Open University (OU) research in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) has received a European Commission grant which provides the planetary space community free access to the world’s largest collection of simulation and analysis facilities.
The European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme funded Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI). The OU has been awarded €388,000 as one of the institutional beneficiaries.
The four-year project is led by the University of Kent and provides open access to the world’s largest collection of simulation and analysis facilities. The project will also present a global network of small telescopes, data services, and community support activities. It supports 53 beneficiaries from 21 countries across Europe and beyond.
The unique collection of five field sites and 24 world leading laboratories to simulate and analyse planetary environments are offered under the free ‘transnational access’ (TA) scheme. These include the OU’s School of Physical Science’s (SPS) NanoSIMS, laser fluorination facilities (Dr Ian Franchi) and Mars chambers (Dr Manish Patel), as well as the planetary simulation facilities in AstrobiologyOU.
Dr Karen Olsson-Francis (School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystems), the OU lead for the project, said:
“This is a huge opportunity for the OU to be part of a major research infrastructure that supports the excellent planetary science research happening across Europe and beyond.”
The grant also fits with the OU’s mission, and Dr Vic Pearson (SPS), the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Officer for both the RI project and the Europlanet Society, said that it “provided a way to build a diverse, inclusive planetary science community in Europe and beyond, ensuring that individuals within that community experience equal opportunity, regardless of their circumstances”.
This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 871149.