Interview with Joel Núñez, Co-Founder of ExoEstrato, Andalusian Society of Astrogeology

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

Please meet Joel Núñez, one of the founders and promoters of ExoEstrato, a young association whose members are lovers of Astronomy and Planetary Sciences. ExoEstrato is supported by the Andalusian Society of Astrogeology in Granada in Andalusia, Spain.

The founders explain the reasons for the ExoEstrato. "Due to the scarcity of projects related to Planetary Geology in the spanish universities, we have decided to start this project, with the idea of disseminating, educating other people and research in the fascinating and transcendent field of Astrogeology. In spite of our short journey as an institution, we have already organized and carried out a significant number of activities, from public astronomical observations to conference cycles, including the organization of the I Course on Introduction to Astrogeology at the University of Granada, which will take place next month, or the upcoming launch of EXOJOURNAL, an astrogeological magazine. We also plan to organize this summer, with a view to develop it in the end of 2018, the I Andalusian Congress of Young Astrogeologists (CAJA, in spanish), proposing an attractive program of activities and inviting several speakers specialized in astrogeological issues."

What is your name and your background?

My name is Joel, and I am a child. Yes, you read well: despite being, in May 2019, 25 years old, I continue being a child. The same one that was dazzled watching the series Cosmos by Carl Sagan, or who stacked piles of Astronomy books on his nightstand, before looking out the window with the intention of count stars. All the experiences I have lived and starred as a child have marked me to the point of define my future in the short and medium term, and why not, for the rest of my days. They are the things that have led me to study, among other things, Astronomy and Geology. And they are, first of all, the things that have impulsed me to transmit those transcendent knowledge to people, which is one of my greatest passions.

How did you get involved in astrogeology?

In my university there is practically nothing related to Astrogeology, which is a multidisciplinary branch of Science that I have always considered very transcendent: our planet is part of the rocky universe, and the rocky universe is so big that it deserves a place in the academic formation of people. For this reason, I have co-founded with my partners the first national association of Astrogeol ogy, whose branches of action are divided into three fundamental vertices: research, academic training and (social) scientific dissemination.

Why are you interested in astrogeology? What is your ultimate goal?

As I said, Astrogeology seems fundamental to me. For example, it would be absurd if it was an engineer or an astrophysicist, instead of an astrogeologist, who carried out a lithological study of the surface of Mars, or the mapping of the frozen landscape of Europe. In my opinion, Science works when each professional takes its place, synergies are established and a common objective is pursued.

For me, Astrogeology is one of the sciences of the present and the future. The more and more discoveries made in the Solar System about rocky features, and the more and more discoveries of candidates to exoearths in our galaxy, raises an urgent need of the Astrogeology development, without counting the future projects that consider the colonization of other rocky worlds from the Solar System.

Regarding my last goals, these are the writing of EXOJOURNAL, the first spanish magazine of Astrogeology, and a research about the geological characterization of Exoplanets.

What does your society do?

ExoEstrato is a pioneer Association in Spain. As president, I am very proud of everything we have done, we are doing and we plan to do in the near future. We do conferences and conference cycles; courses, workshops and seminars; congresses and symposiums; exhibitions; meetings and popular calls; visits to centers or institutions of study or research and geological and astronomical excursions.

Related to research projects, ExoEstrato has one of Meteoritica and other related to the geological history of Mars, apart of publishing the EXOJOURNAL.

Are you involved in robotics or in sensors used in astrogeology?

I am not specialized in robotics or sensors used in Astrogeology, but ... I would learn without hesitation!

What are your views of exploration of Mars?

"Buzz" Aldrin said: 'Mars is there, waiting to be reached'. Without doubt, Mars is one of the most plausible worlds for its colonization by Humanity in the future. I think that before 2050, there will be a permanent base of scientific research and, why not, ready for the visit of tourist. Maybe it sounds like a Sci-Fi story, but the exponential advance in Spatial Technology that is currently happening, gives to Mars exploration a faborable environment.

About the scientific exploration of Mars, it is currently being very productive thanks to the probes and rovers used. In particular, the 'InSight' mission will provide us with a lot of geophysical data about the planet, which will allow us to answer a lot of questions.

What are your plans for the future?

I want to investigate in Astrogeology of asteroids and moons of the Solar System, and give to the scientific divulgation of Astrogeology the dimensions that this science deserves. About my scientific formation, I hope to do a Doctorate specializing in Astrogeology, maybe in the United States, in order to continue evolving my knowledge, and myself as an human.

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