Europlanet Science Congress 2021
Virtual meeting
13 – 24 September 2021
Europlanet Science Congress 2021
Virtual meeting
13 September – 24 September 2021
Open planetary science for effective knowledge co-creation and dissemination


Open planetary science for effective knowledge co-creation and dissemination
Convener: Anastasia Kokori | Co-conveners: Angelos Tsiaras, Julie Nekola Novakova, Caterina Boccato, Andrea Brunello, Peter Fuchs, Henrik Hargitai, Attila Jeremias Kiraly
Mon, 20 Sep, 15:10–15:55 (CEST)

Session assets

Discussion on Slack

Oral and Poster presentations and abstracts

Chairpersons: Anastasia Kokori, Caterina Boccato, Angelos Tsiaras
open and participatory science
Nicolas Manaud, Chase Million, Angelo Pio Rossi, Jérôme Gasperi, Michael Aye, Matt Brealey, Mario D'Amore, Alessandro Frigeri, Trent Hare, Emily Lakdawalla, Emily Law, Andrea Nass, and Mark Wieczorek

Introduction: OpenPlanetary, or simply "OP", is an international non-profit organisation that promotes open research in the planetary science and exploration communities: sharing ideas and collaborating on planetary research and data analysis problems, new challenges, and opportunities [1].

OpenPlanetary started in 2015 as a way for participants of the ESA’s Planetary GIS Workshop to stay connected and exchange information related to and beyond this workshop. It expanded further by playing a similar role for the second USGS-hosted Planetary Data Workshop (PDW) in 2017. OpenPlanetary has continued to support the biannual PDW and provides a more persistent forum for participants to highlight presented topics and discussions from the workshops.

In 2018, we established OpenPlanetary as a non-profit organisation (Association under 1901 French Law, [2]) in order to provide us with a legal framework to sustainably fund our community framework, projects and activities, and to better serve the planetary science community as a whole. OpenPlanetary is governed by a Board of Directors, elected for two years, which (1) define the policy and general orientation, (2) initiate, endorse, lead, or contribute to the projects and activities, and (3) can make use of the funds of the Association for any endorsed project or activity; the Bureau contains a 3-person subset of the Board members (a president, treasurer, and secretary) and serves as the executive body of the Association.

Mission: Our mission is to promote and facilitate the open practice of planetary science and data analysis for professionals and amateurs. We do so by organizing events and conducting collaborative projects aimed at creating scientific, technical and educational resources, tools and data accessible to all.

Members and Membership: With currently 300+ members across the world, OpenPlanetary membership is free and open to research and education professionals: scientists, engineers, designers, teachers and students, space enthusiasts and citizen scientists [3]. Although the early membership had a strong representation in planetary surface and mapping sciences, OpenPlanetary has expanded and is intended to serve as an “umbrella” for all communities of planetary data and tool users, producers or providers across scientific disciplines, space missions or working groups.

Collaboration Platform: Our collaboration platform mainly consists of fully-featured Slack and Github instances. OP members use OP Slack workspace to stay connected and have real-time discussions with other members [4], and are entitled to request admin rights to host and manage open source projects on OP Github organization [5].

Online Forum: We provide a public online OP Forum for research professionals and amateurs across all planetary science disciplines and communities to find help, share and discuss data, tools and resources [6]. While OP Slack is considered for the more informal discussions, the OP Forum is intended to post Q/A and discussion ”gems'' from OP Slack, or any resources that would help a broader community (eg: a short tip, a handy how-to guide or a list of curated resources), and that would benefit from having a permanent web-presence and being discoverable by search engines.

Data Cafés: Since 2017, we have organised Data Cafés at scientific conferences for people to meet, share, discuss and solve common challenges and issues related to planetary data handling and analysis. These events follow an "unconference" format allowing and encouraging anyone to propose a topic and lead a group activity (eg: demo, tutorial, hack), or simply to ask for help [7].

Online Events: Unable to continue with the in-person Data Cafés in 2020, we started hosting virtual online events: (1) OPvCon in June 2020 was our first free virtual conference, scheduled in place of the cancelled Planetary Science Informatics and Data Analytics Conference (PSIDA). It consisted of lecture-length talks from invited speakers, networking opportunities, workshops and tutorials, and a hackathon [8], and (2) since March 2020, we have hosted weekly OP Lunch Talks to present and discuss technical topics of interest to the planetary science community [9]. Most of these events are recorded and made publicly available on YouTube. They now represent a substantial collection of high-quality informational resources and training videos on diverse topics related to planetary science [10].

Community Projects: Our flagship project is OpenPlanetaryMap (OPM), an open planetary mapping and social platform and effort to foster planetary mapping and cartography on the web for all [11]. We also support PlanetaryPy, a community effort to develop a core package for planetary science in Python and foster interoperability between Python planetary science packages [12]. A number of other projects not strictly homed under the OP umbrella have arisen from collaborations fostered in OP Slack or during OP Lunch discussion sessions.

