In this topical conference, the first in the LPI’s BAS initiative, we will explore the environments where brines may presently exist, their potential habitability, and their role in ongoing and active planetary processes.
Abstract deadline: August 11, 2021 Registration deadline: September 27, 2021.
The trans-chronological theme of the workshop attempts to capture the interest of planetary scientists whose work is seminal to Mars’ geology but, perhaps, has received less attention than deserved. In the deep past of Mars; through the mid to the late Late Amazonia Epoch; stretching to the recent past or even today.
A close flyby of the planet Venus between 9 and 10 August, led to an (almost) meeting of the Euro-Japanese BepiColombo and the Euro-American Solar Orbiter (SOLO) spacecrafts. Venus isn’t the final destination of either mission but the approach to the planet made it possible to collect valuable data for future studies.
“The almost-contemporary flyby at Venus of Solar Orbiter is a great opportunity to have more data and an additional point of view of the Venus environment. We’ll take advantage of it!” says Valeria Mangano, coordinator of the ESA working group on Venus flybys of the BepiColombo mission.
SOLO will use Venus’s gravity multiple times to get closer to the Sun and to change direction to get a good look at the Sun’s poles (a first for a spacecraft), while BepiColombo needs gravitational help from Earth, Venus and Mercury itself to reach its destination. BepiColombo, named after the Paduan mathematician, physicist, astronomer and engineer Giuseppe Colombo, is the result of the collaboration between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) with European leadership. The aim of the mission is to unveil the deepest secrets of Mercury, the planet closest to the Sun and one of the least explored in the Solar System. Four out of the sixteen instruments and experiments on board BepiColombo were built by Italian industry and the Mercury Planetary Orbiter carries onboard the Italian instruments ISA, SERENA and SIMBIO-SYS, and the MORE radio-science experiment.
ESA’s SOLO spacecraft encountered Venus at an altitude of 7995 km 33 hours earlier than BepiColombo and on the opposite face of the planet. Its main mission is to observe the surface of the Sun and study the changes that occur in the solar wind that is emitted at high speed by our star. Among its ten instruments, SOLO carries Metis, the innovative coronagraph born through an international collaboration led by the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) and supported by the Italian Space Agency (ASI), involving several universities in Italy and research institutes in the world.
Approaching Venus has allowed the two spacecraft to make several science investigations of the planet’s atmosphere and its induced magnetosphere and ionosphere. During its flyby, the Solar Orbiter Heliospheric Imager (SoloHI) was able to capture a view of the planet Venus’s nightside, which appeared as a dark semicircle surrounded by a gleaming, bright crescent of light. The day after and a few minutes after BepiColombo’s closest approach of 552km, the Mercury Transfer Module’s Monitoring Camera 2 took this beautiful black-and-white snapshot with the high-gain antenna and part of the body of the spacecraft visible in front of Venus.
The Venus Flybys Working group (VFBWG, here the relative ESA webpage), Valeria tells us, aims to promote discussion on Venus science as related to the BepiColombo passages nearby the planet, and also by taking advantage of some of the complementary observations from Earth-based telescopes and by amateur astronomers. Europlanet 2024 RI is actively involved in this, by supporting and encouraging the amateur observations through a campaign coordinated by Ricardo Hueso and Itziar Garate-Lopez from UPV/EHUin Spain. You can find some of the images collected after the first BepiColombo Venus flyby last October on the Planetary Virtual Observatory and Laboratory (PVOL) website. The working group also supports coordination of Venus observations by BepiColombo and other spacecraft. JAXA’s Akatsuki spacecraft, for instance, is now in orbit around Venus and joint observations of the plasma environment surrounding the atmosphere of Venus will enable, again, new insights concerning the planet that were not previously achievable.
Apparently the data for the public will becoming through and continuously being uploaded to the ESA’s dedicated webpage but it will take some time.
“Now that the flyby at Venus has passed, we are all working hard at the data analysis, interacting among the teams to gain the most comprehensive view of what we measured. This is at the same time the most stressful and exciting moment of the flyby, when you realise if all the efforts we did of planning the ‘best possible measurements’ really worked and will bring us results or not,” Valeria Mangano continues.
