Creating an Erasmus Mundus master’s degree in Planetary Geosciences is the objective of the “GeoPlaNetSP” project, which brings together in consortium several European universities, namely the universities of Coimbra, Porto, Nantes, Padua and Chieti/Pescara.
In order to create the conditions to have the new master’s degree in operation in the academic year 2022/2023, the consortium will strengthen and deepen relationships through the creation, use and sharing of innovative technologies in the teaching of planetary geosciences, aimed at strengthening academic excellence in this area. of knowledge.
To this end, it obtained a financing of 263 thousand euros from the European Union under the “Erasmus + Strategic Partnership for higher education” program. This amount will allow the exchange of professors and students, “for teaching activities integrated in the master’s degrees already existing in each of the partner institutions.
The activities, which also involve ESA and local technology companies for space, have as main themes the employability and innovative teaching practices in the area of space sciences, as well as habitability and geological mapping in planetary analogues”, affirm Alexandra Pais, Fernando Carlos Lopes, João Fernandes and José Pinto da Cunha, professors from the Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Coimbra (FCTUC) involved in the project.
The professors stress that the planetary geosciences aim essentially at the knowledge of the planets of the solar system, “in particular the planets that are rocky like the Earth (Mercury, Venus and Mars), as well as the respective natural satellites. In this context, the techniques and technologies used on Earth are adapted to these stars. Thus, the Planetary Geosciences offer a possibility to test models of formation of the solar system and to reach a more integrated knowledge about the composition, structure and evolution of the planets”.
On the other hand, they add, “at a time when it is expected (on a scale of time less than a century) to conduct manned interplanetary journeys, the preparation of these missions will require up-to-date knowledge of the nature of the planets we wish to visit”.
The “GeoPlaNet-SP” project also has the collaboration of a French technology-based company – VR2Planets -, which works in the area of virtual reality, and is part of a broader network that brings together two dozen institutions and research laboratories from 16 countries.
This network, which was born in 2017, at the initiative of the Laboratoire de Planétologie et de Géodynamique of the University of Nantes, focuses on interaction and collaboration between researchers in the promotion of planetary geosciences (in Europe) and has been part of the Center for Land and Space Research at the University of Coimbra (CITEUC).
UC’s participation in this consortium is based on the study plan of the Master in Astrophysics and Instrumentation for Space and the participation of technological companies linked to space, with which this Master has been collaborating.