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


New communication and learning technologies as VR, Expanded Reality or languages as videogames are revolutioning the way we communicate science and can have a deep effect in the communication of planetary science, a field particularly friendly where to develop this kind of projects. We also address in this session the use of Planetary Science as a local development tool to reinforce the social dimenssion of the discipline and change its social perception. In particular we welcome communications related with experiences in communication of planetary science in social deprived realities and contexts including connection with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to transform our world. We also include in this broad session our traditional exhibit for artists and scientists whose works are related to planetary science, including but not limited to data art, infographics, sculptures, paintings, digital art, static, moving and interactive, visual, sonic, textual and tactile works.

Convener: Jose Antonio Gordillo Martorell | Co-conveners: Adrienn Dorsánszki, Henrik Hargitai

Session assets

Session summary

Anita Heward

I present a series of works inspired by planetary bodies, created from copper and pewter sheet that has been worked through chasing and repoussé techniques to describe topographical relief, and with patinas and oxidation applied to add colour and contrast.

In this oral presentation, I propose to show some of the techniques and effects used in creating the works, discuss how the project has come about through a combination of personal and professional inspirations, and consider how a combination of ancient artform and kitchen chemistry can be used to look at cutting-edge planetary mission data in new ways.  


Chasing (working metal from the front) and repoussé (working metal from the back) are ancient decorative techniques that date back to at least 1600 BC[i]. When used on thin, soft, metal sheeting, detailed relief work can be achieved with a set of simple tools without need for annealing or pitch backing.

Since 2014, I have used copper and pewter sheet to create a number of works related to planetary bodies, including the Moon, terrestrial planets and the moons of Jupiter. As well as making wall-mounted panels, I have experimented with suspending double-sided 2D representations to make mobiles and decorations.

Pewter is a soft metal, composed mainly of tin, that can be worked easily from either side to create detailed relief designs. Application of an oxidising solution, via immersion or using a soft cloth, will achieve a range of tones from dull grey to black. Bright, silver-coloured highlights can be achieved through polishing.

Copper is an extremely versatile material. Its natural bright orange colour lends itself to the representation of Mars or Venus. However, heating with a blow-torch or the application of patinas can result in a wide range of colours, from pinks and yellows through to deep blues and greens [Fig. 3].

I use lead-free pewter sheet (95% Tin, 4% Antimony & 1% Copper) of 0.15mm thickness and 50cm width, and copper sheet of 0.127mm thickness and 30cm width. The sheets come in rolls of up to 2-3.5+ metres, enabling the creation of relatively large-scale installations. Application of a thin layer of lacquer to finished works prevents patinas from flaking and prevents polished metal from tarnishing.

Description of works

Phases of the Moon

I have created a number of works in pewter, ranging from around 10 cm to 1.8 metres, representing the phases of the Moon [Fig. 1]. Topography is not to scale but uses the LROC GLD100 model as a guide, as well as a range of visual images taken by ground-based observers. In interpreting the essentially black-and-white images of the Moon through the medium of oxidation of pewter, it can be a challenge to understand the respective contributions of the geology on the reflectance of the surface, and the angle of illumination in producing light and dark areas. This is a particularly important consideration when working at larger scales.

Terrestrial planets

I have created sets of individual panels representing the four terrestrial planets [Fig. 2], with Mercury and the Earth in pewter and Venus and Mars in copper. Topographical data from Messenger (Mercury), Magellan (Venus), NOAA ETOPO1 (Earth), MOLA/Mars Global Surveyor (Mars) has been used for reference in creating relief features.

Earth / exoplanets

Household ingredients and cleaning materials (salt, vinegar, ammonia, sawdust) can be used to create copper patinas ranging from a dull olive green to bright turquoise and deep blue, which can give the impression of vegetation or oceans in terrestrial landscapes [Fig. 4].

Outer planetary systems.

The range of colours produced by oxidising copper during heat treatment lends itself well to the vivid colours of Jupiter’s moon, Io. The ultramarine and turquoise colours of clouds on Neptune and Uranus may be represented through copper patinas. Over the summer, I intend to work on a series related to outer planets and their moons. My presentation will detail work in progress as well as the final versions.

