Online Seminars: Game Changers

How Missions Change(d) our View of the Solar System

The International Space Science Institute is proud to announce its first online Seminar series in its history. While ISSI’s mission is to provide 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, the Corona crisis has accelerated earlier plans for online tools that may supplement our core in person meeting program.  ISSI hopes that this series will help to bridge the Corona gap in scientific communication and may be continued even after the crisis will be over.  

Artist’s view of Ariane 6 and Vega-C (Image Credit: ESA – D. Ducros)

You can join all Seminars with  this Link for the “Game Changers” ISSI Zoom Sessions >>   

Meeting ID: 852 6990 9362, Password: 459004 

The talks will be recorded and made available for viewing on the ISSI website. 


As a space science institute of advanced studies ISSI regards mission data as one of its major resources. It is therefore fitting to ask to which extent missions are “Game Changers”. After all, many missions left us fully surprised of what we had learned and not expected before!


We will start with a series of lectures on

Game Changers: How Missions Change(d) our View of the Solar System

Next Seminar: “The New Horizons Mission to Pluto and the Outer Solar System” with Alan Stern (SWRI Boulder, USA), August 13, 17:00h CEST

The New Horizons mission – a NASA New Frontiers class mission – was launched early 2006 and was the first to explore the Pluto-Charon binary planet and its satellites, up-close through a six-month long fly-by in 2015. After leaving the Pluto-Charon system, the spacecraft went on to make the first spacecraft exploration of Kuiper belt objects (KBOs). It was eventually targeted to fly-by 486958 Arrokoth (originally nicknamed Ultima Thule) in 2019. The spacecraft is one of only five to have achieved escape velocity from the Solar System. It is possible that the spacecraft will fly by another KBO still to be detected on its way out of the solar system.  

Equipped with a suite of visible, infrared, and ultraviolet remote sensing instruments and plasma and energetic particle spectrometers, as well as a dust impact detector, New Horizons gathered data that revolutionized our understanding of the Pluto-Charon system and Kuiper belt objects. To name a few discoveries, Pluto was found to have actively flowing glaciers covered with nitrogen ice that even control its climate. Pluto is tectonically and volcanically active with icy slush “lava” having poured onto the surface, likely controlled by processes in a subsurface ocean. Even Charon’s surface shows traces of cryo-volcanic activity. Being so far out in the cold reaches of the Solar System, the Pluto-Charon system is a remarkably active world!

Dr. Alan Stern is a researcher at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado and the Chief Scientist of World View, a commercial high-altitude ballooning company. Alan serves as the principal investigator of the New Horizons mission and the lead of the science team. World View has bases in Arizona and Australia, flies payloads for astronomy, planetary astronomy, solar physics, earth observations, and atmospheric studies, and is actively reaching out to connect with scientist interested in flying payload all over the world. To sign up for World View’s research mailing list, go to

Please click on this Link for the Zoom Session >>   Meeting ID: 852 6990 9362, Password: 459004


Save the dates for the further confirmed Game Changers Seminars: 


Mars Express with Ralf Jaumann (Freie Universität, Berlin, Germany), August 20, 17:00h CEST, details will be announced in due time.


Venus Express with Ann C. Vandaele (Institut d’Aeronomie Spatiale de Belgique, Belgium), August 27, 17:00h CEST, details will be announced in due time.


Juno: Revealing the Mysteries of Jupiter with Ravit Helled (University of Zurich, Switzerland), September 10, 17:00h CEST, details will be announced in due time.


Cassini-Huygens at Titan with Athena Coustenis (Observatoire de Paris, Meudon, France), September 17, 17:00h CEST, details will be announced in due time.


Rosetta with Jessica Agarwal (TU Braunschweig, Germany), September 24, 17:00h CEST, details will be announced in due time.


Please not that given the time difference between Tokyo and Bern, the first seminar will be Thursday morning at 11:00. The others will occur at the usual time of 17:00.

We are looking forward to the talks and to your participation and feel free to share with your colleagues.