Outlook: We held our first yearly OpenPlanetary General Assembly in December 2020 [13], during which a new Board of Directors was elected. Our main focus within the next couple of years is on (1) consolidating and expanding OP Lunch and other virtual activities, (2) increasing the usage and impact of the OP Forum for all communities (eg: Planetary Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDI) communities), and (3) identifying sustainable funding opportunities.


References: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6] [7], [8], [9], [10], [11], [12], [13]


How to cite: Manaud, N., Million, C., Pio Rossi, A., Gasperi, J., Aye, M., Brealey, M., D'Amore, M., Frigeri, A., Hare, T., Lakdawalla, E., Law, E., Nass, A., and Wieczorek, M.: OpenPlanetary, an “umbrella” non-profit organisation for open planetary science communities, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-335,, 2021.

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 to study a large number of exoplanets to better understand their nature. ExoClock aims to monitor the Ariel targets and provide transit timings to increase the mission efficiency. 
In the project we use all currently available data (literature observations, observations conducted for other purposes, both from ground and space) to make the best use of resources. ExoClock is open to contributions from a variety of audiences — professional, amateur and industry partners — and it aims to continuous monitor the Ariel targets with a verified list of ephemerides. Apart from its role to support Ariel, ExoClock acts as a service by providing the verified ephemerides for further use by the wide exoplanet community. In this presentation the nature, updates and the current status of the ExoClock project will be described in detail. Moreover, the first results will be presented briefly and finally, strategies and lessons learned from the operation of the project so far will be shared with the community.

How to cite: Kokori, A.: The ExoClock Project: an open integrated and interactive platform to continuous monitor the targets of the Ariel space mission, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-636,, 2021.

Staci Tiedeken, Andrea Jones, Molly Wasser, Caela Barry, Nikki Whelley, Sanlyn Buxner, Maya Bakerman, Emily Joseph, Andy Shaner, Julie Fooshee, Brian Day, Pamela Gay, and Vivian White

Introduction: International Observe the Moon Night is a worldwide public engagement program that has been held annually since 2010. Every autumn, we ask people to observe the Moon in whatever way makes sense to them (via binoculars, telescopes, unaided eye, images, artwork, songs, stories, etc.). The event occurs when the Moon is in or near a first-quarter phase, which provides excellent viewing opportunities along the terminator (the line between night and day), as long shadows place lunar features into great relief.

Hundreds of thousands of individuals all around the globe participate in the event as a collective whole, learning about lunar science and exploration, taking part in celestial observations, and honoring cultural and personal connections to the Moon. People participate in a variety of ways, including hosting or attending virtual or in-person events and observing the Moon from home. Participants also have the opportunity to connect with other lunar observers around the world through our Facebook page (, our Flickr group for images (, and through the hashtag #ObserveTheMoon across social media platforms.

Getting Involved: Everyone has the opportunity to be a part of this NASA program. It is incredibly easy to participate in International Observe the Moon Night – no high-tech or expensive equipment is required. Despite the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, International Observe the Moon Night 2020 still experienced strong successes, and we are now supporting virtual events more than ever before. We have also developed numerous digital resources to support hosts and individual observers alike, all of which can be found on our website,

Figure 1: International Observe the Moon Night 2020 participants at the South Pole, Antarctica (a first for the program!). Image credit: Zach Tejral,

Registration. There are multiple entryways into participating in International Observe the Moon Night. Our website contains a page dedicated to registration, where people are able to search for events that are already planned (both in-person and virtual), register their own events, or sign up as individual lunar observers. Events can be scheduled anytime in the two-week period surrounding the main International Observe the Moon Night date in order to better accommodate event hosts and participants.

Bringing Science to Local Communities. International Observe the Moon Night provides the opportunity to unite in learning about and observing the Moon and the wonders of lunar and planetary exploration. It is also a great way for scientists to share lunar science with their communities and to connect with community partners. Collaborating at the community level encourages a more diverse and inclusive environment for participants.

Figure 2: An International Observe the Moon Night 2020 event in Santos, Brazil. Image credit: Roberto Strauss (Astronomia na Rua Santos),

The present time is an especially exciting one for lunar science and exploration. With the first Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) instruments planned for launch at the end of this year, International Observe the Moon Night offers a great opportunity to discuss these missions and the future of lunar exploration. NASA’s Artemis program also continues to move forward and will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon within the coming years.

2021 Event: Join us for the next International Observe the Moon Night on Saturday, October 16, 2021.

NASA TV Broadcast. In 2020, circumstances of the pandemic directed us to incorporate more virtual event opportunities, resulting in our first NASA TV broadcast. In 2021, we will again produce this aspect of the program, providing people around the world the ability to celebrate the event with us across multiple NASA centers. The broadcast will likely feature science talks, hands-on activity demonstrations, and live Q&A via social media.


