Europlanet Science Congress 2021
Virtual meeting
13 – 24 September 2021
Europlanet Science Congress 2021
Virtual meeting
13 September – 24 September 2021

Session programme


TP – Terrestrial Planets

Programme group coordinators: Lena Noack, Anni Määttänen, Maurizio Pajola


Shape, gravity field, orbit, tidal deformation, and rotation state are fundamental geodetic parameters of any planetary object. Measurements of these parameters are prerequisites for e.g. spacecraft navigation and mapping from orbit, but also for modelling of the interior and evolution. This session welcomes contributions from all aspects of planetary geodesy, including the relevant theories, observations and models in application to planets, satellites, ring systems, asteroids, and comets.

Co-organized by OPS/SB
Convener: Alexander Stark | Co-conveners: Hannah Susorney, Anton Ermakov, Marie Yseboodt

The inner regions of planet forming disks surrounding young stars are key to our understanding of the formation of rocky, Earth-like planets and super-Earths. We know from exoplanet surveys that such planets are abundantly present around low mass stars. Rocky planets are essential ingredients in the quest for life outside the solar system. Understanding their properties and formation history is key to our efforts to put the solar system in perspective.

Investigations of the outer regions of the accretion disk provide us with information on the distribution of volatile material and ices in planetary systems, and studies on disk properties, on evolved cold, gaseous or sub-Neptune planets, as well as migration studies of planets leading to various different system architectures (e.g. to hot Jupiters close to their host star) help us to better understand the evolution of our own solar system.

We invite abstracts from different disciplines working on planet formation, including for example observations of planet forming disks, recent or on-going exoplanet surveys, theoretical and computational models, as well as comparative studies using solar system data from exploration missions, meteorite analysis and remote sensing.

Co-organized by TP
Convener: Lena Noack | Co-conveners: Myriam Benisty, Mario Flock, Inga Kamp, Yamila Miguel, Rens Waters

Late accretion onto the terrestrial planets is of critical importance for understanding the early chemical differentiation processes and the evolution of the terrestrial planets in the solar system. This session aims at obtaining an integrated understanding of these processes from a multidisciplinary perspective. The session aims at bringing together geodynamics, (isotope) geo- and cosmochemistry, experimental petrology, and numerical modeling with a particular focus on the Earth, Moon and Mars.

We welcome contributions from any of these disciplines, especially contributions aimed at improving our current understanding of key processes involved in the early evolution of the terrestrial planets including the provenance and composition of late accreted bodies, the role of giant impacts in volatile loss processes and core formation, the formation and evolution of magma oceans, early convection processes in planetary mantles, and the cooling history of terrestrial planets.

Convener: Laetitia Allibert | Co-conveners: Gregor Golabek, Thomas Kruijer, Lena Noack, Sabrina Schwinger, Julien Siebert

Impact processes shaped the Solar System, and modify planetary surfaces and small bodies until today. Impacts also have a technical application for Planetary Defence, exemplified by the joint ESA/NASA Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA) collaboration. This session aims at understanding impact processes at all scales in terms of shock metamorphism, dynamical aspects, geochemical consequences, environmental effects and biotic response, and cratering chronology. Naturally, advancing our understanding of impact phenomena requires a multidisciplinary approach, which includes (but it is not limited to) observations of craters, strewn field or airbursts, numerical modelling, laboratory experiments, geologic and structural mapping, remote sensing, as well as petrographic and geochemical analysis of impact products.

We welcome presentations across this broad range of studies about natural or artificial impact collision phenomena on planetary and small bodies. In particular, we encourage work that bridges the gap between the investigative methods employed in studying planetary impact processes at all scales.

