A Word form the ISSI Executive Director

Dear friends of ISSI,

Dear visitors of our web site,

As you all know, we have entered into the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. The institute continues to be a quiet place with staff working mostly from home as is required by Swiss law. Visits to ISSI require testing on the way to Switzerland and back and I – for one – have gotten quite used to having regular PCR tests. To date, none of the staff has been infected, fortunately, and some of us have received their (first) vaccination shots. We – like everybody else – hope that the vaccination campaign speeds up and that indeed people can be vaccinated by the summer or by the end of the season.

While the institute remains a quiet place ISSI activities are continuing (compare our Annual Report just published). International Teams and Working Groups continue to be meeting online. The “Global Change in Africa” workshop was held in January with most participating remotely as was the “Tipping Points in the Earth’s Climate”- Forum the same months. The “Venus: Evolution through Time” as well as the “The Heliosphere in the Local Interstellar Medium” and the “Strong Gravitational Lensing” workshop teams are proceeding following the new alternative scheme for the workshop-to-book process in which the chapter writing starts after an online kick-off and with regular online tag-ups. The in-person workshop will be organized as the pandemic allows in the flow of the project and will be largely devoted to discussions of the then matured subject. Other workshops and forums are still postponed, however, waiting for the end of the crisis.

Our online seminar series about missions that changed the game in the space sciences has ended with the month of March, after 28 lectures had been given. Recordings of these are available here on our website and continue to be downloaded often. The ISSI directorate decided to continue the series albeit changing gears to some degree. Rather than presenting missions, we will during the months of May to July look at “Ideas and Findings about the Solar System, the Universe and our Terrestrial Environment”. The first talk will be on tipping points in the Earth’s climate on May 6thand we will then proceed to present a wide variety of subjects in Earth, Solar and Planetary sciences and Astrophysics (see the schedule here). We are extremely proud to have been able to recruit leaders of their fields as speakers, including physics Nobel laureates Adam Riess and Reinhard Genzel. Come and join us for these extraordinary events!

Stay safe and I hope to meet you all in person at ISSI sometime soon!

Tilman Spohn


ISSI executive Director

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