[i] Metalworking through History: An Encyclopedia, By Ana M. Lopez, Pub: ABC-CLIO, 2009. pp47-48

How to cite: Heward, A.: "Chasing" The Planets, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 September–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-230,, 2020

| MI
Barbara Cavalazzi, Samantha Tistoni, Francesco Altobelli, and Anita Heward

The beauty of Earth is clear! Earth's aesthetic beauty lies in the patterns, shapes, colours and textures of the land, oceans, ice and atmosphere, and this is evident to both scientists and artists who are fascinated by discovery and hypothesis, bythe surreal and the sublime, and by sounds from barren environments.

Enthralled by the extreme harsh nature of the Danakil Depression, an extreme landscape between volcanoes and salty deserts – considered one the most inhospitable places on Earth – and inspired by the intensity of the light and colours, and by the resilience of the Afar culture, the authors will explore the beauty of the Earth by combining visual and sonic artwork, science, image and sounds influenced by a trip to the Danakil Depression in 2017 sponsored by Europlanet, thereby creatively expanding the fields of inquiry interested in reflecting upon our planet Earth.


Acknowledgement. We thank Dr. Hickman-Lewis for ideas exchange on the importance of the integration of science and art. This work is a contribution to Europlanet 2024 RI Horizon 2020 (grant No 871149).

How to cite: Cavalazzi, B., Tistoni, S., Altobelli, F., and Heward, A.: Danakil Depression: a multi-sensorial experience, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 September–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-1050,, 2020

Livia Giacomini, Giuseppe Cutispoto, Mauro Gargano, and Anna Wolter

"Observe the Sky and draw your emotions" is an art competition for students organized in Italy by the National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF). Students of primary and secondary schools are invited to participate submitting their original drawings, paintings or 3Dmodels inspired by an astronomical object, by space exploration or just by observing the sky.

The competition was started in 2007 by the Catania Astrophysical Observatory and in the following years it grew in participation, going from local to a national level. In 2020 it was transformed in a digital initiative, thanks to the collaboration of the Capodimonte Astronomical Observatory of Naples and of EduINAF, INAF's new Online Magazine dedicated to Public Engagment. For the first time, the competition was organized and hosted by an online portal and opened for participants across the all country, reaching over 330 drawings, paintings and 3D models submitted.

In this video presentation we will highlight the 12 winners of the last edition and a selection of the most beautiful and original entries of the 2020 and previous editions, showing how the sky can inspire the youngest and give birth to a form of artistic expression.

How to cite: Giacomini, L., Cutispoto, G., Gargano, M., and Wolter, A.: Observe the Sky and draw your emotions, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 September–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-915,, 2020

George Cann


A novel application of the transfer of style via deep convolutional neural networks (CNN) is presented, utilising an ensemble of paintings, by Vincent van Gogh to stylise Martian landscape imagery. Neural style transfer (NST)[1][2] can be used to create artistic work through rendering a content image in the form of a style image. Through applying NST to Martian landscape imagery, a collection of artwork is presented that emulates what van Gogh may have painted had the artist visited Mars.


Since the dawn of humanity celestial phenomena have inspired art, science and exploration. Throughout history these celestial phenomena have been viewed beneath the terrestrial sky. In the 21st century, through technological advances in spacecraft reusability and artificial intelligence, new celestial phenomena may be viewed by astronauts beneath extra-terrestrial skies for the first time.[3]

The Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) is widely regarded as one of the most influential artists in Western art. Many of van Gogh’s most famous artwork includes celestial objects, such as in stars in The Starry Night (1889)[4] and The Starry Night over the Rhône (1888)[5] and the Moon in Landscape with Wheat Sheaves and Rising Moon, (1889)[6]. Here a collection of work highlighting the achievements of the planetary science community in exploring the Martian environment is presented. This collection imagines what Vincent van Gogh would have painted had the artist have visited the Red Planet.