Even more exciting is that all the data collected during the flybys will provide useful inputs to ESA’s future Venus orbiter, EnVision, which is scheduled to launch to Venus in the 2030s.
It seems that the heavens will continue to give us great, emotional highlights in the years to come and we can do nothing but wait, anxiously, for the next planetary dance. The next appointment is for the night of 1-2 October, when BepiColombo will finally see its long dreamed-of destination, making its first of six flybys of the planet Mercury.
Inspiring Stories – #PlanetaryScience4All: A Video Contest for Virtual Science Communication
In this EPEC Inspiring Outreach Story, Melissa Mirino (doctoral candidate at The Open University and of the Chair EPEC Communications Working Group) shares how the extraordinary experiences of 2020 inspired her to launch a contest to bring together the early career community. This story is an extract from the first Issue of the Europlanet magazine.
The year 2020 will be always remembered as a year of isolation, disruption of the normal daily activities, and in extreme cases a year of loss. However, during this period we all did our best to find alternative solutions to carry on with our lives, jobs and activities and remain positive and connected with each other using the current available technologies. Research and academia have not been an exception. Both the Europlanet Society and the Europlanet Early Career Network (EPEC) did their best to remain active, and to guarantee the usual sharing of ideas and scientific results by transforming the EPSC 2020 Conference into a virtual meeting.
As Chair of the EPEC Communications Working Group, I wanted to create an activity that could combine the EPEC goal of supporting early careers, our working group’s aim of communication, and the need to transform face-to-face activities into a shareable, interactive and online form to support the EPSC2020 virtual meeting. The idea of a video contest came to mind. This format is already considered by many universities as a good way to train and challenge students in science communication. Since the main subject of EPSC is planetary science, the topic of the video contest was easy to identify. With support from the EPSC2020 Outreach and Europlanet Communications teams, and many months of planning, creating and sharing the new activity, the #PlanetaryScience4All video contest became a reality. #PlanetaryScience4All challenges early career students to present their research in four minutes to a non-expert audience.
The first edition (2020) of the contest was open to Ph.D. candidates involved in planetary science studies, asking them to explain their Ph.D. research using any type of creative video format (Lego movies, drawing, PowerPoint, storytelling, etc.). The videos were judged based on criteria of scientific content, communication skills, and creativity by a panel of experts from the Europlanet Community. All the contestants and their videos were featured in live sessions during EPSC2020, promoted on YouTube, and shared widely on social media. The winning video was highlighted through the Europlanet website and newsletters, and it has also been used for EPEC outreach activities. The winner of the 2020 edition, Grace Richards, received free registration to this year’s EPSC2021 meeting. Recently, Grace and Gloria Tognon, another contestant, have also joined the EPEC Communications Working Group to support our activities. Based on the success of the 2020 competition, I feel confident that #PlanetaryScience4All will become a traditional part of EPSC.
The second edition is now open, this year welcoming Bachelor’s and Master’s students, as well as PhD candidates working on a thesis related to planetary science.
Entro il 23 Luglio 2021 è possibile applicare per richiedere il rimborso della quota di iscrizione al congresso EPSC2021 (nel caso di registrazione anticipata), nonché della quota per l’Abstract Processing Fee.
Possono richiedere il rimborso: -professionisti a inizio carriera (entro 7 anni dall’ultima laurea) -studenti di dottorato -astronomi amatoriali -divulgatori -educatori -ricercatori da Paesi sotto-rappresentati
E’ necessario che i candidati abbiano un abstract accettato per per la conferenza (per presentazione orale o poster).
Per applicare è sufficiente compilare il form online. I candidati prescelti riceveranno comunicazione nella settimana del 26 luglio, per consentire loro di registrarsi prima della scadenza della quota di registrazione anticipata del 3 agosto.