Co-organized by OPS/SB
Convener: Elena Martellato | Co-conveners: Chrysa Avdellidou, Christopher Hamann, Isabel Herreros, Robert Luther, Jens Ormö

Astrobiology is the study of whether present or past life exists elsewhere in the universe. To understand how life can begin in space, it is essential to know what organic compounds were likely available, and how they interacted with the planetary environment. This session seeks papers that offer existing/novel theoretical models or computational works that address the chemical and environmental conditions relevant to astrobiology on terrestrial planets/moons or ocean worlds, along with other theoretical, experimental, and observational works related to the emergence and development of Life in the Universe. This includes work related to prebiotic chemistry, the chemistry of early life, the biogeochemistry of life’s interaction with its environment, chemistry associated with biosignatures and their false positives, and chemistry pertinent to conditions that could possibly harbor life (e.g. Titan, Enceladus, Europa, TRAPPIST-1, habitable exoplanets, etc.). Understanding how the planetary environment has influenced the evolution of life and how biological processes have changed the environment is an essential part of any study of the origin and search for signs of life. Earth analogues experiments/instruments test and/or simulation campaigns and limits of life studies are included as well as one of the main topics of this session. Major Space Agencies identified planetary habitability and the search for evidence of life as a key component of their scientific missions in the next two decades. The development of instrumentation and technology to support the search for complex organic molecules/sings of life/biosignatures and the endurance of life in space environments is critical to define unambiguous approaches to life detection over a broad range of planetary environments.

Co-organized by OPS/EXO
Convener: Felipe Gómez | Co-convener: Pamela Conrad

In the latest years, many spacecraft missions operating in the Solar System are collecting data from the many regions of the heliosphere, sensibly increasing the scientific return of each mission, and providing additional opportunities for synergistic data acquisitions from environments and conditions that are different from each mission’s original baseline science operation plan.
In addition, coordinated observations among different spacecraft is allowing to perform valuable investigations of the heliosphere from different point of view at the same time; thereby addressing many aspects of plasma processes related to the Sun, as well as the interactions of the solar wind and radiation with the planetary environments.
A bright example is the Venus atmosphere and magnetosphere investigations recently performed by BepiColombo, Parker Solar Probe and Solar Orbiter during their flybys around the planet, as well as their coordination with Akatsuki spacecraft orbiting around Venus itself, and with other spacecraft during their cruise measurements and with space and Earth-based telescope observations made jointly.
In this session, we welcome contributions to any kind of planetary and Solar System investigations made by space missions during their cruise and flybys operations. They may include the present flybys to Earth and Venus by BepiColombo, Solar Orbiter and Parker Solar Probe, but also future flybys investigations that will be made by future missions (i.e. JUICE); lessons learnt from past flybys to other planets such as the Rosetta flyby to Mars, the Earth and Venus flybys from Cassini or the legacy of the flybys to the Giant planets made by the Voyager missions.

Co-organized by OPS/MITM
Convener: Valeria Mangano | Co-conveners: Lina Hadid, Kandis Lea Jessup, Yeon Joo Lee, Beatriz Sanchez-Cano, Yannis Zouganelis

The surfaces of air-less celestial bodies are directly exposed to the environmental radiation, ions, and micrometeoroids. The result of these interactions is an alteration of the surface structure and chemical composition, generally referred to as space weathering. At the same time, these interactions release surface material that refills the surface-bounded exosphere and, directly or indirectly, is a source of planetary ions in the environment. The study of the planetary response to variable external conditions is the broad meaning of planetary space weather.
Over the next decade, the BepiColombo mission to Mercury and JUICE mission to Jupiter’s system, together with the Moon space exploration program, will offer unprecedented opportunities to investigate the interaction processes at airless bodies.
In the present session, we welcome observation-driven, theoretical, and experimental studies
• on all the air-less bodies interacting with solar wind (like Mercury, Moon and asteroids) or with magnetospheric ions (outer planets icy moons);
• on micrometeoroid gardening and impact vaporization effects onto the surface and onto the exosphere;
• on the effects of other agents like photons, electrons, and high-energy particles;
• on laboratory experiments for investigating surface release processes and surface modifications.
• on spectral measurements of various planetary analogous undergone space weathering processes.

Co-organized by OPS
Convener: Anna Milillo | Co-conveners: Sae Aizawa, André Galli, Indhu Varatharajan

Ionospheres are a fundamental part of planetary and cometary atmospheres that are formed by solar radiation and are affected by a myriad of different processes, such as space weather activity or neutral atmosphere variations. Moreover, ionospheres play an important role in controlling the dynamics of the system, as they are the link between the neutral atmosphere, exosphere and surrounding plasma environments (e.g. the solar wind for Mars, Venus, Pluto and comets, and the Kronian magnetosphere for Titan). Understanding how each unmagnetized body reacts to all these factors is a key in comparative aeronomy because although a priori all of them have a general similar behaviour, they also have scientifically important differences caused by their different natures.

