Interview (in German) with Rudolf von Steiger

Ruedi von Steiger, at ISSI since the first days of the institute in 1995, has retired from his position as Administrative Director and as Professor at the University of Bern by the end of July 2021. For ISSI’s science portfolio, Ruedi represented Solar and Plasma Physics with his own focus on the composition of the solar wind using theoretical modeling and data from Solar Composition Analyzers on space missions such as Ulysses. As the full-time administrative director, Ruedi was essential in running the institute and nurturing its growth from a few to almost a thousand visitors per year. Moreover, Ruedi was the institute’s link to the University of Bern for which he taught courses in Observational Cosmology, Nucleosynthesis, and Quantum Mechanics and served on the Faculty Board of the Faculty of Science. 

 
 
 

Season’s Greetings 2021

Jupiter Meets Saturn: In the closest Great Conjunction to occur for nearly 400 years, the two largest planets in our Solar System were separated from each other by just 0.1 degrees (1/5 the diameter of the full moon). This image by Matt Smith on Dec. 20, 2020 shows Jupiter with its 4 Galilean satellites alongside Saturn and its moons Rhea, Tethys, Dione and Titan. (The 2nd dot to the upper left of Jupiter is the star HIP 99314, caught here in a chance alignment with the orbital plane of the Galilean satellites.) ISSI is looking forward to hosting a workshop on dynamical interactions in the Saturnian system in May 2022.

ISSI wishes you and your beloved ones a safe and healthy holiday season and a great start to 2022!

Image Credit: Courtesy of Matt Smith (Instagram @insertastronamehere)

Post-Doctoral Fellowship Position in Space Sciences

The International Space Science Institute (ISSI) in Bern, Switzerland, invites applications for a

Post-Doctoral Fellowship Position in Space Sciences

for a two-year period, ideally starting in April 2022 (or by agreement). The successful candidate should have received a Ph.D. within the last five year in the field related to space sciences. Applications related to space physics, or to solar system sciences, or to astronomy & astrophysics are particularly welcome.

The successful candidate is expected to pursue their own independent research program and will have the opportunity to participate in ISSI’s research and activities. They are encouraged to collaborate also with the scientific staff of the Institute. ISSI also provides the possibility to participate to or even lead an international team at ISSI. The successful candidate will thus interact at ISSI with a large and varied community of scientists from all over the world. Additionally, ISSI encourages cooperation with Swiss universities.

Salary and conditions of employment will be similar to those provided by the Swiss NationalScience Foundation (SNSF salary ranges). Nationals from ESA Member States shall have priority.

Further information may be obtained from and from  Prof. Dr. Maurizio Falanga, email: mfalanga@issibern.ch.

The application (to be submitted as a single pdf-file) should comprise a cover letter (max. 1 page), an outline of the research plan (max. 5 pages), a curriculum vitae, (max. 2 pages), a list of publications, and the names and contact addresses of three potential references. Letters of reference will be requested by ISSI for candidates on the short list.

All applications must be received by ISSI no later than January 31, 2022, through the online submission form at https://www.issibern.ch/postdoc-application/

Announcement (pdf file) >>

Application >>

Mark Sargent, ISSI Science Program Manager

The ISSI Directorate appointed Dr. Mark Sargent as ISSI’s new Science Program Manager as of September 15, 2021. Mark Sargent succeeds Maurizio Falanga, who was the ISSI Science Program Manager since 2009. As of August 1, 2021, Maurizio is now ISSI’s Administrative Director.
 
Mark Sargent was born in Zurich, Switzerland and graduated with a degree in Physics (with specialisation in geophysics) from the ETH Zurich. After completing his PhD studies at the ETH Zurich in Switzerland in 2007, Mark went on to postdoctoral positions at the Max-Planck-Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg (MPIA) and at the “Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives (CEA)” near Paris. He subsequently joined the Astronomy Centre at the University of Sussex in 2013 as a member of their teaching and research faculty, and in 2016/17 also held the position of Royal Society Leverhulme Trust Senior Research fellow. Before joining ISSI, Mark spent a year at EPFL in Lausanne and Geneva Observatory as visiting fellow of the Swiss National Science Foundation.
 
