“The Hayabusa Missions” with Prof. Seiji Sugita, University of Tokyo, Japan

The Hayabusa missions have been the first landing and sample return missions to asteroids. They are marveled worldwide amongst space scientists, engineers and enthusiasts for the novel technologies used at comparatively low cost. Hayabusa was launched in 2003 to the near-Earth asteroid Itokawa and returned asteroid dust to the Earth, when the sample container landed in Australia on June 13, 2010. This was the first sample of an asteroid (S-type) brought back to Earth. Hayabusa was followed by Hayabusa2 launched in 2014 to C-type near-earth asteroid Ryugu. Hayabusa2 took samples from two sites in February and July 2019 that are expected back on December 6, 2020. In addition to sampling, Hayabusa2 carries an ambitious payload including optical and thermal infrared cameras, a near-infrared spectrometer and a LIDAR. Moreover, Hayabusa2 created an impact crater on Ryugu with its small carry-on impactor (SCI) and landed four rovers, one, MASCOT, provided by the German Aerospace Center DLR and three Japanese Minerva rovers. With its payload, Hayabusa2 did a thorough exploration of a very primitive body, a likely remnant of the planetesimals that formed the Earth and the planets.

Dr. Seiji Sugita is a professor at the Department of Earth and Planetary Science at the University of Tokyo and the Science PI of the Hayabusa2 Optical Navigation Camera. His general interest is in the origin and evolution of planets and their surface environments including life. He specializes in impact experiments, high-speed optical spectroscopy and mass spectroscopy.

This Seminar was recorded on July 30, 2020

ISSI Tuesday Tea(m) Time 1551

Report by Joachim Wambsganss, ISSI Director

Following the interruption of the usual activities at ISSI in Bern due to the Corona crisis, the ISSI directorate discussed other/new/additional ways to promote and enable international space science. We came up with three new initiatives, the first of which started on July 14, 2020: ‘ISSI Tuesday Tea(m) Time 1551’ and will be presented here.

The idea behind it is as follows: Due to national and international travel restrictions, regular full physical meetings at ISSI Bern are presently difficult. This is of particular concern to the ISSI International Teams. International Teams consist of 8 to 15 scientists and typically meet in Bern at the ISSI premises two or three times within roughly two years. At any given time, about 50 International Teams are “active”. Since mid-March, no meeting of an International Team has taken place at ISSI although the first physical meetings will likely resume in September.  

To provide support to International Teams, the ISSI directorate came up with the suggestion to meet “virtually” in form of video conferences. In order to structure this and to give ISSI scientists a chance to participate, we fixed a weekly slot, Tuesdays at 15:51 o’clock Bern time (i.e. CEST or CET, respectively). So ideally, every Tuesday a different team shall meet within the next so many months. The slightly odd-looking time-of-day was chosen because the numerals 1551 look very similar to the letters ISSI and hence have a visual connection and can be easily remembered as well. Since on one hand, this afternoon time is when many cultures celebrate a cup of tea, on the other hand we want each ISSI Team to use this opportunity, we call this new activity: 

ISSI Tuesday Tea(m) Time 1551

(or in short ISSI TTT 1551). Most of the International Teams responded positively, some embraced this new opportunity of a soon-to-be-held team meeting enthusiastically.

The first actual “ISSI TTT 1551”-event took place on Tuesday this week, July 14, 2020. The ISSI International Team An Exploration of the Valley Region in the Low altitude Ionosphere: Response to Forcing from Below and Above and Relevance to Space Weather lead by Jorge Chau (Leibniz Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Rostock, Germany) met online via the ZOOM system, the session had been prepared by ISSI.

Screenshot of the first Tuesday Tea(m) Meeting with the J. Chau Team and ISSI Staff Members














This “ISSI TTT 1551”-premiere worked very well. After a few introductory words by ISSI representatives, the team chair Koki Chau presented a draft agenda for the meeting. First some administrative issues were discussed, e.g. whether the next envisioned physical meeting team meeting at ISSI Bern – foreseen for end of September – could or should be held, maybe combined as a hybrid meeting with remote participation possible. Then the team discussed how to proceed with another new ISSI activity, namely an ISSI@25 video, meant to celebrate 25 years of ISSI with a 25 second video per International Team (this will be reported about in the near future with a separate spotlight). Following a brief status of activities, three short science talks (10 min each) were presented by team members followed by a Q&A period. A general discussion concluded the meeting.

