Activity Outline: Understand how the chemistry of the Martian soil may affect the habitability of the Red Planet. This involves taking a closer look at how temperature and salinity can affect the chemistry of Mars.
Mars Collection of Educational Resources: Support for Educators
To support educators in using the new Europlanet Mars Collection of teaching resource packs, we are releasing a series of short videos that introduce the collection as a whole and the individual resources.
The video provides support for educators using the Europlanet Mars Collection of Educational Resources. The first resource pack (1. Extremophiles) gives an introduction to life found in extreme environments, exploring the kind of stresses we may find on Mars and how life can adapt to survive these.
Europlanet Educational Resources – The Mars Collection
Europlanet 2024 RI has produced a set of school resources exploring the possibilities of life on the Red Planet. The resources have been produced to be easily translatable in order to facilitate ease of dissemination across Europe and beyond. The resources link areas of the curriculum with research into past and present conditions on Mars and how we can study these conditions via analogue sites here on Earth. The project covers a range of topics, from geoscience and volcanoes, to pH and even mineral deposition viewed through an astrobiological lens.
Italian versions of the resources with video lessons produced by EDU INAF are now available at: Terra chiama Marte.
The first set of resources in the Mars Collection gives an introduction to life found in extreme environments, exploring the kind of stresses we may find on Mars and how life can adapt to survive these.
Training in Storytelling and Theatre as a Tool for Science Outreach
The Europlanet Society’s Committee Funding Scheme provides awards of €1000-5000 to supports projects that further the aims of the Europlanet Society and actively involve its members. In 2020, the Society supported an application by the Benelux Hub for a project called ‘Planetary Atmospheres Accessible to All’ that would enable researchers to collaborate with performers and storytellers in producing unique augmented lectures that use performing arts techniques to engage public audiences.
This online workshop, aimed at 10 selected BIRA / IASB / Europlanet researchers, has provided the practical tools to become storytellers of science with a special emphasis on addressing a general audience and/or students.
The workshop was divided into three half-day sessions (11, 14, 18 December 2020, 09:00 → 13:00 ).
The first half-day focused on defining and prioritizing the key themes which help to communicate Aeronomy to target audiences, by connecting them to societal issues. A process of collective intelligence and design thinking has been used to facilitate the emergence of key themes that can be integrated in the Augmented Lectures, if they will be produced.
Based on the outcomes, the second session has provided training in the creation of a science outreach story and its delivery (storytelling). We focused on and applied the fundamental ingredients of stories (starting from a simplified Hero’s Journey). Each participant has had the chance to prepare one short story on his/her topic of interest.
During the third half-day session, these stories have been presented to invited artists, and possible collaborations have been explored between art-science pairs to cocreate Augmented Lectures to further enhance the project.
The online workshop by Dr Andrea Brunello and Dr Pierre Echard of Jet Propulsion Theatre (JPT) was supported by the Europlanet Society Benelux Hub.
Organisers: Dr Andrea Brunello (JPT), Dr Ann Carine Vandaele (BIRA-IASB), Dr Arianna Piccialli (BIRA-IASB), Karolien Lefever (Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy), Dr Pierre Echard (JPT)
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.
Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn – 21 December 2020
Over the last months of 2020, Jupiter and Saturn have dominated the night sky. Now, as the year ends and as their positions approach twilight, they will end up offering a final show: the Great Conjunction, a “Gathering of Giants”. Their closest apparent approach, as viewed from Earth, will occur on December 21 at 18:27 (UTC), at which time the angular separation of these gas giants will be only 6.11 minutes arc. Another similar conjunction will not occur until the year 2080. The previous one took place on July 16, 1623.
The Spain and Portugal Hub of the Europlanet Society has joined forces with observatories across Spain and around the world to encourage the participation of professionals and amateur observers and outreach activities to celebrate this event. A series of online events are taking place, including a webinar this evening (21 December 2020 – 6:30 PM CET [5:30 PM UT]), with simultaneous connections to the different observatories. Find out more on the Europlanet Society Spain and Portugal Regional Hub page. Follow on Twitter.
“Planets In Your Hand” – in lockdown but still active in outreach
This guest post is from the “Planets in Your Hand” project, which received funding from Europlanet 2020 RI through the Europlanet Outreach Funding Scheme 2017.
The “Planets In Your Hand” (PIYH) team at the University of Athens in Greece stays continuously in touch with the public through its social networks. On an almost daily basis, the most interesting science news and discoveries related to the field of Planetary Science and exploration are posted, while the team interacts with the readers via their comments and questions. The team has also remained active during the entire lockdown period, by participating in online outreach events and conferences.
