The European Community for Planetary Sciences

Europlanet Society Briefing
December 2020

In this Briefing

Word from the President

A year ago, none of us could have imagined what we would all endure in 2020. The global Covid pandemic has been a challenge for all of us and sadly many of us have lost colleagues, family and friends.  

Despite these challenges, Europlanet has continued to develop with the launch of the new H2020 funded Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure and the expansion of the Europlanet Society. EPSC2020 was held online for the first time, with a record number of attendees for a stand-alone EPSC and the greatest number of countries represented to date.  To all our partners, colleagues and friends worldwide: thank you very, very much for supporting Europlanet and helping to build that community. To all those working in the Society and Research Infrastructure: thank you for your extraordinary efforts. 

I personally wish you all the very best for 2021 and hope that we will have the opportunity to meet one another, not least at EPSC2021 in Helsinki in September  

Best wishes for the festive season and Happy New Year.

Nigel Mason
President, Europlanet Society
Coordinator, Europlanet 2024 RI

Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) News

Call for Applications - TA call 2

Submission deadline: 6 January 2021

The second call for applications for the Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) Transnational Access (TA) programme opened on 10 November 2020. If you are interested in submitting an application, please consult the call page. You will have until 14:00 CET on 6 January 2021 to submit your application.

If you missed our webinar on "How to apply successfully for a Transnational Access (TA) Call”, you can catch up now on the video presentations.

TA Visit: Searching for the mysterious source of sulphur dioxide on Jupiter’s icy moons

Duncan Mifsud, PhD student at the Centre for Astrophysics and Planetary Science of the University of Kent, and Zuzana Kanuchova of INAF Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma, took part in the first Transnational Access (TA) visit funded by the Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI). Learn more here >>

Europlanet Society News

Europlanet Science Congress Chairs

We are delighted to welcome Stavro Ivanoski and Akos Kereszturi as Co-Chairs of the Scientific Organizing Committee (SOC) for EPSC2021 and EPSC2022, as well as Maarten Roos as Chair of the Virtual Organizing Committee (VOC).  

First projects granted to observe at the Europlanet Telescope Network

After its launch in June 2020, we have already received the first applications to the Europlanet Telescope Network and now granted the first four proposals. All these successful projects will perform asteroid observations remotely on different facilities of the network, with the first observations starting in January 2021. Since Europlanet 2024 RI also seeks to address gender inequalities, as well as researchers from under-represented countries in planetary sciences, it is noteworthy that all of these projects are led by female scientists from an under-represented country.

The Call for Observations at the  Europlanet Telescope Network is a rolling call to which you can submit your proposal at any time. We are aiming to provide a decision on the funding of any submitted proposal within just two months. For further information on the Europlanet Telescope Network, its opportunities and how to apply, please visit the call page or email

You will find some further information on the first four successful proposals below (more details on the projects will soon be available on the Europlanet website):

  • Reducing the selection effects in asteroid spins, shapes, and thermal parameters; A. Marciniak (proposer), Poland; 7 nights at Observations at Moletai Astronomical Observatory, Lithuania
  • Characterization of V-type asteroids outside the dynamical Vesta family; D. Oszkiewicz, Poland; 8 nights at Chuguev Observatory, Ukraine
  • Precise asteroid volumes from Gaia and ground-based observations I; M. Polinska, Poland; 6 nights at Tartu Observatory, Estonia
  • Precise asteroid volumes from Gaia and ground-based observations II; M. Polinska, Poland; 5 nights at Observatorio del Teide, Spain.

Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn

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 here >>
Follow on Twitter >>

Industry and Policy at EPSC

"More Science Less Fiction" - Niklas Nienaß MEP

One of the highlights of the year for Europlanet 2024 RI was the Industry and Policy session at EPSC2020, which brought together policymakers, planetary researchers, and entrepreneurs to debate on the future of planetary and space research in Europe. If you missed it, you can see extracts from the talk by Niklas Nienaß, Member of the European Parliament for Germany on “More science, less fiction”, or watch the full session recording here >>

Featured Events

Machine Learning Session at vEGU21

Gather Online on 19-30 April 2020

The session "Machine Learning in Planetary Sciences and Heliophysics" is open for abstract submission until 13 Jan 2021, 13:00 CET. We encourage submissions dealing with machine learning approaches of all levels in planetary sciences and heliophysics. Learn more here >>

Soapbox Science Brussels

On 10 October, the first Soapbox Science event took place in Belgium, with support from the Europlanet Benelux hub, the Royal Observatory of Belgium, and the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy. Soapbox Science is an international initiative to promote women in science and their work in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. This Soapbox Science highlighted seven researchers who shared their passion for science. Learn more here >>


#InspiredByOtherWorlds Arts Contest - Virtual Award Ceremony

22nd December 2020 at 16.00 CET

During EPSC, members of the public, schools and space enthusiasts of all ages were invited to get creative and share their artworks and performances inspired by other worlds in a contest called #InspiredByOtherWorlds. The winners will be announced in a virtual award ceremony and posted on the Europlanet Society website
Learn more here >>

Europlanet Community Corner

EPEC Profiles

Foivos Karakostas

Foivos Karakostas is a PostDoctoral Associate at the University of Maryland. His field is planetary seismology and he works for the NASA InSight mission.
EPEC Profiles - Call for submissions
If you are an early career professional and want to showcase your research in an EPEC Profile: 
Find out how to participate here >>

Inspiring Stories

Using science fiction to teach astrobiology

In this EPEC Inspiring Outreach Story, Julie Nováková from the Charles University in the Czech Republic and the European Astrobiology Institute tells us how she edited an anthology of science fiction stories to help astrobiology outreach and education. Read it here >>


Geology & Planetary Mapping Winter School

The PLANMAP team, in collaboration with Europlanet’s GMAP initiative, announces the first PLANMAP winter school on planetary geologic mapping and 3D geological modelling, which will be held virtually from 1-5 February 2021. The PLANMAP Winter School will provide an overview of the technical and scientific skills needed by the next generation of planetary mappers. Find out more >>

Early Careers Training and Education Platform

Search for your next opportunity on Europlanet's Early Careers Training and Education Portal, with information on PhD positions, job opportunities, summer schools, and meetings relevant to early career professionals working in planetary science and related fields.
Find out more here>>

Early career opportunities should be mailed to

Planetary Science Highlights

COVID-19 lockdown effects on gender inequality

In a letter to Nature Astronomy, Laura Inno, Alessandra Rotundi & Arianna Piccialli report on assigned first-author gender submissions by Italian astronomers published on arXiv during the first semester of each year from 2017 to 2020, and discuss implications for productivity between male and female researchers during COVID-19 lockdowns and impacts on gender inequality.   Read more here >>

Have your own publication you want featured in the Europlanet Society Briefing?

If it has a link to Europlanet we want to see it! Send a copy to so we can let the community know.

Society Members' Area

Funding Opportunities and Policy Reports

The Europlanet Society will be providing information about upcoming calls and funding opportunities relevant to planetary science and space on its website. Members should log into their account to access details on funding opportunities and the full monthly policy reports.
Did you know? As Europlanet Society member, you can share your planetary science news via our newsletter. Contact the editorial team!
Not a member yet? Click here to join the Europlanet Society!
Copyright © 2020 Europlanet Society, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp

Europlanet 2024 RI has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 871149.