eLTER Venus meeting: 8 days, 25 sessions and +150 participants

The eLTER Venus meeting* took place online between 7th and 16th of April 2021. Our starship landed on Earth’s neighboring planet after travelling the long way from Mercury where the previous meeting was held in October 2020.

Over 150 people from both consortia of the eLTER PPP and eLTER PLUS projects took part in 25 sessions with the audience for each of them varying between +30 to >150. Naturally, due to the high number of participants and sessions, this presented a significant organizational and logistical challenge which was successfully overcome with the joint efforts of both organisers and participants.

The meeting started with high-profile guest speakers valorizing the framework where an international research infrastructure operates. A great honor for eLTER was the two presentations on expected scientific impacts and overview of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) given by its chair Jan Hrusak and Gelsomina Pappalardo, member of the ESFRI executive board.

Another highlight was the talk by Florian Haslinger (EPOS Seismological cores service coordinator, ETH Zürich) who brought first-hand experiences on working in the European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC), coupled with important advice and insights. In addition, an important and informative presentation was given by TERN's coordinator, Beryl Morris, from the perspective of a continental RI in operation in Australia, highlighting the benefits and services of the RI for its various users.

eLTER structured the programme of the event with the help of WP leads and task leads who led key sessions for concretely progressing in the project work. This aimed at reducing the screen time per day and “zoom-fatigue”, and resulted in a longer overall duration of the meeting – 8 days – but each of them with less intense and time-consuming schedules.

The topics of the sessions varied from "Service Portfolios for stakeholder groups" and “Achievements and highlights from PLUS and PPP”, through “Socio-economic impact” and “Strategic plan”, to “Information Clusters”, “Standard observations”, “Ethics and Equity”, “Whole system research” and others.

The event was very well received by participants. The numerous comments and suggestions during the sessions will help to refine and improve the further development of eLTER. At the end of the Venus meeting, three words stood out to sum up the impressions of the participants and the organising team: tired, motivated and happy. 

Where to now? Given the COVID situation our planet is still not safe. So, we plan on landing on Mars in the autumn 2021, and check how the rover is doing. This will mark a turning point in our adventure: the implementation of pilots for landing on the Tellus will start.

The next meeting is going to present even more challenges because we are planning on opening it up and invite more speakers and guests from outside the eLTER community. Among the topics will be the first results of pilot services and thematic research challenges testing the Whole System approach.

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*In 2020-21, the eLTER consortium meetings have been named according to the planets in our solar system, due to their virtual nature in the COVID-19 era. Once the physical meetings are possible, we’ll return to planet Earth.