This first ISSI TTT 1551 was an excellent realization of our vision at ISSI of how such a meeting should work. Five ISSI staff members participated, at least for part of the time. They enjoyed the opportunity to meet the team and get an excellent impression on what their science is all about as well as of the enthusiasm of the team members. This team was an excellent pioneer and did extremely well from our ISSI perspective. We certainly hope that the team enjoyed their Tea Time as well. We look forward to many more interesting and exciting ISSI TTT 1551 events with other active ISSI International Teams in the coming months!

3He-rich Solar Energetic Particles Observations at Parker Solar Probe

Report from ISSI Team #425 Origins of 3He-Rich Solar Energetic Particles led by R. Bucik and J.F. Drake 

Left: Mass histogram for 3He-rich SEP event on 2019 April 20 shows small but clear 3He peak. Right: Jet observations at the west limb from the SDO/AIA. Adapted from Wiedenbeck et al. (2020).

3He-rich solar energetic particles (SEPs) are one of the most peculiar and least explored particle populations in the heliosphere with a tremendously enhanced abundance of the 3He nuclide and ultra-heavy elements (e.g., Pb) by a factor up to 104 above the solar corona or solar wind. One reason for the current lack of understanding of 3He-rich SEPs is the small size of these events. Recently launched Parker Solar Probe (PSP) is able to approach the solar sources of 3He rich SEPs at distances (~0.05 au; 1 au ~ 1.5⨉108 km) that have never been reached before. On 2019 April 20-21, the IS⊙IS energetic particle suite on PSP made its first observations of 3He-rich SEPs. 3He-rich SEPs were observed at energies near 1 MeV/nuc in association with energetic protons, heavy ions, and electrons. At the time of 3He-rich SEP observations, the spacecraft was near 0.46 au. The event was also detected by ULEIS and EPAM on Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) spacecraft, located near Earth, at 0.99 au from the Sun. The average intensity at ~ 1 MeV/nuc was a factor ~4 greater at PSP than at ACE, which might be attributable to a 1/r2 dependence of the fluence, where r is a distance from the Sun. At that time, PSP and ACE were both magnetically connected to a location near the west limb of the Sun. Remote sensing measurements showed the presence of a type III radio burst and also a helical unwinding jet from this region of the Sun. This activity, which is commonly associated with 3He-rich SEP acceleration on the Sun, originated from the active region number AR 12738. We also searched for smaller 3He-rich SEP events that are not observable near the Earth but might have been detectable closer to the Sun because of the expected strong radial dependence of the intensities of SEP events impulsively released from localized sources. Although no such events were detected during the first two orbits of PSP, this search will be continuing as PSP moves progressively closer to the Sun, and as solar activity increases. These observations should enable IS⊙IS to make significant progress in understanding small 3He-rich SEP events.


Animation of the Jet observations at the west limb from the SDO/AIA. Adapted from Wiedenbeck et al. (2020).



Wiedenbeck M.E., Bucik R., Mason G.M., Ho G.C., Leske R.A. et al., 3He-rich Solar Energetic Particle Observations at Parker Solar Probe and Near Earth, Astrophys. J. Suppl. Ser. 246, 42, 2020.

A Word from the ISSI Executive Director

Dear friends of ISSI,
Dear visitors of our web page,

in the continuing COVID-19 crisis, ISSI is proud to announce its first online tools!

No worries, ISSI will remain committed to its mission of providing the international Space Science Community with a forum for meeting and discussion in an informal and productive atmosphere here in Bern and document the result in the literature! As we value face-to-face analog meetings (as some call them) we are now following up on earlier ideas to increase our usage of digital media. As announced on our web site we will start at the end of the month an online seminar series on missions as “Game Changers”. How often have scientists been sure to more or less know what was in front of them when they saw their mission launched? After all, it has to be that way to some extent, as engineers need an understanding of the environment they design the spacecraft and instruments for. And how often have we been completely surprised by what we found? Internationally renowned experts and leaders in missions will let us know what they think their mission changed. We will start the series end of July with a block of four missions, covering the fantastic Japanese sample return missions Hayabusa 1 and 2, the New Horizons Mission to the exotic world of Pluto and the deep outer Solar System and surprises from our neighboring planets Mars and Venus revealed by Mars and Venus Express. We are planning some more seminar talks on Solar System missions before we will consider extending the series to ISSI’s other fields of space science.

A second tool that we will be experimenting with is called the Tea(m) Time Tuesday. We will give ISSI teams the opportunity to meet amongst themselves and with ISSI scientists around tea time on Tuesdays to discuss their project. And, as a third experiment, we will be giving International Teams 25 seconds (in commemoration of the 25 years of ISSI) to present their science on ISSI’s website. So, stay tuned and watch our website for upcoming news and events!

