Michael R. Meyer has been selected as the Johannes Geiss Fellow 2024

The International Space Science Institute ISSI is proud to announce

Prof. Michael R. Meyer

(University of Michigan, USA) as the Johannes Geiss Fellow 2024.

Michael R. Meyer, Johannes Geiss Fellow 2024

Michael R. Meyer has been a Professor of Astronomy at the University of Michigan since 2016. He was Chair of Star and Planet Formation at the ETH in Zürich (2009-2016) and was formerly a Professor/Astronomer at the Department of Astronomy/Steward Observatory of the University of Arizona (2000-2009). He was a Hubble Fellow at the University of Arizona (1997-2000) and did a post-doc at the Max-Planck-Institute for Astronomie (1995-1997). Prof. Meyer is a world recognized expert in the formation, evolution, and characterisation of planetary systems, and associated implications on the prospects for life in the Universe. He has also been deeply involved in the development of ground- and space-based instrumentation, including both the NIRCam and NIRISS instruments for the James Webb Space Telescope as well as high contrast imaging systems/spectrographs for 6-10 meter telescopes and next generation extremely large telescopes. Prof. Meyer will visit ISSI in the summer of 2024.



The Fellowship is named after Prof. Johannes Geiss, the founder of the institute.


ISSI as an Observer of the Virtual Alpine Observatory (VAO)

The International Space Science Institute is now an associated partner in the research network of the Virtual Alpine Observatory (VAO). The VAO, located in Bavaria, Germany, is operating as a network of European High Altitude Research Stations based in the Alps and similar mountain ranges, and now includes ten countries (Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Georgia, Italy, Norway, Slovenia and Switzerland). In addition, the “International Space Science Institute (ISSI)” is welcomed as a new “observer”. ISSI now supports VAO in this capacity alongside the Alpine Convention and the European Space Agency (ESA). Find more information on the Webpage of the Virtual Alpine Observatory (VAO) >>

Michael Rast, ISSI Earth Science Director, and Michael Krautblattler, VAO Coordinator and Chair of the VAO Board 

“The Extraordinary First Year of Science of the James Webb Space Telescope” Pro ISSI Talk with Dr. Antonella Nota

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is one of the most ambitious scientific mission ever flown, over 100 times more sensitive than its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope.

JWST has been designed to answer outstanding questions about the Universe and to make breakthrough discoveries in ALL fields of astronomy. Accessible to the scientific community worldwide, Webb is designed and built to offer scientists the capabilities needed to push the frontiers of knowledge of our own Solar System, of the formation of stars and planets, including planets outside our Solar System (exoplanets), and of galaxy assembly and evolution, in ways never before possible. 

Webb is observing the Universe in the near-infrared and mid-infrared. It carries a suite of state-of-the-art astronomical instruments capable of addressing a very broad spectrum of outstanding problems in astrophysics. The instrument complement includes powerful cameras, spectrographs, and coronagraphs, designed specifically to observe faint objects and structures in close proximity to very bright celestial targets.  The telescope was launched on December 25, 2021 on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, from where it embarked on a month-long journey to its final orbit about one and a half million kilometres from Earth, at what is called the second Lagrange point or L2. In the first three weeks after launch, Webb unfolded its five-layered sunshield, and deployed its  gold coated beryllium 6.5-metre primary mirror.  The launch and deployment were executed flawlessly and after a few months  of telescope and instrument verifications, the observatory was ready for science. The speaker will review these very first phases in the mission, the early excitement of realizing that, from the first data received, the observatory  performance was already exceeding the expectations of its designers and builders. One year later, JWST is producing a steady stream of breakthrough results in all field of astrophysics. The speaker will review the most significant recent  highlights and show how JWST is already changing the way we see the Universe.

Pro ISSI talk was recorded on November 1, 2023

“Telescopes on the Moon: The Next Decades” with Joseph Silk (John Hopkins University and IAP, France)

The lunar surface allows a unique way forward, to go well beyond current limits in astronomy and cosmology. The far side provides a unique radio-quiet environment for probing the dark ages via 21 cm interferometry to seek elusive clues on the building blocks of the galaxies and the  nature of inflation.  Optical interferometers will eventually provide up to  a few microarsecond  imaging of the nearest exoplanets.  Far-infrared telescopes in cold and dark polar craters will probe the cosmic microwave background  radiation back to the first months of the Big Bang. 

Joseph Silk is Homewood Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and a researcher at Institutd’Astrophysique de Paris and Service d’Astrophysique, CEA Saclay in France. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Beecroft Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at the University of Oxford. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Silk has received many awards, including the 2011 International Balzan Foundation Prize. He has published more than 700 articles and several popular books. Most of his scientific research is related to cosmology and particle astrophysics. His specialties include the cosmic microwave background, the fossil radiation from the beginning of the universe; formation of the galaxies; and exploration of the nature of the dark matter that is the dominant form of matter in the observable universe. He discovered the Silk damping mass, a key component of the Big Bang theory of modern cosmology, and his predictions of the associated damping of cosmic microwave background radiation fluctuations have been verified by several recent experiments.

