A Word form the ISSI Executive Director

Dear friends of ISSI!

Dear visitors of our website!

It almost feels like a relaunch! Since the beginning of this month of September, we have visitors again at ISSI. We started off with an International Team in the first week of the month (Sept 6–10) working on plasmas in the vicinity of comets and of Mars and this week (Sept 13–17) we host a team working on Pulsars. These are the first in person team meetings at ISSI in 1.5 years, since March 2020! There will be more International Teams coming to ISSI in September and the following months as you can see in our calendar which is quite full. Moreover, this second week of September (13–17) we are hosting the first ISSI Workshop since the Deep Earth Interior Workshop a year ago! The subject of the present workshop is the Evolution of the Interior of Venus. The subject is particularly timely since earlier this year NASA and ESA chose THREE missions to Venus for the coming years. Many of the workshop conveners and participants are involved in these missions, in particular in the ESa EnVision mission and the NASA Veritas mission but the NASA DaVinci mission is also represented.

Impression of the ongoing Workshop on Venus including remote participation

The Venus workshop had been postponed two times and the workshop and book project was finally launched adopting the new alternative scheme that ISSI had designed to better cope with COVID-19 Implications. The scheme starts the project off with an online meeting and has the in person meeting in the flow of the project when book chapters have been devised and/or (partly) written. The workshop is then used to discuss the chapters and their science content and the relations between chapters. We find this week that this works very well and motivates lively discussions. Because of COVID still being around the workshop is hybrid with about half of the participants joining remotely. We find that the investment in our state-of-the-art audio and video system pays off and eliminates some of the major disadvantages of hybrid meetings, such as discussion in the room cannot easily be followed from remote. If those speculating that the hybrid format will continue to be with us for some time are right then ISSI can say that it is well equipped for the task.

Also, in this month of September we will resume the Game Changers Online Seminar series with a talk on Venus Exploration by Richard Ghail from the University of London, one of the masterminds of the ESA EnVision mission. The program until the end of the year is still under development – we admit that we are a bit late – but should be in its final form by the end of this week. Stay tuned! We will cover a wide range of subjects from astrophysics and planetary science to climate change and astrobiology.

Of course, nobody can say with great confidence how the situation with COVID will evolve, in particular in Switzerland. But we hope that we can continue with our program even through coming the fall and winter. We have a set of rules at the institute and require visitors to be either vaccinated, recovered from the disease or negatively tested.

With my best regards


Tilman Spohn