Figure 3: A virtual International Observe the Moon Night 2020 event in Indonesia. Image credit: School Science Center, Sekolah Pembangunan Jaya,

Worldwide Moon Party. Join us on Saturday, October 9 to kick off the International Observe the Moon Night week of observing with a worldwide Moon party. There will be live streams of the Moon and lunar stories from cultures around the world, among other features. To participate and to learn more, please visit:

International Observe the Moon Night is still growing, and we welcome new collaborators, participants, and ideas for engagement. Additional information about the event can be found at

International Observe the Moon Night is sponsored by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission and the Solar System Exploration Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, with many contributing partners.

How to cite: Tiedeken, S., Jones, A., Wasser, M., Barry, C., Whelley, N., Buxner, S., Bakerman, M., Joseph, E., Shaner, A., Fooshee, J., Day, B., Gay, P., and White, V.: A Worldwide Celebration: International Observe the Moon Night, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-75,, 2021.

outreach and communication approaches
Anita Heward and Jen DeWitt

Evaluation can provide essential information in understanding the effectiveness and accessibility of outreach activities in engaging diverse communities.

In this presentation, we will give an overview of the Europlanet Evaluation Toolkit, a resource that aims to empower outreach providers and educators in measuring and appraising the impact of their activities. The toolkit is intended to provide advice and resources that can be simply and easily integrated into normal outreach and education activities. It is available as an interactive online resource at, as a downloadable PDF and as a hard copy (including a book and set of activity cards).

The toolkit has been developed over a number of years with content provided by professional outreach evaluators Karen Bultitude and Jennifer DeWitt (UCL, UK). Initially, a series of focus groups and scoping discussions were held with active outreach providers from the planetary science community in order to determine what they wanted from such a toolkit, and what sort of tools would be of most interest. A shortlist of tools was developed based on these discussions, with volunteers testing out the tool instructions once they were drafted.

The toolkit begins with a brief introduction to evaluation and steps to choosing the right tools. This advice takes the form of a series of questions to help design an evaluation approach and make the most efficient and effective use possible of limited time and resources.

The toolkit offers a choice of 14 data collection tools that can be selected according to the audience (e.g. primary, secondary, interested adult, general public), the type of environment and activity (e.g. drop-in, interactive workshop, ongoing series, lecture/presentation or online) or according to when they might best be used (during, beginning/end, or after an event). The online version of the toolkit includes a set of interactive tables to help with the selection of which tool is most appropriate for any given situation.

The toolkit includes descriptions and worked examples of how to use two techniques (word-clouds and thematic coding) to analyse the data, as well as some top tips for evaluation and recommended resources.

For some of the tools, case study examples include information about how the tools have been used in the context of an event, how data was actually collected and analysed and what conclusions were reached, based on the data gathered.

Over the past year, videos and training resources for using the toolkit have been added, as well as virtual alternatives to the physical tools.

The Europlanet Evaluation Toolkit has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 871149 (Europlanet 2024 RI) and 654208 (Europlanet 2020 RI).

How to cite: Heward, A. and DeWitt, J.: The Europlanet Evaluation Toolkit, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-275,, 2021.

Katherine Shirley, Helena Cotterill, Tristram Warren, Helena Bates, Robert Spry, Sian Tedaldi, and Neil Bowles

Introduction: During the series of national lockdowns, interacting onsite with local schools became difficult and increased the demand for virtual content. To meet this challenge, we created an online programme entitled “Destination: Space”, aimed at showcasing the current planetary research conducted within the Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Planetary Physics (AOPP) department at the University of Oxford. Over six weeks, school students from the UK and around the globe joined us on an out-of-this-world journey exploring space and planetary physics. Destination: Space has introduced students to fascinating areas of science, including the search for water on the Moon, meteorites and sample return missions, and whether there really could be other life out there in the universe. 

Talks were hosted online in a live webinar-style, where the audience could interact with and ask questions of the scientists involved in each event. The series consisted of four short seminars, one game show style event, and one purely question and answer panel session. The seminar sessions consisted of a short talk delivered by AOPP scientists focused on their research with time for audience questions. The game show event was loosely based on the “Would I lie to you?” BBC hit television show and had the scientists presenting short statements and inviting the audience to determine whether it was fact or fiction. This format encouraged audience participation and debate through the webinar chat feature. Due to the large number of questions we were unable to get to during the seminar sessions, a Q&A panel was added to the series. 

Reception: The Destination: Space programme was advertised well in advance of its commencement through the Oxford Physics Outreach department mailing lists connected to local schools, and through social media accounts. Over 750 local and international audience members attended the series with an additional 1000+ viewers watching the recorded versions on YouTube as of this time. 