L’Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI) chiama la comunità scientifica e industriale nazionale a presentare, in un evento interamente virtuale, lo stato dell’arte delle proprie attività di ricerca e sviluppo di tecnologie per lo sfruttamento delle risorse in situ (ISRU) su Luna, Marte ed asteroidi. L’appuntamento è per il 6 Ottobre 2021 al workshop “Ricerca & Sviluppi Tecnologici per In-Situ Resources Utilization”.
La partecipazione è libera, ma è necessario registrarsi entro il 10 settembre 2021 attraverso il modulo online.
Le proposte e gli interventi possono riguardare uno dei seguenti argomenti:
Acquisizione, preparazione, classificazione delle risorse
• Tecnologie per la produzione di consumabili (es. acqua, ossigeno, propellenti)
• Tecnologie per la produzione di risorse per manufacturing
• Generazione e storage di potenza in-situ
• Estrazione e storage materiale per sample return mission
• Facility per testing e validazione a terra di tecnologie
Ulteriori informazioni sul workshop nella brochuredi presentazione.
The goal of this five-day virtual meeting is to bring together data users, providers, engineers, developers, and researchers to discuss approaches, challenges, applications of informatics, technologies, and capabilities in planetary science.
The INAF-Institute for Space Astrophysics and Planetology (Rome, Italy) is seeking applicants for one “Postdoctoral Research Fellowship” in the context of the research project “Modelling of surfaces of solid bodies of the Solar System and comparison with data from space probes and terrestrial analogues in the laboratory”.
Deadline: 30 June 2021.
The grant is based on the project “EXOMARS Ma_MISS”, “DAWN” and “Rosetta/VIRTIS” and will be carried out under the scientific supervision of dr. Maria Cristina De Sanctis and dr. Fabrizio Capaccioni.
The expected start date is September 2021, with a duration of 12 months and the potential of renewal.
The successful candidate is expected to work on the surface and subsurface modelling; data analysis from space instrumentation (VIR instruments on DAWN, Ma_Miss on ExoMars 2022, VIRTIS on Rosetta) and laboratory data analysis (analogous materials and meteorites).
More information with the complete description of the position and the documents to fill out here.
Inspiring Stories – Outreach activities in a European project like PLANMAP
In this EPEC Inspiring Outreach Story, Gloria Tognon, a doctoral student at the Center of Studies and Activities for Space ‘G. Colombo’ of Padua (Italy), tells us about her experience of taking part in the European PLANMAP project.
Scientific knowledge is not just intended for a limited number of people and should be shared and made accessible to everyone. The Horizon 2020 PLANetary MAPping (PLANMAP) project is committed to the production of highly informative geological maps of Mars, Mercury, and the Moon, and every European partner dedicated part of its activities to communication and dissemination.
The main aim of PLANMAP was for several products (geological and spectral maps, 3D geomodels, and virtual environments) to be made freely available online to the scientific community as well as the general public. A particular focus was put on the promotion of planetary geology to young people through the creation of downloadable artworks, digital story maps, and a comic novel published in a special issue of the PLaNCK! Magazine about PLANMAP, “Geomapping other worlds” , which also contained interviews with young researchers working on the project.
Within the framework of outreach activities for young people in the general public, all PLANMAP partners actively organised and participated in festivals, public talks, seminars and school activities. Kids in particular were the main targets of European Researchers’ Nights, and although the events were open to the general public, I can tell you that young people from 5 to 10 years old constituted the real audience. The creation of games and video presentations as a way to engage and hold their attention while explaining difficult ideas in the easiest and funniest way was a crucial step. It may not always be easy for adults to think of ways to communicate science to young people, but for me, videos and games represent a recreational pursuit and a super rewarding experience.
Less imagination and more practical thinking were required in February 2021 when the PLANMAP project concluded its activities, and put its last efforts into organising the virtual ‘Geology & Planetary Mapping Winter School’, which engaged more than 50 instructors from at least 9 European institutions to address 150 registered participants from all around the world. During the school, I had the great opportunity to share my knowledge of planetary geologic mapping with the students, and to organise the final event displaying the ‘Virtual Reality environments for planetary applications and training for astronauts’. Promoted, funded and sustained by the Ambassade de France en Italie-Institut Français en Italie, Center of Studies and Activities for Space “G. Colombo” of Padua and the PLANMAP project, this event provided online lectures and a virtual reality experience simultaneously held in Padua and Nantes. Participants had an amazing chance to have a real-world perception of another planet, and take a field trip to Mars to perform scientific measurements in the field.
