This start has been wonderful
A great setting in the Alps, 93 participants, and excellent scientific presentations, the General Assembly in Anzère kept all promisses, and marked in many ways a tangible start of our NCCR PlanetS. To ensure the long-term cohesion of this ambitious initiative at the beginning, we need to get to know each other better, to learn about the exciting science the different groups are conducting, to share and discuss new ideas in a stimulating environment.
The General Assembly was thus the first step towards the building up of a team spirit, a key element for the future success of PlanetS. My personal impression is that this start has been wonderful. We have now to keep going and preserve this initial spark of good spirit, and maintain and nurture it in the future.
Brian Schmidt, 2011 Physics Nobel-Prize winner and member of our «Advisory Board» with Michel Mayor, shared with us his experience in a similar «centre of excellence» in Australia. In particular, he repeatedly made the point of teamwork being paramount. PlanetS should not be a set of teams working on a project, but a team working on a set of projects. A team which has to integrate as well all the local and national «planetary» stakeholders. Another challenge mentioned by Brian, and addressed to the leaders of PlanetS, is the importance of involving younger researchers in organisational aspects and responsibilities. They are the ones who will hold the keys of the Swiss Planetary Sciences at the end of the NCCR. We have to think now about the heritage of PlanetS.
If direct contact with young people is important for the promotion of science and especially astronomy, communication in general is fundamental to the healthy life of a large project. The management of PlanetS has therefore opted for a strong communication organisation, setting up an efficient team between Geneva and Bern, placed directly under the responsibility of the head of PlanetS. A team that will be available for everyone, welcoming news, open to collaborations, making itself available for interview or other media contacts. An essential attitude for the soufflé cooked up at the meeting, as nicely imaged by Willy, to still grow bigger.
If there is one thing to remember from the General Assembly and that could somehow summarize the points discussed in this edito, I would vote for the Timm spirit at the Karaoke.
Co-Director NCCR PlanetS