Jean-Pierre Lebreton, European Space Agency/ESTEC
EuroPlaNet’s N4 Outreach Activity provided a networking environment for sharing resources, expertise and ideas to assist organisations and individuals involved in
promoting planetary science across Europe.
The main aims were to raise the profile of planetary science across Europe, to encourage networking between science communicators, particularly within the planetary community, and facilitate collaborations and the sharing of skills and resources. In particular, N4 aimed to highlight European involvement in planetary sciences, including planetary missions, ground-based observations of planets, modelling and laboratory work, as well as promote the work of EuroPlaNet.
EuroPlaNet launched its outreach programme at an Outreach Strategy Workshop held in Toulouse, France, at the Cité de l’Espace in March 2006. Representatives from different institutes and countries involved in EuroPlaNet gave a broad view of ongoing outreach activities in each country, and set the foundations for a strategy for European dissemination of planetary science using innovative approaches to outreach, such as art, music, theatre, exhibitions and gastronomy.
To disseminate outreach products beyond national and language borders, a network of translators and contacts in different countries was set up. Multilingual DVDs and CD-ROM were produced and a dedicated Outreach website was commissioned to be the public face of the EuroPlaNet project.
EuroPlaNet outreach activities culminated in 2007 with the “Very Spatial Year” competition and initiatives to celebrate 50 years of spaceflight and the 10th anniversary of the launch of Cassini-Huygens.
Prizes were offered for the best children’s picture, artist’s entry and amateur astronomer’s image and the competition attracted entries from eight European countries. As well as receiving prizes of telescopes or binoculars, the European-level overall winners visited the European Space Agency’s technical facility, ESTEC in the Netherlands.
EuroPlaNet N4 has been committed to raising the profile of outreach within the science community, changing the perception that outreach as a “lightweight” activity and demonstrating that it is an essential part of a researcher’s role. EuroPlaNet, in partnership with the EscoNet programme, has provided science communication training to more than 25 young researchers, giving them the skills to convey their enthusiasm for their work effectively to different audiences, such as the media, decision-makers, the public and schools.