Webinar was recorded on October 26, 2023

Global Change in Africa

Volume 86 in the Space Sciences Series of ISSI

The main objective of this book is to provide an overview of the benefit of using Earth Observation data to monitor global environmental changes due to natural phenomena and anthropogenic forcing factors over the African continent, and highlight a number of applications of high societal relevance. The main topics presented in the book concern: water resources, floods and droughts, coastal zones changes and exploitation of mineral resources and its impact on the environment. 

The chapters “Enhancing the Uptake of Earth Observation Products and Services in Africa Through a Multi-level Transdisciplinary Approach”, “Water Resources in Africa under Global Change: Monitoring Surface Waters from Space”, “Water Resources in Africa: The Role of Earth Observation Data and Hydrodynamic Modeling to Derive River Discharge”, “The Role of Space-Based Observations for Groundwater Resource Monitoring over Africa”, “Hydrometeorological Extreme Events in West Africa: Droughts”, “Hydrometeorological Extreme Events in Africa: The Role of Satellite Observations for Monitoring Pluvial and Fluvial Flood Risk”, “Artisanal Exploitation of Mineral Resources: Remote Sensing Observations of Environmental Consequences, Social and Ethical Aspects” and “Coastal Zone Changes in West Africa: Challenges and Opportunities for Satellite Earth Observations” are available open access under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License via link.springer.com.

 This volume results from a remote Workshop organized by the International Space Science Institute (ISSI) on 11–15 January 2021.

The volume is edited by A. Cazenave, D. Baratoux, T. Lopez, J.K. Kouamé, J. Beneviste, and L. Moreira and all chapters are co-published open access in Surveys in Geophysics, Volume 44, Issue 1, 2023

Hard Copy >>



Probing Earth’s Deep Interior using Space Observations Synergistically

Volume 85 in the Space Sciences Series of ISSI

During the recent decades, space missions (e.g., CHAMP, GOCE, GRACE and Swarm) have been developed by space agencies in Europe and the USA to measure the Earth’s gravity and magnetic fields and their spatio-temporal variations. These successful missions have already provided a wealth of groundbreaking results about the permanent and time-variable gravity and magnetic fields of the Earth. However, more can be learned about the Earth’s structure by combining data of the gravity and magnetic fields, together with Earth’s rotation data routinely measured using space geodesy techniques, as well as with the most up-to-date modelling of the Earth’s internal structure. Use in synergy of these global observables and model data represents a unique way to further investigate the physics of the deep Earth’s interior. In addition to the well-known correlation between Earth’s rotation and magnetic field observed at interannual and decadal time scales, recent studies have reported unexpected correlation between spatio-temporal changes of the gravity field and magnetic field, also at interannual time scale. These changes may result from processes occurring in the liquid core and at the core-mantle boundary.

This book gathers a series of chapters that provide state-of-the art overviews on the gravity field, magnetic field and Earth’s rotation observations, and on their interpretation in terms of the deep Earth’s structure, as well as on core dynamics and processes at the core-mantle boundary. This volume results from a Workshop held at the International Space Science Institute (ISSI) in Bern on 1–4 September, 2020.

The chapters ‘Gravity Variations and Ground Deformations Resulting from Core Dynamics’, ‘Rapid Variations of Earth’s Core Magnetic Field’, ‘A Dynamical Prospective on Interannual Geomagnetic Field Changes’, ‘Core Eigenmodes and their Impact on the Earth’s Rotation’, ‘Earth’s Rotation: Observations and Relation to Deep Interior’, ‘Interiors of Earth-Like Planets and Satellites of the Solar System’, ‘Correction to: Interiors of Earth-like planets and satellites of the Solar System’, ‘Fluid Dynamics Experiments for Planetary Interiors’, ‘Structure, Materials and Processes in the Earth’s Core and Mantle’, ‘Correction to: Structure, Materials and Processes in the Earth’s Core and Mantle’ and ‘Applications and Challenges of GRACE and GRACE Follow-On Satellite Gravimetry’ are available open access under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License via link.springer.com. 

The book is edited by Veronique Dehant, Mioara Mandea,  Anny Cazenave, Lorena Moreira and all chapters are co-published open access in Surveys in Geophysics, Volume 43, Issue 1, 2022

Hard Copy >>



Magnetic Switchbacks in the Young Solar Wind

Workshop Report Magnetic Switchbacks in the Young Solar Wind convened by Marco Velli, Maria Madjarska, Stuart Bale, Olga Panasenco, Etienne Pariat, Anna Tenerani, Tim Horbury, and Thierry Dudok de Wit

The observation by NASA’s Parker Solar Probe mission of very strong magnetic field fluctuations in the inner heliosphere, leading to strong deflections locally reversing the direction of the field itself, called switchbacks, has attracted considerable attention from the heliophysics and space physics communities.

