Europlanet Science Congress 2020
Virtual meeting
21 September – 9 October 2020
Europlanet Science Congress 2020
Virtual meeting
21 September – 9 October 2020

Oral presentations and abstracts


Knowledge creation is a collaborative process including synergies between different disciplines, communities and stakeholders. The framework of open science is also connected to the involvement of people outside academia, such as amateur societies, school students, corporate partners etc. Open science has a variety of aspects and applications. What are the efforts done in the field of planetary sciences to establish and increase openness? To what degree planetary science researchers and practitioners endeavour accessibility within the various communities - academics and non-academics? During this session these and other relevant questions will be addressed through the presentation of open planetary science projects, tools, data and platforms. Furthermore, the current status and the potential for future efforts towards an open and public planetary science scheme will be discussed.
Planetary scientists, researchers and other stakeholders are welcome to present any relevant ideas and current efforts in the context of promoting open & public science.

Public information:
11:20–11:24 Introduction
11:24–11:28 Opening Science for educational purposes
11:28–11:32 Towards knowledge co-creation - Opening Scientific Research to the public
11:32–11:36 Practices and tools to support Open Science
11:36–11:40 Building an Open Scientific Community

Convener: Anastasia Kokori | Co-conveners: Caterina Boccato, Angelos Tsiaras

Session assets

Session summary

Chairperson: Caterina Boccato
Rosie Cane, Tony Thompson, José Utreras, and Paul Roche

The Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) provides free access to the world’s largest collection of planetary simulation and analysis facilities. The project is funded through the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme and runs for four years from February 2020 until January 2024. The Transnational Access (TA) programme supports all travel and local accommodation costs for European and international researchers to visit 24 laboratory facilities and 5 Planetary Field Analogues (PFA) [1].

As part of the education and inspiration tasks associated with Europlanet 2024 RI, we have produced classroom resources aimed at age 10-14 year olds relating the conditions found within the PFA sites to astrobiology and the habitability of Mars.

These resources have been produced around all PFA sites:

  • Rio Tinto River (Spain)
  • Iceland Field Sites (Iceland)
  • Danakil Depression (Ethiopia)
  • Kangerlussuaq Field Site (Greenland)
  • Makgadikgadi Salt Pans (Botswana)

These resources link in with common areas found in worldwide STEM curriculums, such as volcanism, pressure, pH and evaporation. To achieve this, we have filmed lab-based demonstrations and included them in a classroom lesson plan alongside teachers' notes. In addition, each lesson plan focuses on how the conditions of the PFA’s could affect the habitability of Mars, as can be seen in Figure 1.

Following studies such as Salimpour et al 2020 [2], highlighting the extent to which astronomy has been incorporated into school curriculums, we have chosen to highlight three subject areas with lower representation in high schools into our resources; physics, space exploration and astrobiology.

As these analogue sites can be linked to more planetary bodies than just Mars, our next steps are to create similar resources based around the habitability of the icy moons of the Solar System.

Figure 1. Outline of resource plans for Europlanet Planetary Field Analogues.

References: [1] The Europlanet Society, TA1 Planetary Field Analogues (PFA). Available at: [2] Salimpour, S., Bartlett, S., Fitzgerald, M.T. et al. The Gateway Science: a Review of Astronomy in the OECD School Curricula, Including China and South Africa. Res Sci Educ (2020).

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

How to cite: Cane, R., Thompson, T., Utreras, J., and Roche, P.: Educational Resources for the EPN24 Planetary Field Analogue Sites, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 Sep–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-612,, 2020.

Divya M Persaud and Eleanor S Armstrong

There is a pressing need for climate-friendly conferences that are accessible to different people and which can still connect scholars meaningfully. The pressure on virtual conferencing technology in a COVID-19 era, as well as the many years of disabled activism around remote access and virtual meetings, make this an even more important issue. Furthermore, the need for dynamic intersection and collaborative work between the spheres of science and technology studies (STS), environmental and other justice-based activism, and the space sciences around issues of space ethics, governance, and human rights grows more urgent.

We will discuss Space Science in Context (14th May, 2020), an experimental virtual conference aiming to bring together space scientists, activists, and STS scholars, funded through the UCL Researcher-Led Initiative Award. The conference used a flipped-classroom model for 12 invited talk videos and ~30 multimedia e-posters across three primary sessions and two e-poster sessions, and engaged ~450 attendees worldwide. Invited talks were provided with full transcripts and closed captioning by Academic Audio Transcription, a company committed to the fair employment of disabled people. On the day of the conference, the five sessions were hosted at different times in video-chat hybrid formats. We reflect on the different access-centred aspects of this experimental format and their efficacy in facilitating cross-disciplinary conversations.