Project Assessment: For the seminar sessions, polls were used to assess the audience’s knowledge before and after the talk, with the majority self-reporting an increase in understanding of the topic and overall positive comments from the audience, including several emails from teachers supporting the project. The game show session incorporated polls throughout to encourage an interactive event, and showed the audience actively debating in the chat and reaching the right answer 85% of the time. Responses to this event were overwhelmingly positive and many cited the interactivity as enhancing their experience. Overall polling showed support for the programme and calls for similar series covering other space topics. We will look to create another series for the upcoming school year, and to create more activities for teachers to use in conjunction with the programme. 


The recorded programme can be found here:

How to cite: Shirley, K., Cotterill, H., Warren, T., Bates, H., Spry, R., Tedaldi, S., and Bowles, N.: Destination: Space! A Virtual Flash Talk Series, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-619,, 2021.

Giulia Mantovani, Claudia Mignone, Federico Di Giacomo, Federica Duras, Livia Giacomini, Sandro Bardelli, and Gianluigi Filippelli

During the last year, the outreach community had to rearrange the way of communicating science and resort to new tools for education in schools. In particular, the impossibility of organizing public events has encouraged the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) to find an alternative way to engage remotely with the general public and students. The team of EduINAF, the official INAF online magazine for education and public outreach, has developed a new format for live streaming events, titled “The sky in your living room” (“Il cielo in salotto”), to be organised around specific astronomy events such as eclipses, comets, different Moon phases, etc. The format has been designed to be centred around a live stream of telescope observations, which takes advantage of INAF’s network of observatories spread all over the Italian peninsula. The images of those telescopes are commented live by the INAF researchers, presenting the latest scientific results about the topic selected for each specific event. The team running these events has researched several options to find the best and simplest technical tools for live streaming by using only a computer and an internet connection. 

In this talk, we will present the first live event of the format, organized for the Super Moon of the 26th of May, with a focus on both its educational and outreach contents and possible fallouts, and on the technical and communicative solutions chosen for the streaming, including lessons learnt that could be of interest to colleagues organising similar events in other countries.

How to cite: Mantovani, G., Mignone, C., Di Giacomo, F., Duras, F., Giacomini, L., Bardelli, S., and Filippelli, G.: “The sky in your living room”: a streaming format for live astronomy events, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-179,, 2021.

Julie Nekola Novakova

How can we bring matters such as planetary formation, habitability and means for search for life in the universe closer to the general public in an enthusing way and increase science understanding, interest in STEM and critical thinking? Popular culture, especially science fiction (a 'genre of ideas' that often relies heavily on science), can introduce these matters to the public in an accessible and entertaining manner. Its use in science outreach and education is relatively well-established, and it has been found that the use of narrative and invoking emotion can help people remember more information and take more interest in it. The interdisciplinary character of science fiction can relatively easily reflect multiple fields in science and help underline their meaning and connect their findings for the general public [1-3].

In spring 2020, I edited Strangest of All [4], an anthology of astrobiological science fiction stories, where each was accompanied by an essay on the science in the story. At the European Astrobiology Institute (EAI), we made it freely available as an e-book as to assist outreach and education during widespread pandemic-caused school closures and lack of in-person outreach events. The book was downloaded several thousand times and was used in an astrobiology seminar at the Faculty of Science, Charles University. We are following up on this project with Life Beyond Us, a print anthology of 28 astrobiological SF stories written specifically for the book and essays authored by EAI scientists. Among its SF authors are many with a background in STEM, such as Gregory Benford (astrophysicist), Tessa Fisher (astrobiologist), Geoffrey A. Landis (engineer at NASA), Julie E. Czerneda (biologist), Peter Watts (biologist), and more. Their involvement leads to inclusion of stories that are both entertaining and scientifically interesting. Topics such as the deep hot biosphere, exoplanet detection, planetary protection, bioengineering for space settlements, habitability of Titan and carbon planets, or SETI will be explored in the stories and essays.

The book's goal is to support critical thinking, increase interest in STEM and present the current state and potential future of astrobiology and related fields. Its use in further formal and informal outreach/educational activities and especially EAI events are being planned. Life Beyond Us is currently being edited and will be published in September 2022, to commemorate the launch of ESA's Rosalind Franklin rover meant to search for past and current habitable conditions and traces of life on Mars.


Image: Case-laminated cover for the illustrated edition of Life Beyond Us, adorned with Ernst Haeckel's nature illustrations.


Image: To promote the project and showcase its focus on science, all authors have been interviewed about their writing, how it connects to science, and STEM outreach.



[1] Vrasidas, C., Avraamidou, L., Theodoridou, K., Themistokleous, S., & Panaou, P. Science fiction in education: Case studies from classroom implementations. Educational Media International, 52(3), 201-215 (2015).