In other developments at ISSI, we had what we now call a hybrid-meeting (partly in person, partly from remote) of the Board of Trustees in June. Among the important decisions taken was an extension of the present 25thbusiness year to get the ISSI business year in synch with the calendar year. Up to this year, ISSI business years were running from July to June, they will now run from January to December. Moreover, the Board, observing that open access was increasingly called for by scientists and funding agencies, gave the ISSI directorate a mandate to negotiate open access for ISSI’s publications.   

Let me close by reemphasizing my hope that you and your loved ones stay safe. Our thoughts and sympathies continue to be with those all over the world hit by COVID 19!

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

Tilman Spohn

ISSI executive Director

Saturn’s Huge Moon Titan Drifting Away Faster Than Previously Thought

Report from ISSI Team #411 The ENCELADE Team: Constraining the Dynamical Timescale and Internal Processes of the Saturn and Jupiter Systems from Astrometry led by V. Lainey

Did you know that the Earth’s moon distance is increasing at about 3.8 cm/year because of the tides the Moon raises on our own planet? Thanks to Newton and his law of gravity, entailed the proper explanation of tides: the side of the Earth that is closer to the Moon is more attracted than its opposite side. As a consequence, the Earth takes an elongated shape like a football. Distance increase comes then as a consequence of friction inside the oceans essentially. Both shape distortion and orbital variation rate are expected to get significantly lower with distance, since tides are a consequence of gravitation.

A giant of a moon appears before a giant of a planet undergoing seasonal changes in this natural color view of Titan and Saturn from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

Since tidal theory is universal, researchers have applied it over the last 50 years to predict the orbital evolution of many moons. From the evolution of the four big Galilean satellites of Jupiter to the small moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos, the same theory was used underneath. Recently and in the context of the Cassini mission, the ISSI ENCELADE Team led by Valery Lainey in collaboration with a team from the University of Bologna tried to quantify from observations the orbital expansion of Titan, the largest Saturnian moon, under Saturn’s tides. Surprisingly, they found that Titan is escaping Saturn’s gravity at a large pace of 11 cm/year, more than a hundred times faster than expected from theoretical models. Even more surprising, such expansion rate is larger than for moons closer to Saturn, in complete contradiction with classical tidal theory! But the study demonstrates a perfect agreement with the prediction of a new tidal mechanism, suggested only four years ago by Jim Fuller (Caltech) and co-authors. Such so-called “tidal lock mechanism” suggests that Titan may have formed way closer to Saturn, than commonly believed. This result brings an important new piece of the puzzle for the highly debated question of the age of the Saturnian system.

Like the classical tidal theory for terrestrial objects, tidal lock mechanism is a universal physical mechanism for giant planets. In principle, it could be at play in way other systems were giant planets are involved, starting with the Jupiter system itself.

More Information can be found here: News Release June 8, 2020, NASA JPL Caltech >>

Lainey, V., Casajus, L.G., Fuller, J. et al. Resonance locking in giant planets indicated by the rapid orbital expansion of Titan, Nature Astronomy, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-020-1120-5

New selected International Teams in Space and Earth Sciences 2020

Thirty-two International Teams have been selected by the ISSI Science Committee for implementation from the proposals received in response to the 2020 call. 

As one of ISSI’s and ISSI-BJ’s tools, International Teams of up to 15 scientists address specific self-defined problems in the Space and Earth Sciences, analyzing data and comparing these with models and theories. The teams  work together in an efficient and flexible format with typically 2-3 one-week meetings over two years. The results of the studies are published in the peer-reviewed literature.  

New International Teams 2020 >>

Interviews with Weiqing Han and Sabine Schindler – Johannes Geiss Fellows 2020

Prof. Weiqing Han, University of Colorado at Boulder, USA and Prof. Sabine Schindler, University of Innsbruck, Austria have been elected as the 2020 Johannes Geiss Fellows. Prof. Weiqing Han is a world-renowned oceanographer who specializes in Global Sea Level Change, in particular, in coastal regions. Prof. Sabine Schindler is a highly recognized astrophysicist who specializes in the observation and modeling of galaxies and galaxy clusters. We have tele-interviewed both, asking a few questions about their upcoming fellowships at ISSI.

Prof. Han, Prof. Schindler, first of all, congratulations on your election as the Johannes Geiss Fellows 2020! What was your motivation to apply for the Johannes Geiss Fellowship at the International Space Science Institute? And have you already made plans when you will visit ISSI?

Weiqing Han:  The ISSI has been doing and leading active research in global and regional sea level variability and change, which fits my research interest and has been one of my major research focuses in the past decade. The motivation of my application is to establish collaboration with ISSI, and hope that by combining our effort and working in a simulating environment we can more effectively achieve our research goal.

