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

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