How to cite: Persaud, D. M. and Armstrong, E. S.: Access-centred virtual conferencing for planetary science and beyond: reflections from Space Science in Context 2020, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 Sep–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-211,, 2020.

Giulia Mantovani, Federico Di Giacomo, Livia Giacomini, and Caterina Boccato

This critical period we are living worldwide forced us to rearrange our way of engaging general public and students to talk about science. Internet and computers are the most used tools for education and public outreach. INAF (National Institute for Astrophysics) has embraced this new way of interacting with the public by developing virtual tours and exhibits of its museums and telescopes spread all over Italy. In this years, INAF’s researchers, thanks to “Polvere di stelle”, the cultural heritage for Italian astronomy, and the editorial staff of EduINAF, the official INAF online magazine for education, have collected and developed a series of virtual tours of the INAF observatories, telescopes and museums managed by the institute. By staying comfortable at home, general public, students and professors can easily access guided tours, which will fully immerse the users to admire the whole scientific and historic INAF’s heritage. During the presentation, some examples will be displayed to the audience.

How to cite: Mantovani, G., Di Giacomo, F., Giacomini, L., and Boccato, C.: Virtual tours and exhibits: an innovative tool for education and public outreach in INAF, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 Sep–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-940,, 2020.

Daniele Gardiol and the PRISMA Team

I will tell the story of the recent success of the italian fireball network PRISMA (Prima Rete Italiana per la Sorveglianza sistematica di Meteore e Atmosfera) in finding the first italian meteorite thanks to the computation of a precise strewn-field made possible by observations with eight all-sky camera of the network. And how this success is due to close cooperation among professional astronomers, amateur astronomers, astronomy enthusiasts and simple citizens. 

How to cite: Gardiol, D. and the PRISMA Team: PRISMA and the finding of the Cavezzo meteorite: the success of a close collaboration among professional astronomers, amateurs and citizens, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 Sep–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-1051,, 2020.

Stella Kafka

The American Association of Variable Star Observers was formed in 1911 as a group of US-based amateur observers obtaining data in support of professional astronomy projects. Now, it has evolved into an International Association with members and observers from both the professional and non-professional astronomical community, actively supporting ground and space-based variable star projects. As such, the AAVSO’s main claim to fame is that it successfully engages backyard Astronomers, educators, students and professional astronomers in astronomical research, building inclusive international communities around its portfolio. I will present the main aspects of the association and how it has evolved with time to become a premium resource for variable star researchers. I will also discuss the various means that the AAVSO is using to support cutting-edge research, and give updates on the tools and resources that are now available to researchers worldwide.

How to cite: Kafka, S.: The AAVSO’s program: creating inclusive citizen science communities, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 Sep–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-314,, 2020.

Angelos Tsiaras

The field of exoplanets is one of the most rapidly growing, with more than 4000 new planets discovered over the past 25 years. In the last decade, we have entered in a new era, the era of exoplanet characterisation, where studies are also focused on understanding more about individual exoplanets, through follow-up observations. Follow-up observations can be used to better constrain the architecture and the dynamics of the planetary system, to detect and characterise the atmospheres of the planets in the system, and to efficiently plant future dedicated observations. Many ground and space-based observatories contribute to this effort from different perspectives already, and new ones are being designed at the moment. In addition, more exoplanets are being discovered on a daily basis. Overall, the variety and the amount of follow-up observations are increasing year by year. In this context, the effort of characterising exoplanets calls for an efficient way of extracting the most information out of all the available observations and sharing this with the community, though a centralized platform open to as many members of the community as possible. While many observatories provide publicly available data, in such a rapidly growing and diverse field a really open platform cannot be limited to sharing open access data alone.

In this talk I will discuss about the contribution of the Hubble Space Telescope to the characterisation of a population of exoplanet atmospheres over the last 10 years, emphasising the importance of publicly available data but also the limitations in extracting and sharing the information in them. More specifically, I will focus on the need for dedicated data archives and publicly available data analysis tools.  Also, I will discuss how the lessons learned can be used as a prototype for an open platform for the characterisation of exoplanets in the future.

How to cite: Tsiaras, A.: Exoplanet Atmospheres with HST: An open science framework for the characterisation of exoplanets, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 Sep–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-630,, 2020.