The “Planets In Your Hand” team participated in the EPSC 2020 Conference by presenting a poster entitled: “Planets In Your Hand: The social impact of a tactile experience” on September 21st, 2020. In the context of “EPSC 2020 goes live for schools” and in order to continue the science communication with the general public despite the difficulties, the scientific coordinator of the PIYH program, Dr. Kosmas Gazeas, gave a live talk in collaboration with the Lecturers Without Borders (LeWiBo). This talk, reaching schools all over the world, was entitled: “A walk on the Moon”. An abundance of classrooms attended the activity with many students participating actively and asking questions, resulting in an overall rating of 9.6/10 among the talks from all viewers and participants.
During World Space Week 2020 (WSW 2020), “Planets In Your Hand” team celebrated the contribution of science and space exploration to humanity. Following all safety procedures and taking under consideration the special circumstances and national restrictions, the team celebrated this year in an alternative way. Every day and throughout the week, an image of the planets and the moons of our Solar System was posted on social media and disseminated throughout the public. Every image was accompanied by a caption and a text with interesting information about the depicted planetary object and its history of exploration. These astronomical images were taken by the “Planets In Your Hand” team members during WSW 2020 from the University of Athens Observatory (UOAO). The audience showed their enthusiasm by posting their comments online.
Enhancing the “Planets In Your Hand” outreach impact, during the last day of WSW2020 festivities, an online public talk was given by Dr. Kosmas Gazeas, in collaboration with the Amateur Astronomical Association of Sparta “Dioskouroi”. The title of the talk was: “Comets: The visitors of our Solar System” and it was broadcast live from the Astronomical Union’s YouTube channel:
If you would like to find out more about “Planets in your Hand” and the group’s activities, follow them on Facebook
The European Researchers’ Night, funded under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions, is a Europe-wide public event that brings researchers closer to the general public. The Night showcases the diversity of science and its impact on citizens’ daily lives, stimulating interest in research careers – particularly among young people.
Many of Europlanet 2024 RI’s partners are taking part. Find out what they are doing:
Austrian Academy of Sciences
The aim of the European Researchers’ Night is to get young people excited about science and research. The IWF-Graz also supports this concern and will be using the opportunity of Researchers’ Night to share with videos, chats and a science flash to arouse visitors’ curiosity for some of its wide-ranging research topics.
Prof Barbara Cavalazzi will be giving three webinars this evening on “Space in Africa and the search for life in our Solar System”, featuring the Europlanet 2024 RI Planetary Field Analogue site, the Dankil Depression:
Spazio in Africa (18:00-18:20)
Astrobiologia chiama Africa (19:00-19:20)
Danakil Depression – a Multisensory Experience (20:00-20:20)
Public vote now open for #InspiredByOtherWorlds Arts Contest: People’s Choice for best artwork
The vote closed on 16 December. The results will be announced in a webinar on 22 December at 16:00 CET.
As part of the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2020, the#InspiredByOtherWorlds Arts Contest invited schools and space enthusiasts of all ages to get creative and share their artworks and performances inspired by other worlds.
The contest has received 72 entries from artists, space enthusiasts and children from Europe, Asia, USA and South America.
We are now launching a public vote campaign that will allow everybody interested in the contest to participate actively in choosing the People’s Choice winners.
Based on the variety of the received artworks, we have decided to designate three categories – Young, Adult and Overall Best Artwork.
The voting campaign will end on 16 December 2020 at 23.59 CET.
Please note: The title and author of the artwork can only be seen in the gallery, not in the voting form.
Shortly after we will announce the winners on the contest webpage and will organize a brief virtual award ceremony where you will be able to hear a bit more about the inspirations behind the winning artworks.
Stavro Ivanovski on behalf of the #InpiredByOtherWorlds contest team.
Objectives of Europlanet outreach and public engagement
The Europlanet Society’s outreach activities aim to raise the profile of planetary science amongst European citizens, policy-makers, industry and the media, and support planetary scientists in engaging different audiences with their research. The Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) project, and planetary science research in general, are funded through public money and are publicly accountable.
Why engage with planetary science?
Planetary science has a direct relevance to our understanding of our own planet, its origins, its past and future evolution, the conditions needed for life, and threats from our space environment, such as solar storms or Near-Earth Asteroids. Europlanet aims to engage European citizens in dialogue about this research and to communicate the scientific, social, economic and cultural impact of planetary science.
Exploration and planetary science can act as a hook to inspire the next generation to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM). Europlanet aims to create and curate high-quality teaching resources and activities for use in classrooms and informal learning settings.
The Europlanet Society and Europlanet 2024 RI offer the following services to support outreach and education initiatives within the planetary science community:
Training: we run workshops to equip planetary scientists with the skills to convey their work effectively to different audiences. In 2021, we plan to hold a “train-the-trainers” workshop at the Moletai Astronomical Observatory in Lithuania, where we will support members of the community to develop their own training workshops to deliver via the Europlanet Regional Hub network.
