ERC Starting Grant for Edgar Steenstra: “a lifelong dream of mine”

News - 05 September 2023

Edgar Steenstra currently serves as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Münster, Germany, specializing in the geochemistry of terrestrial and planetary samples under high-pressure and high-temperature conditions. With his grant, he will soon become a valuable addition to the faculty of Aerospace Engineering.

New facility

“This ERC Grant truly provides me a unique opportunity to build a research group focused on high-temperature planetary processes, with a particular focus on Venus, which has been a lifelong dream of mine. It is essential for the development of a high temperature/pressure planetary simulation facility that will be used to conduct novel experiments aimed on understanding the evolution of Venus. More specifically, the ERC Grant will allow me to pursue key outstanding research questions related to surface weathering, volcanic degassing and early atmospheric development on Venus. The addition of this facility to the faculty of Aerospace Engineering will also allow for multi-disciplinary experimental research on high-temperature processes on planetary surfaces and in planetary interiors, and to apply such results on (future) planetary exploration missions. Finally, the new infrastructure can be used to systematically study the effect of high-temperature weathering on instruments and other parts of space crafts, e.g. instrument boards.”

Climate evolution on Venus

“My goal is to use high pressure-temperature experiments in conjunction with numerical models to obtain a fundamental understanding of how Venus evolved throughout its history and how it obtained its greenhouse atmosphere. The challenge will be to conduct these novel experiments and to successfully perform both in situ and ex-situ measurements of the processes at play. These novel and much-needed experimental data will be incorporated in numerical models, to systematically assess the nature of long-term climate evolution on Venus, and how Venus evolved so very differently compared to Earth. The measurements will also provide a key framework with which near-future explorative measurements of Venus can be much better understood, such as the timing and nature of recent volcanism on Venus and surface ages.”

Project: Volatile Element Cycles on Venus: Implications for the Evolution of Venus´ Greenhouse-Dominated Atmosphere (VenusVolAtmos)

ERC grant: € 2,228,075 for 5 years

Curiosity of humanity

“The proposed work fundamentally addresses the short- and long-term variability of planetary climates, and therefore, provides key insights into the transition from a ‘regular', habitable atmosphere to a run-away greenhouse atmosphere, as presently exists on Venus. It also addresses the curiosity of humanity related to the formation of the planets in our solar system, and will significantly increase the scientific value of near-future observations of Venus through orbital and atmospheric measurements.”