NST was developed by[1] and can be used to create novel artistic work by rendering one image in the style of another. NST uses a previously trained CNN called the VGG-19 network; a 19 layer neural network that has been trained on a large dataset of ImageNet[7] images. Training on this large dataset of images allows the VGG-19 neural network to recognise low and high-level features in images. 

A key aspect of NST involves defining and minimising the content and style cost functions. Once these functions are defined, they are added together to create a total cost function. Using the Adam[8] optimisation algorithm, the aforementioned total cost function, which makes the generated image follow the content of the content image and the style of the style image simultaneously, which after several iterations creates stylised images. For further details the author refers the reader to the literature[1][2].

In this research 30 paintings by Vincent van Gogh were identified that included the Sun, Moon and stars, these artworks contribute to the collection of style images used with NST. Similarly, 30 famous images of Martian landscape imagery were selected, including images from NASA’s Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity Rovers and Viking 1/2 landers, these artworks contribute to the collection of content images used with NST. The author found that creating a montage of a particular feature, i.e. the sky or cobbled streets, followed by applying NST from [2] with a linear colour transfer provided aesthetically better results than utilising semantic style transfer with guided gram matrices and masks.



Figure 1: (Left) The content image of a Martian eclipse, Phobos transits the Sun at sunset, NASA, 2010 [10]. (Right) The result: A Martian eclipse, Phobos transits the Sun at sunset, captures the beauty of nature in the solar system, showing a blue sunset eclipse of the Sun by the Martian moon Phobos. This work has been rendered in the style of Vincent van Gogh’s, 1888, The Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum, Arles, at Night.[9]


This research has described a novel application of NST[1][ to Martian landscape imagery, through presenting a collection of Martian van Gogh artworks, showing that deep convolutional neural networks, offer a new way of visualising the Martian environment.


The author would like to thank the UK Space Agency for their support through the Aurora Science Studentship, STFC:535385. This work is freely available to download from Oxia Palus at:

Compute Environment

Instance: GCP Compute Engine. Image: c3-deeplearning-tf-1-14-cu100-20190724. Hardware: NVIDIA 16GB V100, 8CPU GCP Deep Learning VM with CUDA enabled. Software Tools: Tensorflow 1.14, CUDA-10.0, scipy, numpy, matplotlib, PIL. Training Protocols: Style transfer run for 10000 iterations, with an RGB style image. Content cost coefficient alpha=10 and style cost coefficient beta=40. For the style layers conv1_1=0.2, conv2_1=0.2, conv3_1=0.2, conv4_1=0.2 and conv5_1=0.2. Layer conv4_2=1, used as the content layer. Adam optimizer utilized with learning rate 1.0. Colour channels=3. Noise image ratio=0.6.


How to cite: Cann, G.: Transfer of style from an ensemble of van Gogh paintings to Martian landscape imagery via deep convolutional neural networks, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 September–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-904,, 2020

Priscila Doran and José Saraiva

Communities worldwide are facing challenges related to global environmental problems that impact our planets' Hydrosphere, Atmosphere and Biosphere such as climate change, ocean pollution, loss of biodiversity, among others. Bringing awareness about such problems and their solutions can be a powerful way of promoting community development and reducing the environmental, social and economic impact of such problems at a local level.

Islands Diversity for Science Education (IDiverSE) was an educative project (co-funded by the Erasmus+ program) that aimed at promoting collaboration between students (K-12) from different countries (with special focus on islands) in the creation of solutions to local and global problems. It involved students from Portugal, Spain and Greece.

The project led the students through the four phases of the Design Thinking method where they Felt the problem and how their communities related toward it, Imagined solutions and possible ways of implementing them in their community, Created ways of implementing such solutions and increasing awareness in their community and Shared their creations and their solutions with the community. The key in the whole process was the involvement of the community and the focus on community awareness and development.

