and MMS. The visit would be hosted by Manfred Steller, who is leading one of the instrument development teams providing hardware to various missions.

Participants in an expert exchange visit to IWF will be able find out how new space hardware is developed, from the first design steps through to the actual assembly of electronics and instruments in IWF clean room, including test phases in one of the in-house thermal vacuum facilities. In parallel, the science behind the mission can be followed in the science teams associated to the missions from developing new concepts, running an actual mission and harvesting the data of IWF instruments currently in space. Participants will have the opportunity to meet and spend time with the engineers that design the test facilities and/or design the instruments, as well as members of the science team, from PhD students making their first steps in the field up to senior scientists heading an international instrument team.

To find out more about an expert exchange visit to IWF Graz, please contact Alexandra Scherr ( and Günter Kargl (

IRAP, France

The IRAP facility in Toulouse. Credit: IRAP

The Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology (IRAP) is a Mixed Research Unity (UMR 5277) of the CNRS and the University Paul Sabatier (PRES University of Toulouse) and is one of the leading facilities of ground-space astrophysics in France, employing around 300 people. The scientific objectives of the IRAP are the study and the understanding of the Universe and its content: the Earth as a planet, its ionized environment, the sun and its planets, the stars and their planetary systems, the galaxies, the very first stars and the primeval Big Bang. IRAP technical capabilities include the conception, construction, integration and operation of ground and space instruments and laboratory experiments leading to characterise physical process.

Participants in an expert exchange visit to IRAP will be able to visit clean rooms with flight/spare models of instruments for the BepiColombo and Solar Orbiter missions, as well as calibration facilities for space plasma instruments, and the Data Center for Space Plasma Archive (CDPP). Participants will be able to find out about the CHEMCAM instrument that is currently operating on the NASA Curiosity Rover on Mars and developments for the the SUPERCAM instrument, which will be carried by NASA’s upcoming Mars 2020 Rover. Participants may also have the opportunity to visit the Pic du Midi Observatory and have a demonstration of the planeterella aurora simulator. Researchers that participants can meet may include (list not exhaustive): Nicolas Andre (CNRS Research scientist), Philippe Louarn (IRAP Director), Vincent Genot (CDPP Director), Michel Blanc (Astronomer/Interdisciplinary scientist, Cassini-Huygens mission), Sylvestre Maurice (Co-PI of Mars 2020/SUPERCAM)

To find out more about an expert exchange visit to IRAP, please contact: Nicolas Andre ( and Dolores Granat (

Lecturer in journalism, Prof Lidia Pokrzycka, visited the University of Athens Observatory in January 2018 through a Europlanet expert exchange.

Institute of Accelerating Systems and Applications

The Institute of Accelerating Systems and Applications (IASA) is a University Research Institute that was founded in 1994 in order to promote research and postgraduate studies in the Greek University system. It is affiliated with six University departments: Physics, Informatics, and Medicine of the National Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA); Electrical & Computer Engineering, Chemical Engineering and General Science of the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA). The Europlanet team of IASA comes from the NKUA Department of Physics and has expertise in solar-terrestrial physics and the space radiation environment of Earth and Jupiter. The team collaborates with most space and planetary scientists in Greek Universities and Research Centres and has contributed to several space missions: NASA/Polar, NASA/THEMIS, ESA/Cluster, ESA/Rosetta (science responsibility for the SREM instrument), ESA/BepiColombo (SERENA instrument suite).

The University of Athens Observatory is located on the roof of the Department of Physics and houses a 0.4 m f/8 telescope, equipped with astronomical CCD cameras and spectrographs for imaging, photometric and spectroscopic observations. The Observatory has both a research and an education mandate and organises regular public talks followed by evening visits to the telescope.

Participants in an expert exchange visit to IASA will be able to visit the Observatory and meet students and faculty staff members involved in observational astrophysics, optical instrumentation and public outreach, including the Director, Prof. I.A. Daglis and Dr. Kosmas Gazeas. There will also be opportunities to meet the vigorously motivated SpaceGates team of graduate and undergraduate students, who share a strong interest in the communication of planetary and space science, astronomy and astrophysics to the general public through various channels and activities.

Finally, the IASA team will be able to arrange meetings with scientists in other institutions in Athens, who are engaged both in planetary research and in relevant public outreach – for example Dr. Olga Sykioti of the National Observatory of Athens (Mars) and Dr. Nick Sergis of the Academy of Athens (Saturn).

Interested exchange visitors should contact Prof. I.A. Daglis ( and Dr. Eleni Chatzichristou ( for details on a visit to IASA.

The Open University

Mars Test Faciltiy at OU. Credit: OU
Mars Test Faciltiy at OU. Credit: OU

The Open University (OU) hosts one of the United Kingdom’s leading centres for astronomy, planetary and space science. It has a long history of involvement in major Solar System exploration missions through the exploitation of instruments developed at the OU, such as on Cassini Huygens, Stardust, Genesis and, mostly recently, Rosetta where it was responsible for ‘Ptolemy’ the gas analyser on the Philae lander, co-developed with RAL Space. Current mission involvement includes Gaia, Bepi-Colombo and ExoMars whilst also being involved in future missions such as Euclid, Plato and JUICE. Astronomical research incudes the study of exoplanets and both observational and laboratory astrochemistry. The OU also has been at the forefront of developing astrobiology research.

Participants in an expert exchange visit to the OU will be able to find out about the development of space instrumentation, such as spectroscopic and imaging techniques for planetary atmospheres. They will also be able to visit the OU’s extensive range of laboratory facilities that are broadly sub-divided into those used to characterise the chemistry and isotopic composition of matter in the Solar System (e.g. nano-SIMS) or the simulation of Earth and Planetary processes (e.g. Mars atmosphere and surface simulation chambers). They will also be able to meet the team coordinating Europlanet 2020 RI, which is led by the OU, and find out more about building a pan-European community for planetary science.

To find out more about an expert exchange visit to the OU, please contact or

University College London (UCL)

Science communicator and journalist, Anastasia Kokori, visited UCL through Europlanet’s expert exchange programme in November 2017

UCL is one of the United Kingdom’s leading centres for planetary and exoplanetary science. It houses expertise in understanding planets in our Solar System from their deep interiors, through their surfaces and atmospheres, to their space environment, as well as the characterisation of planets orbiting distant stars. It also leads development of the next generation of space instrumentation. This expertise is complemented by world leaders in astronomy, terrestrial and solar science, life and chemical sciences. Participants in an expert exchange visit to UCL will be able to visit facilities and meet researchers at:
– UCL’s main campus in the historical area of Bloomsbury in the heart of London
– Mullard Space Science Laboratory/Department of Space and Climate Physics (MSSL), the UK’s largest university-based space research group, located in the Surrey Hills
– the UCL Observatory (UCLO) at Mill Hill, one of the best-equipped astronomical facilities for student training and research in the UK.

UCL is involved in future missions to Mars, Jupiter and other Solar System bodies, as well as the ARIEL and Twinkle missions to characterise the atmospheres of planets orbiting other stars (exoplanets). UCL has contributed to recent international space exploration missions, including the Cassini mission to Saturn, the Rosetta mission to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Venus Express and Mars Express.

Researchers that participants can meet may include (list not exhaustive): Nick AchilleosGiovanna TinettiGiorgio SaviniGeraint Jones

To find out more about an expert exchange visit to UCL, please contact Nick Achilleos ( and Anita Heward ( .

* Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.