I can assure you that engaging with people and sharing your knowledge with them will help you develop your communication skills and self-confidence. Above all, it is the most worthwhile life experience!
Wednesday 26 May, starting at 21:30, the largest and most spectacular full moon of the year will be the main character of the first episode of the new EduINAF’s format “Il cielo in salotto“. Meaning “the sky in your living room”, it aims at bringing science and astronomy closer to the public with live astronomical observations. For this specific occasion, the supermoon will be observed, weather permitting, by the astronomers of some INAF Observatories scattered throughout Italy, (Trieste, Asiago, Rome and Palermo). To comment on the beauties of the sky, Sandro Bardelli, from Bologna, will be our guide on this journey on the Moon, between astronomical curiosities and the latest scientific missions and discoveries, accompanied by guests such as Maria Cristina De Sanctis and Francesca Altieri, researchers at the INAF IAPS in Rome, the geologist Matteo Massironi of the University of Padua, Caterina Boccato, in charge of the INAF Teaching and Outreach, Simone Iovenitti, PhD student at INAF and University of Milan and together with many other partners and guests who will help us to look at the Moon with new eyes.
Special guest of the evening is Samantha Cristoforetti, who will tell us, in a video, her point of view on the Moon and its exploration, and who will receive as a gift the collective portrait of the asteroid 15006 Samcristoforetti made as a tribute to our astronaut in the recent astrophotography challenge, organised by EduINAF in collaboration with the community of italian amateurs.
The appointment is on the EduINAF’s YouTube channel: go here to find all the information!
The second call for applications for the Europlanet 2024 RI Transnational Access (TA) programme returned a positive response to the Ma_Miss (Mars Multispectral Imager for Subsurface Studies) team for a geological and spectroscopic field analysis campaign at the Rio Tinto site in Spain. The main objective of the project is to collect spectral data and samples useful for testing the ExoMars2022/Ma_MISS spectrometer. Ma_MISS is the miniaturized visible and near-infrared (VIS-NIR) spectrometer, integrated into the drilling system of the ESA ExoMars/2022 Rosalind Franklin rover, dedicated to the Martian subsurface exploration. “The Rio Tinto represents an example of how life can adapt to extreme environments: this may give us clues as to what kind of life may have once developed on Mars” says Marco Ferrari from the INAF/IAPS in Rome, “and scientific results from previous work with other drilling equipment and scientific instruments show that the Rio Tinto site has ideal mineralogical/biological characteristics to test the Ma_MISS spectrometer also in the context of Oxia Planum, the selected landing site of the ExoMars/2022 mission“.
During the field campaign, the team plans to perform a series of VIS-NIR measurements collecting a representative sample of each mineral that will be subsequently measured with the breadboard Ma_MISS at the INAF/IAPS laboratory. All the efforts focused on any spectral signature related to the presence of biomarkers in the collected data with the aim of understanding whether the Ma_MISS instrument can be of any help in detecting traces of life in the Martian subsurface, which is one of the main scientific objectives of the ExoMars/2022 mission.
The findings of this study will be published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at major planetary science-related international congresses, as well as during scientific public outreach events.