IDiverSE students focused on the following problems: endangered pollinator species, namely bees; plastic pollution in the ocean and beaches; UV radiation and its implications for human physical and psychological health. Related to these, several outputs where created and shared with the communities. Students appeared on local TV channels, sharing their work and findings with the community; one class presented their work in the form of art pieces made with the plastics they collected from the beach and created an exhibit in a public gallery; one class from a primary school went to share solutions with the city hall related to the pollution around the school and noticed a major decrease in the pollution afterwards; several classes from one school joined efforts in creating a science trail around the school, to share different local problems and their solutions with their community, etc.

In conclusion, it was evident that the project brought a relevant increase in the awareness of the students, which reported to have changed their perception and behaviour towards the problems in study. These students have worked hard to bring awareness about these problems to their community and to be part of the solution. Earth is our home and IDiverSE brought students a sense of responsibility to take care of their home.

How to cite: Doran, P. and Saraiva, J.: Design Thinking for Education, community development and a better Earth, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 September–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-1061,, 2020

Raphael Peralta and Vincent Minier
The European Exoplanets-A project is aimed at providing a comprehensive view of the nature of exoplanet atmospheres, through an interdisciplinary approach, which includes the integration of state of the art models of the star-planet interaction, atmospheric chemistry and dynamics and planet formation.
The Exoplanets-A has a knowledge server: It provides scientific and educational resources through two main pages: a Science page and a Learning page.
The science page includes a knowledge base with a direct access to all the scientific products of the project (Archival data, methods and tools, databases and publications).
The Learning page was designed for the public with educational resources based on the science products: Data visualization (exoplanetary system, space instruments, set of data…), online courses (MOOC and SPOC) and serious games (applications in augmented reality).
During this talk, we would like to present the MOOC on exoplanets that we have developed as well as other outreach resources, such as an augmented reality (AR) application about exoplanets, JWST and the solar system.

How to cite: Peralta, R. and Minier, V.: Design of a MOOC and augmented reality applications about exoplanets, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 September–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-709,, 2020

Rutu Parekh, Maarten Roos, and Anita Heward


   With an aim to inspire young scientists, the idea of motivational journeys came into the picture. There are plenty of online materials available in the form of books, podcasts, animations and videos. However, these materials can lack the field specific knowledge and thus young scientists find it more difficult to relate to. In the ‘Motivational Journeys’ series we have share the struggles and advice of experienced scientists who are currently working in planetary science with the aim of inspiring early career researchers in our field.   

Project and philosophy

The idea for the ‘Motivational Journeys’ series came from a personal experience. Being an international student, working towards a PhD project in a different country away from my comfort zone has affected my self-confidence and ability to focus. Under such challenging conditions, I either chose to read a book on my favourite subject or try to watch short movies or series based on autobiographies to look for inspiration. After following this approach for some time, I realised rather than looking for the motivation outside, why not get it within my own professional field?  With this thought, I started to plan the project and further discussed with my colleagues and peers too who positively supported the idea.

We planned a short series of interviews in which experienced scientist could share their stories of how they overcame the more difficult hurdles during their early career span. They told us how, with their passion for science and dedication and ‘never give up’ attitude, they conquered the difficulties and pushed forward their professional career. In this series, we aimed to have a dialogue and discussion on various aspects of struggles. All the scientist we interviewed came from a diverse range of backgrounds and cultures. However, the passion and struggles described by the interviewees to achieve their dreams connects each Motivational Journey to the others in the series.

Today, when so many early career professionals face issues related to mental health and self-esteemed, we hope that this series of interviews may help to them to find out how others have approached related struggles and to motivate them in to overcome difficulties.

We successfully recorded 8 interviews during the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 in Geneva. Our first interview was launched in October 2019 and since then we released one interview per month up to May 2020. Our all the interviews can found here:


  Our huge thanks to Maarten Roos (Lightcurve Films- for the production and editing of the interviews. This project was initiated by Europlanet EPEC diversity working group. We are deeply thankful to Anita Heward, Helen Usher, Sarah Roberts who helped to release the interviews as per schedule on the Europlanet webpage and other social media accounts. We also would like to extend our gratitude to entire EPEC committee, Europlanet Diversity committee and Europlanet Society for helping in compiling the list of interviewees and providing necessary logistical support. Last but not the least, our special thanks to all the participating interviewees for generously agreed to provide time from their busy schedules to share their journeys with us in such open and engaging conversations.