[2] Thévenon, M. Using Science Fiction as a Teaching Tool in ESP Classes for Science Students. ILCEA. Revue de l’Institut des langues et cultures d'Europe, Amérique, Afrique, Asie et Australie, (31) (2018).

[3] Jordan, P., & Silva, P. A. Building an argument for the use of Science Fiction in HCI Education. In International Conference on Intelligent Human Systems Integration (pp. 846-851). Springer. (2019).

[4] Nováková, Julie (European Astrobiology Institute). Strangest of All: An Anthology of Astrobiological SF. Available at: (Accessed: June 3, 2021)

How to cite: Nekola Novakova, J.: Science Fiction for Planetary Science & Astrobiology Outreach: Life Beyond Us, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-870,, 2021.

Daniele Gardiol and Claudio Ottavi Fabbrianesi and the Il Piccolo Teatro d'Arte

In the context of a project of narration of astrophysical themes through Cinema and Theater, we will tell the story of the birth of a documentary film on the discovery of the Cavezzo Meteorite, made by the PRISMA fireball network in January 2020. The Italian National Institute for Astrophysics and the theater company Il Piccolo Teatro d'Arte have created a documentary that brings the voices of the protagonists of the discovery together with the mythical, historical and poetic narration of the meteoric phenomenon in a broad sense, with the aim of obtaining an involvement of the audience on both sound science and emotionality. 

How to cite: Gardiol, D. and Ottavi Fabbrianesi, C. and the Il Piccolo Teatro d'Arte: Planetary sciences artfully told, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-374,, 2021.

Alessandra Zanazzi, Laura Daricello, Laura Leonardi, Chiara Di Benedetto, and Maria Luisa Tuscano

This paper is an overview of the cultural project ''Second star to the right”, which is an Astro-tourism project carried out by the Italian Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) and the creative agency Bas Bleu Illustration. An interdisciplinary good practice that aims at connecting art, tourism, history and astronomy thus bringing science closer to the public, targeting different audiences.

Astronomy and astronomical phenomena have always inspired art, music, literature and had an important role in our culture. Many of the major monuments in Italy are impressively connected to Astronomy. Just to mention a few examples: the world-famous Brunelleschi Dome of the Cathedral in Florence hosts the world tallest sundial; the Halley comet painted by Giotto in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua inspired the tradition of a comet star in Nativity scenes from then onwards; the Royal Norman Palace in Palermo holds the telescope used for the discovery of the first asteroid in history.

Walking downtown in the historic cities the project “Second Star to the right” explores the various ways in which astronomy crept into art and culture: the sun, the moon, planets, constellations and minor bodies are often hidden in the masterpieces of art, pictured in the marble inlays of many churches and in byzantine mosaics, painted in ceilings and frescoes. Italian cultural heritage unveils  “astronomical secrets” - clocks, meridian lines, Zodiacs, painted skies and constellations, ancient geographical maps, places connected to scientists such as Galileo Galilei or great explorers such as Amerigo Vespucci, instruments with an ancient charm that undoubtedly reveal the importance that the study of the sky and its movements always had for mankind.

The work of a research institution (INAF) with a creative agency (Bas Bleu Illustration) led to the design and production of a cultural project able to reach a wider public through different products:

  • The astronomical guidebook series “Second star to the right”: it is a series of paper guidebooks that brings citizens and visitors to discover Italian cities “from an astronomical point of view” (Padua, 2015; Florence, 2019; Palermo, presumably September 2021). Each guide is an attractive, simple, and not-specialist book describing the Astronomy content of many major monuments and places connected to past and modern science. They have a nice and appealing graphic look, an easy format, and are full of curiosities and simple explanations, leading the visitors in the search for Science into artistic masterpieces, historical monuments, churches, museums, places that tell us about illustrious scientists and current research. The books help the visitors follow different colored routes, for different themes (e.g. the measuring time; following Galileo or other important astronomers footprints; representing earth and sky; etc.);
  • A map of the city, representing astronomical routes and highlighting the main astronomical places
  • Events such as “walking tours with the astronomer”, family activities, students’ visits, and laboratories, etc.; these events are carried out in collaboration with the relevant institutions (Churches, Museums, etc), creating new important cultural synergies locally and implementing the cultural role of scientific institutions in the cities.
  • A guidebook addressed to children (aged 8-11), with graphic elements and illustrations (“Padova a testa in su”, 2017; other cities under study)

New Technologies and different media and communication languages that we are going to implement to attract different audiences, especially young people: Virtual Reality enhancements, Zap code, serious games such as “treasure hunt”, App deepening.

How to cite: Zanazzi, A., Daricello, L., Leonardi, L., Di Benedetto, C., and Tuscano, M. L.: Attracting public interest in astronomy through art and cultural heritage, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-740,, 2021.