This session focuses on the ionospheres of Mars, Venus, Pluto, Titan, and comets, and solicits abstracts concerning remote and in situ data analysis, modelling studies, instrumentation and mission concepts. Topics may include, but are not limited to, day and night side ionospheric variability, sources and influences of ionization, ion-neutral coupling, current systems, comparative ionospheric studies, and solar wind-ionosphere interactions and responses of the ionized and neutral regimes to transient space weather events. Abstracts on general plasma and escape processes are also welcome.

Convener: Beatriz Sanchez-Cano | Co-conveners: Niklas Edberg, Xiaohua Fang, Christopher Fowler, Francisco González-Galindo, Yingjuan Ma

Space missions have provided a wealth of data on the atmospheres and aeronomy of rocky planets and moons, from the lower layers up to the external envelopes in direct contact with the solar wind. A recent emerging finding is evidence that the atmosphere behaves as a single coherent system with complex coupling between layers.

This session solicits contributions that investigate processes at work (chemistry, energetics, dynamics, electricity, escape etc...) on the terrestrial bodies of the Solar System and includes studies of the coupling between the lower/middle and upper atmospheres. Contributions based on analysis of recent spacecraft and ground-based
observations, comparative planetology studies, numerical modelling and relevant laboratory investigations are particularly welcome. The session will consist of invited and contributed oral talks as well as posters.

Convener: Anni Määttänen | Co-conveners: Francisco González-Galindo, Dmitrij Titov

Atmospheric aerosols and cloud particles are found in every atmosphere of the solar system, as well as, in exoplanets. Depending on their size, shape, chemical composition, latent heat, and distribution, their effect on the radiation budget varies drastically and is difficult to predict. When organic, aerosols also carry a strong prebiotic interest reinforced by the presence of heavy atoms such as nitrogen, oxygen or sulfur.

The aim of the session is to gather presentations on these complex objects for both terrestrial and giant planet atmospheres, including the special cases of Titan’s and Pluto's hazy atmospheres. All research aspects from their production and evolution processes, their observation/detection, to their fate and atmospheric impact are welcomed, including laboratory investigations and modeling.

Co-organized by TP/EXO
Convener: Panayotis Lavvas | Co-conveners: Nathalie Carrasco, Anni Määttänen

Understanding the formation, evolution, composition, the interior structure and the environment of Mercury is a primary goal of the ESA/JAXA BepiColombo mission and of many theoretical, observational, and experimental studies. NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft provided many new insights and surprising results regarding these goals. However, the mission also raised many new questions that will be addressed by ESA/JAXA BepiColombo that has been successfully launched in October 2018. This session welcomes contributions addressing the planet’s geology, surface composition, geodesy, interior structure, laboratory measurements, ground-based observations, exosphere, magnetosphere, gravity and magnetic fields and all those work related to the investigation of this terrestrial planet. A second focus lies on plans for new mission ideas to Mercury including Mercury landing modules.

Conveners: Johannes Benkhoff, Léa Griton | Co-conveners: Alice Lucchetti, Go Murakami, Joana S. Oliveira, Beatriz Sanchez-Cano, Joe Zender

The session welcomes presentations on all aspects of the Venus system including interior, surface, atmosphere and ionosphere. We welcome presentations based on past or current observations, theory and modelling, as well as presentations related to future instrumentation, orbiter & in-situ mission concepts.

Convener: Thomas Widemann | Co-conveners: Richard Ghail, Dmitry Gorinov, Anna Gülcher, Yeon Joo Lee, Moa Persson, Colin Wilson

Mars research community has seen an exceptional growth this year, with the unprecedented presence of 11 missions observing the planet simultaneously. The aim of this session is to share the knowledge and experience gained by all Mars missions, in operations and development, including the 3 new missions arrived this year.

