See you in Leiden and Lisbon

After more than two years of online-only talks, I’m back in live programming, starting with moderating the session “To Mars and Beyond” at ESOF2022 on July 14, at 2.15 p.m., in Leiden, Netherlands. Together with astrobiologist Barbara Cavalazzi, planetary geologist Angelo Pio Rossi and ESA’s Senior Strategy Officer Stefaan de Mey, we’ll discuss the future of robotic and crewed Mars exploration. Thanks to Europlanet for giving me the opportunity to engage in ESOF!

It’s also my honor to be the Guest of Honor at this year’s Fórum Fantástico (September 30 – October 2, 2022) in Lisbon, Portugal. There are going to be talks and discussions, readings, an RPG based on my story “Martian Fever”, and possibly more; stay tuned! I’m deeply grateful to the organizers for inviting me.

Needless to say, after two and half years of not traveling anywhere, I’m somewhat nervous; especially as airlines have dropped mask mandates, and as EMA hasn’t certified covid vaccines for children under five yet, so the kids won’t yet be vaccinated before flying to Leiden. Last year, given the relatively fast rollouts for older age groups and data for small children awaited by the end of the year, I expected them to be fully vaccinated by the end of winter… ‘Hoping for the best’ is really not a solution I like, but with no mask mandates, it’s what we’re left with for the first trip. Going alone, though, is not an option with a very attached breastfed child; there is a sense of trepidation as well as very much looking forward to finally showing a small piece of the world to the children. Last time I visited the Netherlands, I was one of the recipients of ESA’s scholarship to attend the IAC, based in Guadalajara that year. Before flying to Mexico as a group of all the awarded students, we each flew to the Netherlands, so I spent a few hours strolling around Leiden before catching the bus to Katwijk. This time, the children will be able to see the beautiful Dutch sceneries. And Lisbon? Can’t wait to explore the city and its surroundings such as Sintra!

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