José Utreras and Paul Roche

Communicating our knowledge in astronomy is our duty with society, and this should be done in a format that is appealing and comprehensive. This last part is a difficult task. According to theory, verbal information and pictorial information are processed in different cognitive systems. Graphics that are not related to verbal information, or that do not take into account prior knowledge of individuals may interfere with mental model construction. Creating scientific illustrations for learners needs to tackle three points: (1) accurate scientific knowledge (2) appealing design (3) learner experience.   

Illustrations and infographics have the benefit of simplifying problems, can show us abstract representations, or can tell stories about discoveries, making them a flexible tool to take into account learner experience. That has led Europlanet to develop illustrated material that can be easily shared online or be used in public talks or school activities.

During the last months, we have been creating illustrations for different topics of planetary science: moons, icy objects, and an illustrated guide to Mars. We want to show our work and progress to our peers, get feedback, and hopefully show to the scientific community the benefits of using illustrations and art to communicate with a broader audience. Specifically, we want to present part of the illustrated guide to Mars through our poster, showing that not only we can show information about Mars, we can also tell a bit about the history of the exploration of the red planet.

The style of this material has already been tested successfully on social media platforms. We will translate the infographics into multiple languages starting with English and Spanish.

Here are some of the illustrations that we have created.




How to cite: Utreras, J. and Roche, P.: Infographics and illustrations for planetary science, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-457,, 2021.

educational resources and methods
Tony Thompson

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 over 40 laboratory facilities and 6 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)
  • Andes (Argentina)

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 PFAs could affect the habitability of Mars.

An Italian version of the resources has been produced by EduINAF with the addition of brief video-lessons.  English versions were released on a weekly basis from mid-March through April with opportunities for training sessions to support teachers wishing to engage with these resources.

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.

How to cite: Thompson, T.: Educational Resources for EPN24 Planetary Field Analogue Sites, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-407,, 2021.

Stijn Calders, Hervé Lamy, Michel Anciaux, Karolien Lefever, Katrien Kolenberg, Mieke Sterken, and Anne-Lize Kochuyt

In May 2020, Europlanet Society launched a call to fund projects to engage the public with planetary science. Our project proposal called MOMSTER: MObile Meteor STation for Education & outReach was amongst the three projects that were granted.

MOMSTER aims at developing a Meteor Education Kit as a resource for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) teachers in secondary schools. The kit includes a mobile radio meteor station consisting of a dedicated antenna and radio receiver, as well as an educational package to learn all about meteors and their detection methods, while at the same time conveying a fascination for the ephemeral beauty and complexity of these natural light shows. The project goals are stimulating STEAM (ultimately resulting in nudging future career choices towards science or engineering career paths) and the use of citizen science (especially the Radio Meteor Zoo initiative on the online citizen science platform Zooniverse) at schools, and reaching the general public.

The development of educational resources builds upon preliminary experiences we gained by participating in an Erasmus+ project called BRITEC (Bringing Research into ThE Classroom), in which teachers and pupils participated in the Radio Meteor Zoo activity.  We are presently in a pilot phase where three Belgian schools (two Dutch speaking and one French speaking) test the mobile radio meteor station and the educational resources, and give their feedback.

We are using STEAM-education as an approach to broaden our target group towards less scientifically oriented students. We do this by developing an educational resource on visual (science) communication. We also organized an art & design competition for high school students with more than 30 submissions. The best piece of art will decorate the ‘MOMSTER boxes’ we use for transport of the radio receivers.

How to cite: Calders, S., Lamy, H., Anciaux, M., Lefever, K., Kolenberg, K., Sterken, M., and Kochuyt, A.-L.: MOMSTER, a Europlanet-funded public engagement project, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-253,, 2021.

Catarina Leote, Sérgio Pereira, João Retrê, Pedro Machado, Gabriella Gilli, José Silva, Ruben Gonçalves, Pedro Sarmento, and Alejandro Cardesín

Assembling aliens to explore the Solar System

After analysing the school curricula until 7th grade (13 years old), we concluded that, at least in Portugal, there is a limited coverage of astronomy subjects. This situation is also often accompanied by limited training of primary and medium school teachers and limited availability of resources in their mother tongues, as language can also be a barrier for the use of existing resources. In addition, some astronomy concepts require a level of abstract thinking that might be discouraging for some children. The end result is that some children will have a low interest in astronomy, not only because of their personal preferences but as a consequence of low exposure to the subject or a negative perception towards it. To address this situation, the Science Communication Group of Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço (IA) developed a board game about the Solar System, aimed at children from 6 to 12 years old, and adapted to both formal and informal educational contexts. This project, “Help your Alien – A Solar System Game”, was funded in 2019 by the Europlanet Society through its Public Engagement Funding Scheme.

Why a board game?