Sabine Schindler: The International Space Science Institute is well known in the community – and well known to
me – as an excellent place for networking and communication in space science. To spend my sabbatical there with a Johannes Geiss Fellowship seemed ideal to me to expand the connections  to the space science community and to the Swiss universities. I am very happy, that this Fellowship was awarded to me and I am looking forward to my stay in Bern. I plan to start my visit in November.

Could you describe your scientific project(s) on which you plan to work during your visit to ISSI?

Weiqing Han: Rapid sea level rise is one of the most consequential impacts of the warming climate, exerting threats to human society in low-lying coastal areas and island nations. The observed rates of sea level change in the past few decades and century, however, have large spatial differences due to a complex mix of natural and anthropogenic factors. During my proposed visits to ISSI, I plan to investigate the effects of continental shelf and slope on coastal sea level signals that originate from open ocean. This area of research is important, because coastal bathymetry plays a crucial role in accurately depicting open-ocean impact on coastal sea level during historic periods and for future projections. Yet, this information is extremely limited due to the lack of high-resolution, basin-scale datasets and model experiments that can adequately resolve continental shelf and slope.

Firstly, we will analyze tide gauge observations, gridded satellite altimetry data, coastal altimetry data, together with reconstructed and reanalysis sea level products, to understand in which coastal areas a large amount of interior ocean signals can arrive at and be trapped to the coasts. While tide gauges are right on the coasts, altimeter data are contaminated by lands near the coasts. Therefore, the location of altimeter data may be a few tends of kilometers offshore from the tide gauge location. Secondly, we will  analyze large ensemble (LE) and CMIP6 climate model historic simulations, comparing the relatively coarse resolution model results with those of finer resolution ones, which can better represent continental shelf and slope.

Sabine Schindler: I plan to work on extragalactic astrophysics. I have a special interest in galaxies and galaxy clusters for two reasons:Firstly, for the physical processes and interactions that determine their evolution and secondly, for their cosmological applications. I plan to do observations as well as numerical simulations to do study these topics. I furthermore intend to do some interdisciplinary research, if something interesting is coming up in my discussions with the colleagues. I will keep my eyes open in this respect.

Prof. Schindler, is there a particular galaxy (or galaxies) you plan to focus on? And if so, why this particular one?

Sabine Schindler: I usually focus on processes, like e.g. ram-pressure stripping in galaxies or metal enrichment in galaxy clusters. I then select my targets according to the best suitability for a particular question.

Have you been to Switzerland and what – in addition to ISSI – makes Bern appealing to you for a visit?

Weiqing Han: In 2015 and 2018, I was invited to attend the sea level workshops organized and hosted by ISSI, Dr. Anny Cazenave from ISSI and Dr. Detlef Stammer from the U. of Hamburg, which aimed to tackle important but challenging issues toward understanding and projecting global (2015 meeting) and coastal (2018 meeting) sea level changes. On my side, the outcomes of the two meetings are that I led two review articles that were published in Surveys in Geophysics, one for climate modes’ impacts on spatially uneven sea level changes in the world’s oceans (published in 2017) and the other, focuses on impacts on coastal ocean (published in 2019).

Sabine Schindler: I have been to Switzerland before, both for work and for pleasure. I have enjoyed both. There is a very interesting astrophysical community in Switzerland, that I plan to visit. I have also been to Bern before, which I liked very much as a city.

Prof. Weiqing Han, University of Colorado at Boulder, USA                     
Prof. Sabine Schindler, University of Innsbruck, Austria

A Word from the ISSI Executive Director

Dear friends of ISSI,
Dear visitors of our web page,

As you are certainly aware, the COVID-19 crisis is ongoing and although some of the lockdown measures are being lifted or at least alleviated, life is far from having returned to normal. This applies to ISSI as well. Even more, as an international Institute of Advanced Studies, ISSI depends on borders being open and scientists being able to travel!

Of course, we have been considering how we could take better advantage of the chances that working from remote and telecommunication are offering. ISSI committee meetings have been web meetings for two months and will continue for the coming weeks. The Johannes Geiss Fellowship selection has been done remotely, keeping the schedule. As you may have already seen on our web page we have able to select two outstanding scientists, an astronomer and an oceanographer working on Global Change. You are invited to read interviews with the two fellows that will be published on the web in the next few days. ISSI’s science committee is presently evaluating the proposals for International Teams using remote services and the directorate will announce the successful projects in time. ISSI will further improve its technological readiness for tele-meetings by installing hardware that will allow scientists from remote to better follow the discussion in the meeting room.