We welcome contributions from any field of Mars science and exploration, in particular latest scientific results and instrument overviews, to promote synergies among the various exploration programmes in Europe and worldwide. This includes the latest results from all operational orbiters (Mars Express, ExoMars TGO, Odyssey, MRO, MAVEN, Mangalyaan/MOM, Tianwen-1, Hope) and surface assets (MSL, Insight, Mars2020, Tianwen-1), plus any operational and technical developments in preparation for the new missions (ExoMars RSP, MMX, Mars Sample Return, etc).

Co-organized by MITM
Convener: Alejandro Cardesin-Moinelo | Co-conveners: Gerhard Kminek, Patrick Martin, Colin Wilson, Claire Newman, Elliot Sefton-Nash, Håkan Svedhem, Dmitrij Titov, Jorge Vago

This session welcomes all presentations on Mars' interior and surface processes. With three new missions arrived in early 2021 (Mars2020, Hope, Tianwen-1), Mars research is as active as ever, and new data come in on a daily basis. The aim of this session is to bring together disciplines as various as geology, geomorphology, geophysics, mineralogy, glaciology, and chemistry. We welcome presentations on either present or past Mars processes, either pure Mars science or comparative planetology, either observations or modeling or laboratory experiments (or any combination of those). New results on Mars science obtained from recent in situ and orbital measurements are particularly encouraged, as well as studies related to upcoming missions and campaigns (ExoMars, Mars Sample Return).

Convener: Ernst Hauber | Co-conveners: Solmaz Adeli, Maurizio Pajola, Ana-Catalina Plesa

A great wealth of knowledge of our Moon stems from sampling and observing its surface. This session aims to attract a variety of scientific contributions addressing lunar surface processes and (mega)regolith evolution in terms of geology, geochronology, geophysics, geodynamics, geochemistry, numerical modeling, and remote sensing.

In addition, lunar science and exploration are developing further with new and exciting missions being developed by China, the US, Japan, India, Russia, Korea and Europe, and with new stakeholders. This session will address open lunar science and innovation:

- Celebrating the legacy of Apollo and Luna programmes after 50+ years
- Recent lunar results: geochemistry, geophysics in the context of open planetary science and exploration
- Synthesis of results from Clementine, Prospector, SMART-1, Kaguya, Chang’e 1, 2 and 3, Chandrayaan-1, LCROSS, LADEE, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, Artemis and GRAIL
- First results from Chang'E 4, Chang'E 5 , Chandrayaan2,
- Goals and Status of missions under preparation: orbiters, CLPS, Luna25-27, SLIM, Commercial landers, Lunar sample return missions, Future cargo landers, EL3
- Precursor missions, instruments and investigations for landers, rovers, sample return, and human cis-lunar activities, Gateway, and human lunar surface sorties (Artemis and International Lunar Base)
- Next International Lunar Decade: databases, instruments, missions, terrestrial field campaigns, support studies
- ILEWG and Global Exploration roadmaps towards a global robotic/human Moon village
- Strategic Knowledge Gaps, and key science Goals relevant to Lunar Global Exploration
- The Moon for planetary science, life sciences, astronomy, fundamental research, resources utilisation, human spaceflight, peaceful cooperation, economical development, inspiration, training and capacity building.
- How a laboratory on the Moon should be equipped to be useful for a variety of disciplines, including geology, biology, and chemistry
- Historical, societal, humanistic aspects of lunar exploration

Co-organized by MITM
Conveners: Bernard Foing, Tiantian Liu | Co-conveners: Philipp Gläser, Wajiha Iqbal, Thomas Kruijer, José Luis Mesa Uña, Joana S. Oliveira, Stephanie C. Werner