WHEN: 14-16 September 2021 WHERE: Virtual DEADLINE: 28 May 2021
“Geology Without Borders“: this is the theme of the 90th edition of the Italian Geological Society’s Conference, which will take place virtually on 14-16 September 2021. The conference wants to be a wish for an exchange of knowledge among researchers, not only Italian, to promote and strengthen the Earth Sciences, which should be considered not only as a necessary tool for the best understanding of the interior of planet Earth but also as a defense of the society from dangerous geological events, for the understanding of climate variations, the planning and use of geo-resources in an ethical way and with the respect and preservation of the environment. The event will be of great interest for the whole international planetary community, which is invited to participate by registering here and submitting an abstract before 28 May 2021 – 7:00 p.m. CET. A list of the fees is reported in detail on the related page. Two different planetary sessions are indeed planned, both held in English, with two international keynote speakers, one per session: P26. The cosmic challenge: from interplanetary dust to the bricks of life Conveners: Lidia Pittarello, Cristian Carli P27. The contribution of geology to the knowledge of Solar System bodies Conveners: Valentina Galluzzi, Alice Lucchetti
During the conference the awards ceremony of the competition “On the rocks” will be held. This competition asks students, PhD students, researchers, professionals and geology enthusiasts of any age to describe their research or new ideas on Earth in a creative and absolutely informal way, by producing short films of any kind. More information on the competition, which will close on 25 July 2021, on the dedicated page.
A conference and a competition through which to have fun and learn at the same time: what more could you ask for?
This workshop will focus on discussing a strategic, multi-decadal science framework for solar and space physics to enable community members to incorporate into framing their own white papers to the Decadal Survey process. The community will create a cohesive science strategy that will enable the ability to:
Identify essential science investigations necessary for major advancements in solar and space physics.
Use the desired investigations to identify the research and capability development needed to meet the requirements of these missions.
Recognize research needed in the next decade to prepare for the long-term research goals.
Recognize work needed to ensure a pipeline from basic research to pre-application research and then into operational needs, including the operations-to-research loop that strengthens forecasting and other predictive capabilities.
Spring 2021 is a season of ‘supermoons’, with the Full Moon in April and May coinciding within 10% of the closest lunar orbital distance to Earth. These luminous supermoons, which are about 7% bigger and about 15% brighter than a typical Full Moon, provide a remarkable opportunity for engaging the public.
We thought it would be fun to gather images, or artwork, of the Moon in its different phases between the April Supermoon and the May one. Making these observations is a great way to see how the Moon changes during the month: look for how the Moon rises and sets later each night, and how the illumination and so shape we see changes too.
The supermoon on 26th May will be the closest Full Moon of the year. Facilities from the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) are joining forces to carry out a live event on EduINAF’s social channels.
During the Italian streaming, aired on the 26th on EduINAF’s main social channels from 9.30pm to 11pm (CET), there will be an opportunity to learn much more about the Moon. INAF astronomers will guide the audience through the live observations of the moon seen by the various observatories involved with images and insights from guests.
You have the chance for your images to be shown during this broadcast too – as images from our SuperLuna! Observing Challenging will be included in the live broadcast. We will also be putting a gallery on our website. This is not a competition, we would just like as many people to participate as possible, so we will make a random selection from the entries to receive an ESA goody bag.
Join the SuperLuna Campaign!
If you are up for the challenge, upload your pictures to this Flickr group and post them on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #SuperLuna If you do not use Flickr, you may submit your pictures via the form below.
Resources for observing the Moon
We have put together some resources to help you observe, photograph and find out more about the Moon. Read more.
If you have an image or animation that is too big to upload, you can send it by WeTransfer to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you an amateur astronomer, a professional or a simple sky enthusiast? Get involved with An Asteroid for Samantha, the astro-photography campaign dedicated to the return to orbit, in 2022, of Samantha Cristoforetti.
Edu INAF, in collaboration with the Italian Association for Astronautics and Space, the Astronomical Observatory of the Autonomous Region of Valle d’Aosta and with the support of the Italian Amateur Astronomers Union, invites you to hunt 15006 Samcristoforetti, the main belt asteroid dedicated to Samantha, take a picture and share it with the Edu INAF editorial team. Your image, along with the others that will arrive, will be given as a gift to Samantha to accompany her on her journey to the International Space Station!
Use the hashtags of the event #UnAsteroidePerSamantha #Samcristoforetti #AnAsteroidForSamantha.