How to cite: Parekh, R., Roos, M., and Heward, A.: Narrating stories of struggle, motivation and passion, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 September–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-1046,, 2020

Livia Giacomini, Francesco Aloisi, Ilaria De Angelis, and Stefano Capretti

Planets in a room (PIAR) is a DIY kit to build a small, lowcost spherical planet simulator and planetarium projector. Teachers, science communicators that run a small museum or planetarium, planetary scientists, amateur astronomers and other individuals can easily build it and use it on their own, to show and teach the Earth and other planets and to develop and share material with a growing online community. Having started in 2017 with a first version made using 3d-printed technology, PIAR has lately gone green, with a new wooden, plastic-free version of the kit. (

The project has been developed by the italian non-profit association Speak Science, with the collaboration of the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) and the Roma Tre University, Dipartimento di Matematica e Fisica.

It was funded by the Europlanet Outreach Funding Scheme in 2017 and was presented to the scientific community at EPSC and other scientific Congresses in the following years. Today, it is being distributed to an increasing number of schools, science museum and research institutions. PIAR is also one of the projects selected by the Europlanet Society for education and public outreach of planetary science: in 2020, it is being distributed to the 12 Europlanet Regional Hubs all around Europe, to be used in a number of educational projects.

In this talk we will review the state of the art of the project presenting a selection of educational material and projects that have been developed for PIAR by scientists, teachers and communicators and that are focused on planetary science and on planetary habitability.



We acknowledge for this project the vast community of amateur and professionals that is actively working on innovative educational systems for astronomy such as planetarium and virtual reality projects (both hardware and software). Planets in a room is based on the work of this vast community of people and their experiences and results. We also acknowledge Europlanet for funding this work: the project Europlanet 2024 RI has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 871149.”



Giacomini L., Aloisi F., De Angelis I., “Planets in a room”, EPSC Abstracts Vol. 11, EPSC2017-280, 2017

Giacomini L., Aloisi F., De Angelis I., Capretti S., “Planets in a Room: a DIY, low-cost educational kit”, EPSC Abstracts Vol. 12, EPSC2018-254, 2018

Giacomini L., Aloisi F., De Angelis I., Capretti S., “Planets on (low-cost) balloons”, EPSC AbstractsVol. 13, EPSC-DPS2019-1243-1, 2019

Giacomini L., Aloisi F., De Angelis I., Capretti S, “(Green) Planets in a Room”, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-22153,, 2020

How to cite: Giacomini, L., Aloisi, F., De Angelis, I., and Capretti, S.: Planets in a Room: an educational tool for Europlanet, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 September–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-916,, 2020

Steve Miller and Sheila Kanani

This year sees the Royal Astronomical Society – the oldest learned society covering astronomy and geophysics in the world – celebrate its 200th anniversary. In the run up to 2020, the RAS initiated an outreach and engagement scheme aimed at bringing the society’s sciences to new audiences, those who might not normally attend public lectures, planetarium shows or even star-gazing evenings. Committing £1 million to the project, the RAS deliberately sought out new partners who would take it out of its comfort zone with a bottom-up funding scheme making up to £100k available for five-year projects. Competition for the funding was fierce with just 12 projects funded out of more than 150 applications.


Starting in 2015, the Prince’s Trust has used astronomy to inspire young people who have had some of the hardest starts in life. Carers who hardly ever get a break from their duties are funded to spend weekends learning about the stars on the Scottish island of Coll. A new planetarium show using Holst’s classic “Planet Suite” and modern adaptations brings the heavens in Full-dome 360 animation to audiences via mobile planetaria. New courses for adults who missed out on their education first time round have been developed. And Welsh cultural festivals now resonate to poetry, dance and music inspired by astronomy.