This session seeks papers on the biological, physicochemical, astrophysical, and paleontological studies of the living-matter origination problem, mechanism, conditions necessary and sufficient for living-matter origination and development on the Earth and other celestial objects; promising celestial objects for the living-matter occurrence, and other experimental, theoretical, and observational works related to the emergence and development of Life in our Solar System and beyond are welcomed.
This includes work related to theme of the Origins of Life to study interstellar chemistry, meteorites and comets chemistry as well as the chemistry of planets. A central issue in the research on the emergence of life is the paradoxical role of water in pre-biotic chemistry. Infact,on the one hand, water is essential for all known life, on the other hand it is highly destructive for key biomolecules such as nucleic and polypeptides.
A truly interdisciplinary approach is needed to delve into the core of the issue of emergence of life, because in addition to physics and chemistry it is also need to deploy a number of other sciences. We rely on contribution caming from mathematical or philosophical perspectives not only on astrobiology moreover we think that a part of the answers may lie in scientists who working on cancer research, genetics, space exploration paleontology who are not necessarily involved in this field. I argue that synthetic biology field, challenging most accepted definitions of life too, might also shed some novel and interesting perspectives on one of the most puzzling unanswered questions of science.

Public information:

The session deals with three central "C's" relevant in discussions about living-matter origination and development on the Earth and other celestial objects: Concepts, Conditions and Cofactors. 
All these approaches are dealing with transitions from non-living to living-matter and are integrating different technologies to shed some novel and interesting perspectives on one of the most puzzling unanswered questions of our science.

Co-organized by EXO
Convener: Rosanna del Gaudio | Co-conveners: Frank Trixler, Terence Kee

This merged session welcomes a broad range of presentations about future missions and instrumentation, and has a particular focus on small satellites. Recent advances in small platforms make it possible for small satellites, including CubeSats, to be considered as independent or complementary elements in planetary exploration missions, for example the small probes as part of the Hayabusa 2, DART and Hera mission. Presentations on Deep Space Planetary CubeSats, e.g. the small satellites accompanying the F-class ESA mission Comet Interceptor and those selected or proposed for the NASA SIMPLEX program are welcomed. Concepts for future mission may either be an augmentation to larger missions or as stand-alone missions of their own. We encourage presentations on new Planetary science mission architectures and associated technologies, as well as dedicated instrumentation that can be developed for these applications.

Co-organized by TP/OPS/SB
Conveners: Patricia Beauchamp, John Robert Brucato | Co-conveners: Marilena Amoroso, Vincenzo Della Corte, Iaroslav Iakubivskyi, Simone Pirrotta, Michel Blanc, Manuel Scherf, Thomas Smith

Over the past 15 years, our understanding of the processes that sculpted the inner Solar System has been in a state of flux. The 'classical model', -- which assumes that the rocky planets accreted in an orderly way from a continuous disk of rocky planetesimals -- systematically fails to match the small mass of Mars relative to Earth and the total mass and structure of the asteroid belt. New dynamical models have invoked different processes. In the Grand Tack model, Jupiter's large-scale migration clears out Mars' feeding zone. In the Early Instability model, the same zone is depleted by an early dynamical instability among the giant planets. In contrast, the Low-mass Asteroid belt model assumes that few planetesimals ever formed in the present-day asteroid belt or Mars region. Each model can reliably match the inner Solar System. Two new models invoke pebble accretion (rather than planetesimal accretion) as the dominant pathway for terrestrial planet growth. What remains to be understood is whether these models are consistent with all of the relevant physics of planet-forming disks and how they fit into the broader view of planet formation constrained by astronomical and cosmochemical measurements.

Co-organized by TP
Convener: Lena Noack
Mon, 20 Sep, 09:50–10:20 (CEST)

One of the most fundamental questions in planetary science today is the nature of the ambient climate of early Mars (Noachian-Early Hesperian): Was the ambient climate “warm and wet/arid”, as suggested by widespread phyllosilicates, higher erosion rates, enhanced crater degradation, valley networks, and open/closed-basin lakes? Or was the ambient climate “cold and icy”, as suggested by recent climate models, with occasional perturbations causing heating and melting of surface snow and ice, and runoff to produce the observed characteristics and features? Using the framework of these two ambient climate options, we will discuss how NASA Mars Perseverance Rover at Jezero Crater open-basin lake, CNSA Tianwen-1 Zhurong Rover at Utopia Planitia and the 2022 ESA-Roscosmos Rosalind Franklin Rover to Oxia Planum will help to address these issues.

Co-organized by TP
Convener: Maurizio Pajola
Wed, 22 Sep, 17:30–18:00 (CEST)