The INAF-Institute for Space Astrophysics and Planetology (Rome, Italy) is seeking applicants for one “Postdoctoral Research Fellowship” in the context of the research project “Analysis of Oxia Planum from remote sensing data and terrestrial laboratory analogs of Mars and Ceres”.
Deadline: 22 January 2021.
The grant is based on the project “EXOMARS Ma_MISS” and “DAWN” and will be carried out under the scientific supervision of dr. Maria Cristina De Sanctis and dr. Francesca Altieri.
The expected start date is April 2021, with a duration of 12 months and the potential of renewal for further two years.
The successful candidate is expected to work on the data analysis of the Oxia Planum site and on laboratory activities for the preparation and characterization of analogs of Ceres and Mars.
More information with the complete description of the position and the documents to fill out here.
A few days ago, on December 21st, the entire world has raised its eyes to the sky to admire the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, popularly and somewhat erroneously known as the “Christmas Star”. For this particular occasion, which will not occur until the year 2080, in Italy, some headquarters from the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) have joined forces and carried out live, on EduINAF‘s Facebook and YouTube channels, the event “Jupiter and Saturn: the meeting of the giants”.
What made last Monday a remarkable astronomical event was indeed the positions of these two planets: although being aligned in the sky about once every 20 years, it’s been nearly 400 years since Jupiter and Saturn passed this close to each other in the sky, and nearly 800 years since this alignment occurred at night, allowing nearly everyone around the world to see this “great conjunction”. The previous one was on July 16, 1623. However, on that occurrence the two planets were too close to the Sun to be easily observed. We must go back to the late Middle Ages, precisely to March 4, 1226, to find a celestial event of similar magnitude, potentially visible in the terrestrial skies.
During the italian streaming, aired on the 21st on EduINAF’s main social channels from 5pm to 7 pm, astronomers from the INAF guided the audience(of over 10000 people) through the live observations of the planetary conjunction seen by the various italian observatories involved (Roma, Trieste and Palermo) also showing images collected in the previous days both from Italy and other telescopes in the world. The experience was made even more interesting by the insights the astronomers gave about the most recent discoveries in the field of planetary physics and the relevance of this celestial event, exceptionally occurred on the day of the winter solstice.
If you missed it and you want to discover more and more about this fascinating encounter of giants, you can look to this gallery of images and watch the recording of the streaming (available in italian) here.
In this new series from the EPEC Communication Working Group, we meet members of the Europlanet Early Career (EPEC) community and find out more about their experiences and aspirations.
Melissa Mirino is currently studying for a PhD in the field of planetary geology at the Open University (UK). For her doctoral dissertation, she is studying ancient river systems on Mars called inverted channels.
Since she was an undergraduate student at the University of Rome 3, Melissa’s main research interests have focused on the application of remote sensing in the geological study of rocky bodies in the Solar System. After pursuing her Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Geology, she took up many opportunities to study abroad, winning several scholarships and travel grants. As a result, she has collaborated with local and international research institutes and universities to develop projects in the field of planetary science.
Melissa has worked with several kinds of datasets from the ESA Mars-Express, NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and NASA Dawn missions, analysing features on Mars, Vesta and Ceres in collaboration with the Italian institute INAF-IAPS and Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany. In 2017 she took part in an internship at the European Space Agency (ESA/ESTEC) to work with both radar and spectral data from the North Polar Cap on Mars.
Melissa has also collaborated in international projects related to:
Astronaut Analogue Simulations (in collaboration with ESA, the Space Generation Advisory Council and Lunares).
A stratospheric balloon project (promoted by the International Space University and the University of South Australia)
Rover trials (as part of the OU team and Exo-fit simulation in support of the Exo-Mars rover mission).
Melissa also has a personal interest in inspiring the next generation to pursue careers in science. As an undergraduate student she worked in a museum and planetarium located in Rome (Museo Geopaleontologico Ardito Desio) to engage students with topics related to geology and astronomy. She worked as PhD tutor for the Brilliant Club, an award-winning charity that works with schools and universities across the UK to increase the number of pupils from under-represented backgrounds progressing to leading universities. As a PhD tutor, she developed and delivered tutorials about planetary geology.