Dr. Mark Sargent, Science Program Manager
Mark works in the field of galaxy formation and evolution, with a particular focus on how the gas and dust content of galaxies evolves over time, and how the process of star formation plays out in different types of galaxies, both in the nearby and distant Universe.
 
He is author or co-author of about 150 publications and in his career has mentored approximately 30 students for MSc or PhD projects. He currently chairs the Square Kilometre Array Science Working Group on Extragalactic Continuum science, and has recently also served the community as chair of the e-MERLIN time allocation committee and as a member of the UK radio astronomy strategy review panel.
 
 
 
 
Mark is very much looking forward to interacting with the whole ISSI community, and to “absorbing” as large a dose as possible of the science discussions that will take place at ISSI in the coming years.

Prof. Dr. Maurizio Falanga is the new ISSI Administrative Director as of 1st of August 2021

The ISSI Board of Trustees and the University of Bern appointed Prof. Dr. Maurizio Falanga to serve ISSI as the new Administrative Director and at the University of Bern as Professor at the Physics Institute. Maurizio Falanga succeeds Rudolf von Steiger in these positions as of 1st of August 2021.


Prof. Dr. Maurizio Falanga

Maurizio Falanga was born in Basel, Switzerland and graduated in Theoretical Physics at the University of Basel. He received his PhD in Astrophysics at the University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Italy. Afterwards he held various research fellowship positions in astrophysics departments around Europe. His scientific background is in high-energy astrophysics (hot universe and compact objects). He is author and co-author of about 200 published papers and (co-)editor of several books in his research fields. He has been invited to serve on a number of high-level international committees like Board member of the A&A Journal and others. Since 2009 he is the science program manager at ISSI, and between 2013 and 2019 he has been appointed as the first part-time Executive Director of ISSI-Beijing, China. Thus, Maurizio is known to the ISSI community and is highly regarded as a friendly and open-minded person who is always approachable. ISSI is looking forward to working with Maurizio in his new function.

 

 

Prof. Dr. Rudolf von Steiger

Ruedi von Steiger, at ISSI since the first days of the institute in 1995, has retired from his position as Administrative Director and as Professor at the University of Bern by the end of July 2021. For ISSI’s science portfolio, Ruedi represented Solar and Plasma Physics with his own focus on the composition of the solar wind using theoretical modeling and data from Solar Composition Analyzers on space missions such as Ulysses. As the full-time administrative director, Ruedi was essential in running the institute and nurturing its growth from a few to almost a thousand visitors per year. Moreover, Ruedi was the institute’s link to the University of Bern for which he taught courses in Observational Cosmology, Nucleosynthesis, and Quantum Mechanics and served on the Faculty Board of the Faculty of Science. ISSI will forever be thankful to Ruedi for his tireless and inspirational service for more than 25 years.

Board of Trustees appoints Prof. Dr. Roger-Maurice Bonnet as ISSI Honorary Director

ISSI Honorary Director Prof.-Dr. Roger-Maurice Bonnet

Over time, Prof. Dr. Roger-Maurice Bonnet has constantly supported the development of the International Space Science Institute (ISSI) in Bern, Switzerland. In addition, during two specific periods of time, he has played an especially important role in establishing ISSI.

First, as the director of Science of the European Space Agency (ESA), Prof. Bonnet helped Prof. Dr. Johannes Geiss in paving the way, which led to the creation of ISSI in January 1995.

Second, as the successor of Prof. Geiss as Executive Director of ISSI, from 2003 till 2012, Prof. Bonnet has expanded ISSI scientific interests and developed the tools by which ISSI now engages a global scientific audience.

Acknowledging his pivotal role and expressing deep gratitude for his steady and effective support and leadership that has made ISSI a beacon in space science, the ISSI Board of Trustees presents Prof. Roger-Maurice Bonnet with the title of Honorary Director of the International Space Science Institute, effective as of June 1, 2021.