Starting two years later, geophysics is being used to engage football crowds with science, and prisoners are being helped maintain links with their families through astronomy. In Cornwall, Galway and South Africa, artworks, trails and exhibitions are taking astronomy out to local people. And young girls and women in the Girl Guides have new badges to work for. All of these projects, too, are being adapted to suit people on the autistic spectrum.  All projects are being evaluated and all publicised as widely as possible.


How to cite: Miller, S. and Kanani, S.: RAS200: bringing astronomy and geophysics to new audiences, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 September–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-384,, 2020

Konstantina Moutsouroufi, Styliani Tsilia, Alexis Papadopoulos, Maria Stratigou-Psarra, Eleni Michalopoulou, Ioannis Kontogiannis, Kostas Dialynas, Dimitris Petakos, Marilena Andrikopoulou, Konstantinos Poulis, Fiori Anastasia Metallinou, and Ioannis Daglis

Science Communication is a practice that is increasingly gaining ground among the STEM sciences as a practice that needs to be approached with the same scientific and robust methods as the sciences it aims to communicate. It has the potential to reach a wide variety of large audiences and increase the visibility and apprehension of Astronomy and Planetary science. The 20th century has regrettably witnessed the rise of pseudo-scientific practices and a lack of confidence in science, scientists, and scientific practices. It is therefore now, more important than ever, to diffuse and separate science from un-scientific practices and inform the non-specialist public in a concise, clear, and most importantly, scientific way. It is equally important, for young researchers, like physics students, to develop the ability to evaluate the quality of the overwhelming volume of scientific information in order for them to distill and communicate that, but also communicate their own work and research in an approachable way.  

To achieve this, the SpaceGates Team, an outreach team consisting of Physics Students with interest in Astronomy, Astrophysics and Space, decided to launch an ambitious initiative; the SpaceGates Academy. The Academy invited experts in different subjects with the aim to provide training on science communication to early career researchers (ECR) from undergraduate to PhD level. This training aimed to fill a gap in the core and optional academic curriculum that so far does not provide a course dedicated to the communication of science. The objective of the training was the development of communication skills of the participants with emphasis on Astronomy, Astrophysics and Space, and their application in a safe and scientifically robust environment. The Academy was delivered in the form of weekly, two-hour seminars organized by the SpaceGates team under the auspices of the Department of Astrophysics, Astronomy and Mechanics of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. This reflects the department's commitment to provide training for science communication. 

Highly experienced outreach professionals, educators and science communicators voluntarily shared their experience and expertise with the learners participating over a period of 15weeks. The topics covered were: creative writing, storytelling, public speaking, science performance, science communication, scientific research writing and communicating it with the public, communicating planetary science through music, teaching Astronomy using digital tools, STEM education, organizing outreach activities etc. The learners had to deliver a written or verbal project, design and co-develop a team outreach activity. They  also participated in team building activities at the beginning of each session and were asked to fill google-forms evaluation questionnaires for every session. From the planned 17 sessions, 13 were delivered in person, 2 were delivered virtually and the last 2, affected by COVID-19 were cancelled. As the post pandemic phase is now developing, we are currently exploring ways to organize virtual team outreach activities and maybe some social distance safe ones, to facilitate the conclusion of the Academy, as per its original plan. 

SpaceGates Academy is a much needed, ambitious educational program that introduced the science of communication to the Greek ECR that participated in the program. This endeavor will be repeated next year and it is hoped that it will evolve in an established practice that covers both the needs of the learners but also the needs of the core and optional academic curriculum.  

the Academy logo was printed on the coton book bags shared to the learners

How to cite: Moutsouroufi, K., Tsilia, S., Papadopoulos, A., Stratigou-Psarra, M., Michalopoulou, E., Kontogiannis, I., Dialynas, K., Petakos, D., Andrikopoulou, M., Poulis, K., Metallinou, F. A., and Daglis, I.: SpaceGates Academy: Teaching science communication and outreach of Astronomy, Planetary and Space Science to Physics Students. , Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 September–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-829,, 2020