By opting for a board game instead of a digital platform, we made the conscious decision of valuing the power of storytelling and social interaction as engaging and focus-promoting learning strategies, unlike the information and stimuli overload sometimes present in digital environments. Another choice made to make the game as appealing and relatable to our target public as possible was to start with a more familiar perspective, biology, as children of this age group will certainly be familiar with “animals” and their characteristics. We made a leap forward towards astrobiology, and created imaginary aliens somehow adapted to their planets and moons. While trying to assemble these imaginary creatures, in a 3-piece puzzle, the game players have to gather information about different objects of the Solar System and discover the home planet of their assembled aliens.  Another reason for creating a board game was the possibility of reaching different publics, in particular those perhaps not immediately interested in astronomy. With “ET – A Solar System Adventure”, we hope to engage children but also their families (parents, grandparents, siblings…), just for the sake of playing, while exposing them to knowledge about the Solar System.

Development of the game

The game was developed in a collaborative creative process by members of the Science Communication Group and researchers in Planetary Sciences of the IA, combining knowledge in science communication and different publics with scientific knowledge. Even though the game mechanics was inspired in already existing and well-tested games, the whole process of creating this game involved many challenges, from defining the level of complexity while keeping the game engaging, to the adventure of “creating” aliens somehow physiologically adapted to different planets and moons of the Solar System. Mistakes were made and the team had to adapt to the unexpected challenging situation of a pandemic. This resulted in many lessons learned that we hope to share with the community. The game is now at its final stages of production, with the prototype being converted into a polished version with professional illustration and design. A “Print and Play” version in Portuguese and English will soon be made available online on our website. Physical copies will also be produced depending on funding.

In our presentation, we will present our game, as well as the premises and goals behind it, its development process, the challenges found along the way, the lessons learned and some strategies to cope with the “new normality” imposed by Covid-19, while advancing the project. We hope the presentation of “ET – A Solar System Adventure” in the EPSC2021 will help to promote this tool for planetary science education among formal and informal educators and to find international collaborations for the translation and local promotion of the game, as well as additional funding for the production of physical copies in different languages.

How to cite: Leote, C., Pereira, S., Retrê, J., Machado, P., Gilli, G., Silva, J., Gonçalves, R., Sarmento, P., and Cardesín, A.: Assembling aliens to explore the Solar System, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-20,, 2021.

Angelos Tsiaras

Exoplanets observations with small and medium scale telescopes are becoming more and more popular among amateur astronomers, students and early career scientists as they do not require extremely sophisticated instrumentation. However, and important barrier between observing and producing scientifically valid results is the data analysis and modelling. To assist observers towards this aspect and make it possible for more people to contribute to scientific research I developed HOPS (HOlomon Photometric Software), a python-based package which includes a user interface and it is compatible with Linux, OS X and Windows. It is open-source ( and it is designed to analyse data from small and medium class telescopes. HOPS is a user-friendly package where graphic representations, statistics and models are brought together into a single package. With these characteristics, HOPS can be used by amateur astronomers individually or as part of citizen science projects or as an educational for university or school students. In this presentation I will describe the newest version of the code (v3.0) and an educational version designed for high school students.

How to cite: Tsiaras, A.: HOPS: a user-friendly data analysis software to open exoplanet reasearch, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-602,, 2021.

The EduINAF revolution: how to transform a pandemic crisis in an outreach opportunity
Livia Giacomini, Caterina Boccato, Gianluigi Filippelli, and Stefano Sandrelli
Laura Leonardi, Laura Daricello, and Livia Giacomini

In this presentation, we will illustrate Augmented Reality (AR) resources developed by INAF (The Italian National Institute of Astrophysics) for communicating astronomy, distributed to schools and the general public by EduINAF, the online magazine devoted to education and outreach, ( The impact of these initiatives and future perspectives will also be provided. AR and other innovative technologies have a very high potential in astronomy communication, outreach and education. By adding texts, images, overlays, sounds and other effects, AR enhances users’ experience, allowing personal and interactive choices and offering unique educational opportunities. Due to its benefits of providing an engaging and immersive learning space, the use of AR in education has been recognized as a powerful instrument for educators and students.  Among the first attempts and experiments with AR, in 2019 we created an augmented reality app - both in Italian and English - dedicated to the Museum of Specola inside the Astronomical Observatory of Palermo, in order to promote the cultural heritage of the institute. Using a simple tool like the app Zappworks Studio Widgets and a smartphone, the public could interact with the history and the instruments held in the museum, choosing between seven different levels of information. In 2020 - on the occasion of “Esperienza InSegna 2020”, a science fair for schools, which every year counts about 15.000 participants - INAF created an interactive game called “Terra Game” using Metaverse Studio. Discovering the “ingredients for life” and the composition, temperature and atmosphere of different planets, students were able to understand how special the Earth is in comparison to the other planets of the Solar System and to exoplanets orbiting around other stars. In 2021, to catch teenage students’ attention, we integrated new technologies in the learning path dedicated by EduINAF to Mars on the occasion of the landing on Mars of NASA’s rover Perseverance. We developed the augmented reality experience “MARS2020 Perseverance” with Zap works Studio Design, showing the objectives of the mission, other rovers landed on Mars and the sophisticated instruments onboard. Using this app people can discover the instruments used by the rover for acquiring information about Martian geology, atmosphere, environmental conditions and potential biosignatures. The app also gives the opportunity to visit NASA resources and take a selfie with the Perseverance and the drone Ingenuity and share the pictures with friends through social media. To mark the event of the Supermoon of 26th May 2021 EduINAF also published educational resources dedicated to the moon. Among these, the augmented reality experience “Maree Lunatiche”, developed with Zap works Studio Design. This app explains the phenomenon of tides. From the menu, there is also the opportunity to interact with a 3D model of the moon and to take a selfie with the full moon. The impact of these and other AR initiatives in EduINAF, as well as their future perspectives, will also be provided in this talk.