Conveners of workshops and forums that were originally scheduled to occur in May to August have been offered the opportunity to use telepresence rather than postpone their events. To date, all meeting conveners have emphasized the importance of face-to-face discussion and have decided that they would rather postpone to the fall or next spring. This includes the Venus workshop, the workshop on Strong Gravitational Lensing and that on Magnetic Reconnection as well as the Forum on Ground and Space Astronomy. However, we are committed to have the workshop on the Geophysics of the Deep Earth occurring as the first Workshop after the lockdown. Of, course, it is entirely possible that we will see the first team meeting before that and possibly the first team meeting that will be using remote services. ISSI is committed to provide its service as well as it possibly can and will open as soon as the Swiss authorities allow and as soon as is considered reasonable and safe. Given what is known today, it is likely that certain measures of precaution will be necessary but we are ready to implement what is needed to continue. We are committed to keeping the damage to the program at the lowest possible level!

In the meantime, I hope that you and your loved ones stay safe. You can reach us per email or over the phone at the institute.

Our thoughts and sympathies continue to be with those all over the world hit by COVID 19!

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

Tilman Spohn

ISSI executive Director

Johannes Geiss Fellowship 2020

The International Space Science Institute ISSI is proud to announce

Prof. Weiqing Han, University of Colorado at Boulder, USA


Prof. Sabine Schindler, University of Innsbruck, Austria

as the 2020 Johannes Geiss Fellows.

Prof. Weiqing Han is a world-renowned oceanographer who specializes in Global Sea Level Change, in particular, in coastal regions.

Prof. Sabine Schindler is a highly recognized astrophysicist who specializes in the observation and modeling of galaxies and galaxy clusters. She has been the vice-rector for research of the University of Innsbruck and rector of the University UMIT Hall.

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

ISSI had received more than ten excellent proposals from top level scientists from which the selection committee chose the sixth and seventh JGF recipient after thorough evaluation. The selection committee consisted of the Directors and the Chair of the ISSI Science Committee.

ISSI is honored by the high interest from the science community in the Johannes Geiss Fellowship and would like to deeply thank all applicants.

Obituary Jean-Marie Luton 1942-2020

Jean-Marie Luton (Credit: ESA)

Jean-Marie Luton passed away on 16 April 2020 at the age of 77. He was ESA’s fourth Director General, serving from 1990 to 1997. In that capacity, he was fully involved in the setting-up of ISSI. 

He was born on 4 August 1942, in Chamalières, near Clermont-Ferrand, France. After graduating in engineering from the Ecole Polytechnique in 1961, he joined the aeronomy department of the French national research institute, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). Here he worked in geophysics research and on an experiment for the NASA OGO-6 satellite, launched in June 1969 and designed to study the various interrelationships between, and latitudinal distributions of, high-altitude atmospheric parameters during a period of increased solar activity.

He was appointed special research advisor at the French space agency CNES in 1971, and then seconded to the French Ministry of Industrial and Scientific Development. There he participated in the European negotiations that took place in the framework of the European Space Conference which led to the establishment of ESA in 1975, emerging from its predecessor organizations ESRO and ELDO.

As French delegate to the ESA Council, he also served as the Chairman of ESA’s Administrative and Finance Committee. In February 1989, he was named Director General of CNES, a position he left in October 1990, to take up duty as ESA Director General, succeeding Prof. Reimar Lüst who passed away this year on March 31st .

During Jean-Marie Luton’s terms of office as Director General, ESA conducted several successful space science missions. The Ulysses mission, the Infrared Space Observatory (ISO) and the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) and he first servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope, were all carried out in the 1990s. During this period, Ariane 4 also successfully launched Meteosat-5 and -6 as well as ERS-1 and -2. He was of great help in resurrecting the Cluster mission which was destroyed during the launch of the first Ariane5 launcher.

When he joined ESA in 1990, he was fully involved in the negotiations with Switzerland to create ISSI, and had frequent meetings with Johannes Geiss, Peter Creola then Swiss delegate to the ESA council and Hans-Peter Schneiter President of the Pro ISSI Foundation. His very positive support to the concept of ISSI and the friendly relationship he developed with his scientific colleagues and administrative Swiss friends until he left ESA in 1997, when he becomes President and Director General of Arianespace, were crucial to quickly create and develop ISSI in its very early days.  

Through his important role in the establishment of ISSI and his long-lasting involvement in the development of European space and Earth science, Jean-Marie Luton has offered to the European and International space research community an essential support, allowing them to take full benefit of ISSI, in a broad field of scientific disciplines, in Solar System exploration, astronomy and Earth sciences.

Roger-Maurice Bonnet, International Space Science Institute