Best practice: we coordinate sessions and workshops to share knowledge within the community. Our annual meeting, the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC), includes several sessions related to different aspects of outreach and education in planetary science.
Prize: we award an annual prize for public engagement in planetary science.
Funding Scheme: we provide seed funding for new and innovative outreach projects.
Europlanet Evaluation Toolkit: we have developed easy-to-use evaluation tools to help assess the impact and outcomes of education and outreach activities.
Resources: We are collating some of the best outreach and education resources related to planetary science to share with the community. From 2020-2024 will also be developing new educational resources related to the activities of Europlanet 2024 RI and the planetary science community, with the aim of making these accessible in multiple languages.
Online seminar: Theatre as a Tool for Science Outreach
This online seminar by Dr Andrea Brunello of Jet Propulsion Theatre (JPT) and is supported by the Europlanet Society Benelux Hub.
Organisers: Dr Andrea Brunello (JPT), Dr Ann Carine Vandaele (BIRA-IASB), Dr Arianna Piccialli (BIRA-IASB), Karolien Lefever (Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy), Dr Pierre Echard (Jet Propulsion Theatre (JPT))
Friday 20 Nov 2020, 10:00 → 12:00 Europe/Brussels
In this online seminar we will briefly introduce the experience of the Jet Propulsion Theatre (JPT), a scientific outreach project born in 2012 from the collaboration between the Compagnia Arditodesìo and the Physical Sciences Communication Laboratory of the Physics Department of the University of Trento.
Following that, we will proceed by illustrating various approaches used in the field of science-infused theatre. Finally, we will provide some tools and ideas useful in the construction of original science outreach theatre plays with a special focus in storytelling applied to communicating science. The last part of the seminar will be devoted to comments, questions and answers.
The Europlanet Society Congress 2020 (#EPSC2020) invited members of the public, schools and space enthusiasts of all ages to get creative and share their artworks and performances inspired by other worlds in a contest called #InspiredByOtherWorlds.
Members of the public were asked to cast their votes for their favorite artwork. The vote is now closed.
In this EPEC Inspiring Outreach Story, Rutu Parekh, a second year PhD student at the DLR Institute of Planetary Science and Chair of the EPEC Diversity Working Group, tells us about a recently launched EPEC project entitled ‘Motivational Journeys’.
‘Motivational Journeys’ is a collection of interview recordings which I started together with several of my EPEC colleagues. The story behind this idea is very much personal to me. As a doctoral student, every day I struggle to improve myself in work and sometimes this struggle gets ahead of me. As a consequence, it takes me hours and sometimes days to get back to my work. During these tough times, I need a reminder of my capabilities and an assurance that all this struggle will be worth it one day. To overcome these feelings, I used to look for talk shows or books to provide me with reassurance. I realised how these narratives help to rebuild my confidence and that’s why I decided to create ‘Motivational Journeys’. Later I discussed this idea with my colleagues and they encouraged me to transform it into reality.
Initially the execution seemed deeply challenging. However, later on Maarten Roos and Anita Heward stepped in to provide all the necessary support in filming the interviews and putting them online.
For the ‘Motivational Journeys’ we have interviewed scientists who are specialised in their respective field. They have shared their journey to become a scientist – a path which has been full of obstacles, difficult choices and hard times.
Each of them was brought up in a different environment and culture. The only thing in common between them is the quest for science and courage to never give up on their dreams under any circumstances, even though they were aware of the fact that their passion demands constant dedication and hard work. Today each of the scientists are successful in their respective field and have managed to put forward some wonderful scientific work with their constant commitment.
In today’s era, early career scientists face lots of troubles regarding mental pressure, difficulty in surviving academia, gender biasing and constant issues of self-doubts. This sometimes has led them to leave the scientific career or can lead to mental and physical health problems. Many of them are not always comfortable sharing their problems out loud or discussing it with their colleagues or friends. In tough times, they may need a bit of motivation to give them reassurance and help them to pass the rough days. With this series, we hope to reach younger generations and inspire them to become successful researchers in the years to come.
By participating in this project, I have not only heard new stories, but it has also helped me to understand the true meaning of struggle. While talking with all of them I realised that it is not necessary to always be successful in the work we do. It’s not the only the successes that matter, sometimes failure also teaches us lifelong lessons. I believe that sharing such stories is beneficial not only for young scientists, but also for the public because it shows the level of dedication that has been put into every minute detail, and the circumstances that scientists work under. We should not only show the results of our work publicly, but it is also important to make sure that future generations of students are aware how academia and research work.
To date we have released three interviews, with five more scheduled. You can hear the personal stories narrated by scientists here or follow Rutu on: