Introducing the EGU Executive Office

With so many thinking the EGU’s activities are restricted to the organisation and running of the General Assembly, we thought we’d share a behind-the-scenes peek at the team who works year-round to promote the Earth, ocean and planetary sciences and the work of the members of the Union.

The EGU Office Team. From left to right: Philippe, Sarah, Bárbara, Robert, Laura, Christine and Leslie. Skye, in the front, is the energetic EGU office dog. (Credit: Bárbara Ferreira/EGU).

The EGU Office Team. From left to right: Philippe, Sarah, Bárbara, Robert, Laura, Christine and Leslie. Skye, in the front, is the energetic EGU office dog. (Credit: Bárbara Ferreira/EGU).

At the EGU Executive Office in Munich, Germany, you’ll find the Union’s headquarters. With a team of six employees, which grows to seven when a Union Fellow is appointed, the office runs the day-to-day activities of the EGU. We work year-round on assisting the EGU membership, running media and communications activities and the various EGU-related websites, among other activities. In these, we work in close collaboration with Copernicus, our publisher and conference organiser, and with the EGU Council and the various committees.

EGU Executive Secretary Philippe Courtial manages the office. With eight committees, the Union Council and the Executive board, it is also Philippe’s job to liaise between them all and assist them in their activities. Additionally, Philippe champions the work of the EGU and its members amongst our partner associations and by promoting the Union at conferences worldwide.

Robert Barsch is the Union’s Webmaster and System Administrator. He develops and maintains the EGU’s websites, including Imaggeo and the EGU Blogs, while at the same time taking care of the office’s IT needs. Christine Leidel is in charge of the EGU’s bookkeeping and handling travel expenses, while Leslie Todd provides administrative assistance, organises the Union’s business meetings and handles all membership issues. Leslie is also in charge of maintaining the all-important office coffee and biscuit supplies!

Keeping EGU members and other geoscientists, journalists and the broader public abreast of developments throughout the year falls to the EGU Communications Team. Overall coordination of these activities is the job of EGU Media and Communications Manager Bárbara Ferreira. Bárbara produces the EGU news items and press releases, the EGU’s monthly newsletter, and she also takes on the role of press officer at the annual General Assembly. Barbara is assisted by EGU Communications Officer Laura Roberts, who is in charge of the EGU’s online presence, including social media channels and the blogs. Additionally, she is the point of contact in the office for the Union’s early career scientist (ECS) membership.

The newest member of the EGU Office Team is Sarah Connors, the EGU Science Policy Fellow, who joined us in September this year. Sarah will be working to implement science-policy related activities for EGU scientists. You can learn more about Sarah’s role in this blog post.

To learn more about the EGU’s year-round activities why not visit our website? You’ll be able to find out more about some of our media and communications projects here. Our early career members can find information regarding jobs, career prospects, what’s on for the ECS community at the General Assembly, and much more on our dedicated ECS website.

Scientists share new observations from comet-chasing Rosetta Mission

Scientists share new observations from comet-chasing Rosetta Mission

Scientists working on the European Space Agency (ESA) Rosetta Mission provided an update on the comet-chaser and its lander, Philae, at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly last week, as well as sharing new science gained from the duo so far. These new results from Rosetta were announced at a press conference on Tuesday 14 April, with additional research presented at the Rosetta scientific session on Monday and Tuesday. Nikita Marwaha reports on some of these new developments revealed in Vienna.

The team started by reporting on the flightpath of the Rosetta spacecraft: it is currently keeping its distance from Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in an attempt to avoid streams of dust from interfering with its systems. The spacecraft is currently flying in a new orbital trajectory around the comet, following problems that arose when it made a Valentine’s Day flyby. Soaring just 6 km above the comet’s surface, the spacecraft’s star trackers, which enable it to navigate, “were getting confused” by dust close to the comet, said Matt Taylor, Rosetta Project Scientist at ESA.

Last month, Rosetta was forced into safe mode following another flyby which resulted in its navigation systems being compromised once more. As a result, the spacecraft had to rapidly retreat to a distance of 200 km. Taylor commented, “It turns out, it’s actually quite difficult to fly a spacecraft around a comet”.

His team are trying to calculate a safe approach distance for Rosetta to fly around the comet, with the craft currently alternating between pyramid orbits and terminator orbits. These new trajectories fly at a distance of 140 km and then 100 km and will allow the scientists to monitor how the spacecraft behaves before moving closer.

As the comet approaches perihelion – the orbital point closest to the sun – during the summer months, even more dust will stream out from it as it warms up and grows its characteristic tail. Meanwhile, the Rosetta spacecraft is slowly inching closer to its comet companion as scientists keep a watchful eye on it to ensure that its navigation systems are coping well.

Mission scientists also revealed their assessment on the potential existence of a magnetic field in the comet. Sensitive magnetometers on board both Rosetta and its lander Philae, which was dropped on to the surface last November, have collected measurements of their local environment. These instruments could sense not only the magnetic field carried in the solar wind flowing off the Sun, but also their interactions with it as they moved.

Such data from Rosetta and Philae suggests that Comet 67/P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko does not possess a magnetic field of its own. This finding is significant because it answers one of the major questions of the mission – did magnetic fields play a role in pulling together the material that makes up comets like 67P? This evidence suggests it did not.

An artist's impression of Philae detaching from the Rosetta spacecraft. Scientists are currently trying to work out a safe distance from which Rosetta can orbit the comet, whilst waiting for Philae to wake up from hibernation. (Credits: ESA)

An artist’s impression of Philae detaching from the Rosetta spacecraft. Scientists are currently trying to work out a safe distance from which Rosetta can orbit the comet, whilst waiting for Philae to wake up from hibernation. (Credits: ESA)

Other formation processes may have played a significant role in the birth of the early Solar System. Combined measurements from both orbiter and lander such as these provide us with a key insight into the primordial Solar System, and will produce further fruitful results once Philae wakes up from hibernation.

Locating the sleeping lander is a task in progress. It touched down very close to its target point last November, however then bounced to where it lies today. Rosetta scientists explained in the press conference that they have a good understanding of where the lander is but cannot identify it clearly from Rosetta’s imaging system, OSIRIS. They know that Philae is currently surrounded by walls and is sitting in a very dark area, riddled with shadows.

Questions still remain on the lander’s current orientation, why its footprints do not fit the landing gear geometry, why it bounced in a sharp angle and whether its feet hit rock or soft material when landing. Unfortunately, the illumination in the final landing site is very poor, with 1 hour and 20 minutes of sunlight per comet day. As a result, Philae is still in hibernation but scientists are optimistic that it will wake up within the next few weeks.

Stephen Ulamec, Philae Project Manager at German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) said, “In order to wake up, Philae’s solar panels should be sufficient to reboot the lander in the coming weeks”.

He also explained that a series of wake-up campaigns were already being launched, with the last attempt two days prior to the press conference. These campaigns involve periodically switching on Rosetta’s communication unit around the clock, so that once Philae gathers enough energy, its signal will be heard by the orbiter overhead. So far, there has been no contact made with the lander but as the comet approaches the sun, the scientists displayed hope for better news in time.

When asked what Philae waking up would mean to him, Matt Taylor said “Philae waking up is a fundamental part of the story. I see the Rosetta Mission as a kind of a soap opera and Philae is currently the cliffhanger. This can’t be the end.”

Rosetta has gripped the world with its fascinating story. This next stage of the mission is vital to unlocking the secrets of the primordial Solar System, yet for now we must wait patiently for Philae to wake up and join Rosetta in their quest to explore their new rocky world.

By Nikita Marwaha, EGU Press Assistant and EJR-Quartz Editor

Communicate your Science Video Competition finalists: time to get voting!

For the second year in a row we’re running the EGU Communicate Your Science Video Competition – the aim being for young scientists to communicate their research in a short, sweet and public-friendly video. Our judges have now selected 3 fantastic finalists from the excellent entries we received this year and it’s time to find the best geoscience communication clip!

The shortlisted videos will be open to a public vote from now until midnight on 16 Apri; – just ‘like’ the video on YouTube to give it your seal of approval. The video with the most likes when voting closes will be awarded a free registration to the EGU General Assembly 2016.

The finalists are shown below, but you can also catch them in this finalist playlist and even take a seat in GeoCinema – the home of geoscience films at the General Assembly – to see the shortlist and select your favourite.

Please note that only positive votes will be taken into account.

The finalists:

Inside Himalayan Lakes by Zakaria Ghazoui. Like this video to vote for it!


Glacial Mystery by Guillaume Jouvet. Like this video to vote for it!


Floods by Chiara Arrighi. Like this video to vote for it!


The winning entry will be announced during the lunch break on the last day of the General Assembly (Friday 17 April).

Science bloggers – join the 2015 General Assembly blogroll!

Science bloggers – join the 2015 General Assembly blogroll!

Will you be blogging at the 2015 General Assembly? If so, sign up here and we’ll add you to our official blogroll. We will be compiling a list of blogs that feature posts about the EGU General Assembly and making it available on GeoLog, the official blog of the European Geosciences Union.

We’d ask you to write posts that relate directly to the Assembly during the conference in Vienna (12 – 17 April). The content of each blog on this list is the responsibility of the authors and is not sanctioned by the EGU, but we will make details of all the blogs on the General Assembly blogroll available online.

If you would like your blog to feature on our list, please submit your blog details to us.

In addition to the wealth of interesting new research that will be presented at the scientific sessions, the Media and Communications team have organised press conferences to highlight some of this research to the press and media participants at the conference. The press conference programme will be available a few weeks before the start of the General Assembly. Should you spot something there that might inspire you to blog, it might be useful to know that there are limited spots available upon request for scientists who are bloggers or science writers who may wish to attend press conferences. Please email EGU Media and Communications Manager Bárbara Ferreira at before 10 April if you are interested.

With free (and open!) wireless internet and plugin points available throughout the building and great science throughout the week; we’ve got everything you need to get blogging! International plug adapters can even be borrowed from the Austria Center Information Desk!

GeoLog will also be updated regularly during the General Assembly, featuring posts about scientific sessions, conference highlights and interviews with scientists at the meeting. Please contact the Communications Officer, Laura Roberts Artal, for any questions you might have about the blogroll.



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