With this award, the Board of Trustees wishes to highlight Prof. Bonnet’s essential role, both in the past and today, as a true ambassador of ISSI to the international scientific community.

The ISSI Board of Trustees

 

ISSI Game Changer Online Seminar: News from the ISSI Team

Dear Friends of ISSI and the ISSI Game Changer Online Seminar!
 
The first season of the ISSI Game Changer Seminar Series “How missions change(d) our view of the Solar System, the Universe, and the Earth” ends with the end of this month of March. 

In four blocks since July 2020, we first covered missions such as Rosetta, Hayabusa II, and SOHO to solar system objects, and then astrophysical space telescopes such as Gaia, Integral, and the Hubble Space Telecope. In 2021 to date, we presented Earth observation missions such as SMOS, Cryosat and GRACE. The series will conclude on March 25 with a presentation on CFOSAT, a joint Chinese and French oceanography mission to understand ocean dynamics and climate variability. 

Before that, however, we present three more highlights: First, this Thursday, March 4, Prof. Stamatios Krimigis will report on the space odyssey of the two Voyager probes, which have now left the solar system and are cruising in interstellar space!  This will be followed on March 11 by a talk on the Apollo program and its scientific legacy presented by Prof. Jim Head a witness to the first manned landing on an extraterrestrial body. For March 18, we are soliciting a talk on an x-ray astrophysics mission. 

The Game Changers seminars will then take a break in April. In May we plan to resume the series. But this time the focus will not be on missions but rather on themes, “Ideas and Findings about the Solar System, the Universe and our Terrestrial Environment”, as we plan to call it. 

Foreseen are talks on topics like the origin of the Moon and of the Solar System, comparing it to other planetary systems. Spectroscopy of extrasolar planetary atmospheres will be on our agenda as well as Martian Seismology, the composition of the Sun, space weather and astrobiology. We will further look at the latest on the Hubble constant controversy, present new results on the merger history of the Milky Way, and offer exiting views on supermassive black holes – in our Galaxy and elsewhere. For our terrestrial environment we will keep an eye on problems related to climate and global change and their societal impact but also compare the Earth to its siblings in the solar system.  
 
We plan not to proceed in blocks this time but rather mix themes. An astrophysical topic can therefore immediately follow an environmental topic and precede a planetary topic.  

While in our present program we have been looking back at those missions that helped us better understand our world, for the new series we dare to look ahead to topics that we consider to be particularly promising for the future.
 
With our best regards and stay safe & tuned

Your ISSI Team 

Prof. em. Dr. Hans Balsiger

Hans Balsiger (picture taken on the ISSI Annual Dinner 2015)
Hans Balsiger (picture taken on the occasion of the ISSI Annual Dinner 2015)

With great sadness, ISSI heard of the passing away of Prof. Hans Balsiger, former Director of the Physics Institute of the University of Bern and Professor of Experimental Physics. Prof. Balsiger helped found the institute and served on the ISSI Science Committee and the Board of Trustees for twenty years, between 1995 and 2014. He was a true friend of the institute and always a great supporter. His advice was highly appreciated. 

 

ISSI and its staff will miss him greatly!

Our thoughts are with his family and friends.

 

 

Season’s Greetings 2020

The year 2020 will be remembered as the year of COVID-19. Our thoughts linger with those who suffered as a result of the pandemic! But 2020 also saw great achievements and innovations in space science. Among them, two robotic sample return missions: The stunning Hayabusa2 mission that brought back samples from Ryugu and then flew on to asteroid 1998 KY26. And the historic Chang’e 5 mission that returned the first samples from the Moon since Luna24 in 1976. Perfect Christmas presents for the International Space Science Community! ISSI congratulates our close Japanese and Chinese friends on these achievements, and at the same time proudly reports the timely publication of Volume 74 of our Space Science series on the “Role of Sample Return in Addressing Major Questions in Planetary Sciences”.

ISSI wishes you and your beloved ones a safe and healthy holiday season and a great start to 2021!

Image Credit: Hayabusa 2 illustration by Akihiro Ikeshita