Workshop Participants 

A recent ISSI workshop (18–22 September 2023) brought together solar and solar wind scientists with the objective of better understanding how these structures are formed and how they contribute to solar wind heating, acceleration, and the scattering of energetic particles. Though there remain competing theories for the formation and development of switchbacks, a major outcome of the workshop was the recognition of role played by small scale energetic magnetic field annihilation (or reconnection) events, exchanging plasma between open and closed fields in the lower corona, that lead to the development of small-scale jets of hot plasma. There is general agreement that these may provide the necessary conditions for the formation of switchbacks in the corona and inner heliosphere. A series of review papers describing the current state of our understanding of switchbacks and the outcomes of the workshop will be published in the journal Space Science Reviews and as a volume in the Space Science Series of ISSI.

“Essential Climate Variable (ECV) Products from Satellite Gravimetry” with Adrian Jäggi (University of Bern, Switzerland)

Satellite gravimetry missions such as the on-going GRACE Follow-On (FO) mission, the planned GRACE-FO continuation mission as well as a Next Generation Gravity Mission (NGGM) that will form together with the GRACE-FO continuation mission the Mass-change and Geosciences International Constellation (MAGIC), are unique observing systems to measure the tiny variations of the Earth’s gravity field. Time-variable gravity derived by satellite gravimetry provides integrative measures of Terrestrial Water Storage (TWS) variations on a regional to global scale. Given the large interest of the scientific community to understand the processes of changes in TWS, comprising all the water storage on the Earth’s continental areas in frozen and liquid state, including ice caps, glaciers, snow cover, soil moisture, groundwater and the storage in surface water bodies and the interaction with ocean mass and sea level, TWS was adopted as a new Essential Climate Variable (ECV) in the implementation plan 2022 of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS).

In this talk an overview of the underlying principles of the challenging satellite gravimetry data analysis is given and selected key scientific results and products are highlighted. A special focus is on European and international initiatives such as the Combination Service of Time-variable Gravity Fields (COST-G) of the International Association of Geodesy (IAG) and the H2020 project Global Gravity-based Groundwater Product (G3P) to exploit this unique observable in order to eventually derive the ECV Groundwater.

Groundwater is a most fundamental resource, but there is no service available yet to deliver data nor is there any other data source worldwide that operationally provides information on changing groundwater resources in a consistent, observation-based way with global coverage. By capitalizing from TWS derived from satellite gravimetry and from other satellite-based water storage compartments the H2020 project G3P established a prototype to provide groundwater storage change for large areas with global coverage that is planned to be included as a cross-cutting extension of the existing service portfolio of the European Union’s Earth Observation programme Copernicus.

Adrian Jäggi is the Director of the Astronomical Institute of the University of Bern (AIUB) in Switzerland. He is a Fellow of the International Association for Geodesy (IAG) and was president of IAG’s Commission 2 (Gravity Field) between 2019 and 2023. He initiated several international scientific projects in the field of space geodesy, among them projects funded by the Horizon 2020 Framework Program for Research and Innovation and the European Research Council, and is the founding Chair of IAG’s Combination Service of Time-variable Gravity fields (COST-G).

Webinar was recorded on September 28, 2023

Surface-Bounded Exospheres and Interactions in the Inner Solar System

New Topical Collection published in Space Science Reviews (Open Access)

A new collection of 8 review articles has been completed and is available online in Space Science Reviews, a printed book version will be published as volume 84 of the Space Sciences Series of ISSI.

Studying the evolution of the surfaces and atmospheres of planetary bodies in the solar system is fundamental to our understanding of the present state of the solar system. Exospheres are the interfaces between the planetary body and the open space, so that, studying the exospheric filling and loss processes is the way to expand knowledge of the body’s evolution. While the exospheres are present around any kind of planetary body, they are quite different if we consider the bodies with an atmosphere and those without a collisional gas envelope.  In the latter case the exosphere is directly connected to the surface, thus, it is called surface-bounded exosphere, since the surface release processes are also the exospheric filling ones and atoms and molecules collide with the surface far more frequently than collisions with each other. 

Edited by Anna Milillo, Menelaos Sarantos, Benjamin D. Teolis, Go Murakami, and Peter Wurz, this collection presents results from the ISSI Workshop “Surface Bounded Exospheres and Interactions in the Solar System”, held 20–24 January 2020, which reviewed the knowledge on the surface-bounded exosphere conditions, generation, variability and loss processes, from theoretical, observational and experimental points of view. The output collects the present state of knowledge on this subject and drafts a roadmap for future investigations in view of the next missions, i.e., BepiColombo to Mercury or orbiters and landers to be operated on the Moon.

Complete Topical Collection in Space Science Reviews >>

Science for a Better World

We have previously expressed ISSI’s concern about the invasion of Ukraine and the resulting humanitarian crisis. The need to maintain science as a platform for dialogue even in times of conflict has become more prominent. As this war continues and other tensions rise around the world, it seems more important than ever to maintain institutions where such peaceful and constructive dialogue can take place. Science is a universal language that knows no geographical or political boundaries, nor boundaries related to race, gender or sexual orientation.

ISSI provides an open and neutral environment where such open and free discussions about Space and Earth Science, and related fields can take place. Dialogue between scientists promotes not only better science, but also a better mutual understanding among people of different origins and cultures. At ISSI we like to think of this as our own small contribution to a better world.

The Team at ISSI and Willy Benz, chair of the Board of Trustees