Anastasia Kokori
The ExoClock Project ( is an open, integrated, and interactive platform, designed to maintain the ephemerides accuracy of the Ariel targets. Ariel is ESA's medium class space mission prepared for launch in 2028. The main aim of the mission is to characterise a large number of exoplanets to better understand their nature. ExoClock aims to provide transit mid-time predictions for Ariel by collecting all currently available data (literature observations, observations conducted for other purposes, both from ground and space) and by efficiently planning dedicated efforts to follow-up the riel targets. ExoClock is open to contributions from a variety of audiences —  professional, amateur and industry partners — aiming to make the best use of all available resources towards delivering a verified list of ephemerides for the Ariel targets before the launch of the mission. 
In this presentation strategies, tools and the current status of the ExoClock project will be described in detail. In addition, the first results will be presented briefly and finally, lessons learned and the potential of using similar strategies in other projects will be discussed.

How to cite: Kokori, A.: The ExoClock Project: an open integrated platform for maintaining the Ariel target ephemerides with contributions from the public, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 Sep–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-662,, 2020.

Julie Nekola Nováková

Science fiction has and for a long time has had a potential to reach wide public and influence its perception of various matters. It may, therefore, serve as a good material for outreach purposes to get actual science across to the public. In a time when the public interest in science dwindles across multiple regions of the worlds and its perception is often skewed by hasty reporting, such a concept that can grasp the attention of people across a wide spectrum of demographics is most useful. Indeed, science fiction has been used in STEM education e.g. in lectures and books by James Kakalios or Andrew Fraknoi, who even keeps an irregularly updated list of SF stories featuring good astronomy [1].

For outreach and educational purposes at the European Astrobiology Institute (EAI), we have compiled an anthology titled “Strangest of All” [2] (see cover in Fig. 1) that contains eight science fiction reprint stories by respected authors, showcasing the following astrobiological topics: 1) life in a subsurface ocean, 2) life under high pressure, 2) possibilities for exotic life in the Kuiper Belt, 4) exotic photosynthesis, 5) Dyson spheres, 6) the SETI program, 7) the Fermi Paradox, and 8) planetary protection. Each story is accompanied by a nonfiction follow-up article and classroom tips written by the editor and biologist Julie Nováková, who has experience in science and teaching as well as SF writing and publishing. The anthology was made available for free download at the websites of the European Astrobiology Institute and the editor. Its publication was featured on multiple science outreach and SF literature platforms in several languages. The book was further popularized by follow-up interviews with the authors, who include well-known scientists and at the same time writers such as University of California’s Gregory Benford or NASA’s Geoffrey Landis.

The following example illustrates how a SF story can be used to showcase practical aspects of astrobiology and support interest and critical thinking: “War, Ice, Egg, Universe” by G. David Nordley (orig. in Asimov’s, 2002) shows intelligent species on a moon harboring a liquid water ocean underneath an ice shell. The story can not only be used to i) point out the existence and detection methods of such oceans on multiple moons within our solar system, but also to ii) illustrate the possible conditions of such an environment and the impact they would likely have on local life, should any exist, iii) mention analog environments on Earth, iv) let the readers question the premise of intelligent life – would there be sufficient resources to even support multicellularity, can we constrain and calculate the biomass e.g. Europa or Enceladus could support, etc. If used as a school exercise, students may be divided into groups to research and critically discuss various aspects of the theme.

The book has been downloaded several thousand times as of the time of submitting the abstract, and has elicited good reviews on Goodreads. In the future, we hope to follow up on “Strangest of All” with a print anthology of SF stories written originally for the project in direct collaboration with experts, each of whom will write the nonfiction follow-up. We are also planning to utilize science fiction with good science and interesting themes in other outreach activities such as contests and exhibitions, and to evaluate the impact of such activities using e.g. Europlanet’s Outreach Evaluation Toolkit [3]. A project team “Science Fiction as A Tool of Astrobiology Outreach and Education” has been founded at the EAI.


[1]. Astronomical Society of the Pacific: EDUCATION & OUTREACH: Resource Guides: Science Fiction Stories with Good Astronomy & Physics: A Topical Index. Available at: (Accessed: 28th June 2020)

[2]. Nováková, Julie (European Astrobiology Institute): STRANGEST OF ALL: AN ANTHOLOGY OF ASTROBIOLOGICAL SF. Available at: (Accessed: 28th June 2020)

[3]. Europlanet Society: EUROPLANET EVALUATION TOOLKIT. Available at: (Accessed: 28th June 2020)