How to cite: Leonardi, L., Daricello, L., and Giacomini, L.: Learning astronomy through Augmented Reality: EduINAF resources to enhance students’ motivation and understanding, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-530,, 2021.

Federica Duras, Livia Giacomini, and Giulia Mantovani

INAF Online Lab is the name of the project born within EduINAF (the online magazine of the Italian Institute of Astrophysics) during the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent rearrangement of the outreach and teaching activities normally carried out in person. These online laboratories are an example of how to virtually take by the hand those same young people with whom only a year ago it was possible, and indeed natural, to interact live. From their schools or homes, the students are guided through the activity by an experienced operator, and take on the role of astronomers while building, observing, learning and wondering about the great mysteries of space. The four online laboratories currently active have been optimized to be perfectly usable during science festivals in an interactive way and at practically no cost.

Throughout the presentation, we will describe the project and its possible applications and evolutions, with some examples to be shown to the audience.

How to cite: Duras, F., Giacomini, L., and Mantovani, G.: INAF Online Lab: can hands-on, educational laboratories be online?, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-192,, 2021.

Daniele Gardiol, Carlo Benna, Valentina Vignale, and Fabrizio Radicati di Primeglio

The Piedmontese town of Pino Torinese is one of the twelve italian locations hosting a local department of the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics, the Astronomical Observatory of Turin. This peculiarity led to the development of a close collaboration between researchers, teachers and local community and administration, aiming at the promotion of astronomy, and in particular planetary sciences, among students from kindergartens to secondary schools. The chosen driving approach, experiential learning, is not very common in Italy. 

How to cite: Gardiol, D., Benna, C., Vignale, V., and Radicati di Primeglio, F.: Experiential teaching of planetary sciences from kindergartens to secondary schools: the "Astronomiadi" educational project, Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-558,, 2021.

Thomas Appéré and Alain Ortais
  • Introduction

Many robotic missions are currently exploring the Solar system. They are attractive opportunities to work some parts of the high school curricula. The various aspects of these robotic missions are traditionally studied in STEM classes (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). However, social, cultural as well as linguistic dimensions can be included in broader multidisciplinary projects, such as the one we present here.

The Hayabusa2 Japanese mission was launched in December 2014. It arrived at Ryugu asteroid in June 2018, a small carbonaceous asteroid composed of primitive matter dating back to the Solar system formation. The spacecraft (see figure 1) deployed two robots and the French-German MASCOT lander on the surface of Ryugu, and collected two regolith samples. These samples were brought back to Earth on December 5, 2020.

Figure 1 : Hayabusa2 spacecraft (© JAXA)

My colleague and I respectively teach Japanese and Physics at Saint-Paul high school in Vannes (France), which hosts ~1500 students. This asteroid sample return was a fantastic opportunity to set up a Japanese-Physics multidisciplinary project about the Hayabusa2 mission. Our first objective was to make students curious about space exploration and scientific research. We also wanted to provide students with a cultural openness to a topic usually addressed through the mathematical application of physical laws.

  • In Physics class

"Movement and interactions" topic in the French final year of high school curriculum of Physics is very appropriate to demonstrate how physical laws can be used to illustrate various technical aspects of the mission.

Students worked on three exercises:

- Propulsion of Hayabusa2 spacecraft: the spacecraft uses ions thrusters for propulsion. Xenon ions are accelerated by an electric field and ejected out the back of the engine at high speed. Students computed the work of the electric force between points A and B (see figure 2) in order to obtain the speed of an ion at point B. Using the conservation of momentum, they determined the spacecraft speed. Students eventually computed the maximal operating time of ion engines and compared it to the duration of the Hayabusa2 mission.