Mathematical Physics

Prof. Andrea Milani Comparetti (Professor) (web: http://copernico.dm.unipi.it/~milani)
Dott. Giovanni Federico Gronchi (Researcher) (web: http://adams.dm.unipi.it/~gronchi)
Dott. Giacomo Tommei (Researcher) (web: http://www.dm.unipi.it/~tommei)

Dott. Giulio Bau' (Research Fellow)
Dott. Fabrizio De Marchi (Research Fellow)
Dott.ssa Giulia Schettino (Research Fellow)
Dott. Stefano Maro' (Research Fellow)

Dott. Daniele Serra (PhD Student)
Dott.ssa Helene Ma (PhD Student)

External collaborators

Dott. Zoran Knezevic (Belgrade Observatory, Serbia, web: http://zoran.aob.rs/)
Dott. Giovanni Battista Valsecchi (INAF-IAPS, Roma)
Dott. Alessandro Rossi (IFAC-CNR, Firenze)
Dott.ssa Elisa Maria Alessi (IFAC-CNR, Firenze)

Spin-off

SpaceDyS s.r.l. (Polo Tecnologico di Navacchio, web: www.spacedys.com)

RESEARCH PROJECTS:

-THE DYNAMICS OF NEAR-EARTH ASTEROIDS AND MONITORING OF IMPACTS WITH THE EARTH

The Celestial Mechanics Group have been studying the dynamics of near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) for nearly twenty years. They have developed algorithms to ascertain whether one of these dangerous asteroids might impact with Earth in the future. These algorithms are implemented in a software called CLOMON2 which processes, on a daily basis, the observational data from observatories worldwide by calculating the orbits of objects and their uncertainty. The output of this software is available on the NEODyS website (web: http://newton.dm.unipi.it/neodys) which the Celestial Mechanics Group operates, together with the spin-off SpaceDyS, and is sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA). A topic of current research is that of so-called "immediate impactors": understanding, from a very small number of observations of any object of an asteroidal nature (often not sufficient to calculate an orbit), whether there is a chance that this object will impact with the Earth in a matter of days or weeks.
People involved in this project: A. Milani, G. Tommei, G.B. Valsecchi

- THE DYNAMICS OF MAIN-BELT ASTEROIDS AND ASTEROID FAMILIES

The Celestial Mechanics Group has, for almost thirty years, been observing the dynamics of asteroids orbiting between Mars and Jupiter and is responsible for the online service AstDyS (http://hamilton.dm.unipi.it/astdys/). AstDyS contains data on numbered and multi-opposition asteroids, including orbital elements and their uncertainty, proper orbital elements, ephemeris with uncertainty, and much more. A topic of current research is related to the problem of how to classify the asteroid families.
People involved in this project: A. Milani, G.F. Gronchi, Z. Knezevic

-MODELS AND MATHEMATICAL METHODS FOR THE DATA ANALYSIS OF INTERPLANETARY TRACKING

The Celestial Mechanics Group is involved in three research projects whose common denominator is radio-science. Radio-science means the achievement of scientific objectives by analysing the tracking data from an interplanetary probe - objectives such as determining the gravity field of a planet, securing its state of rotation and its internal structure or testing theories of gravitation. The three research projects are related to three separate space missions (BepiColombo, Juno and JUICE) and are funded by the Italian Space Agency (ASI). BepiColombo is a European Space Agency (ESA) mission, to be launched in 2017, whose objective is the in-depth exploration of the planet Mercury. Only two NASA missions up to now have targeted Mercury: Mariner 10 (1974-1975) and Messenger, which performed flybys in January and October 2008, September 2009, and also began a yearlong orbiting phase in March 2011. The BepiColombo mission consists of two spacecraft to be put into orbit around Mercury. The Radio Science Experiment (RSE) coordinates experiments of gravimetry, rotation and relativity. The Celestial Mechanics Group is developing a code for orbital determination and parameter estimation, which will be used for MORE (Mercury Orbiter Radioscience Experiment). Various simulations are currently being carried out to prove that the mission is able to meet the following scientific objectives - a better understanding of the gravitational field of Mercury and its state of rotation, a test of general relativity and the improvement of the planetary ephemeris. Juno is a NASA mission, launched on August 5th 2011, which will arrive in orbit around the planet Jupiter in 2016: The objective of Juno is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter. Juno will produce global maps of gravity and magnetic fields, and will study the atmospheric composition, by means of a polar orbit with an extremely close pericentre. The University of Pisa, through the Italian Space Agency (ASI), which signed an agreement with NASA, has the task of developing the code for orbital determination and parameter estimation for the data analysis of Juno. JUICE - Jupiter Icy moons Explorer - is the first "large" mission of the ESA Cosmic Vision programme 2015-2025. The launch is scheduled for 2022 and will arrive at Jupiter in 2030. The aim is to carry out at least three years of detailed observations of the giant planet and three of its largest moons, Ganymede, Callisto and Europa. The Celestial Mechanics Group will study the possibility of determining some dynamic environmental parameters of Jupiter using the JUICE tracking data and will develop specific software for this task.

People involved in this project: A. Milani, G. Tommei, F. De Marchi, G. Schettino, D. Serra

-STARDUST (web: http://www.strath.ac.uk/stardust/)

Stardust is a European network of training and research dedicated to the study and development of techniques for monitoring asteroids and space debris, for the removal of debris and the deflection of asteroids. Stardust is designed to train the next generation of scientists and engineers who will protect our planet, protect our space resources and transform into an opportunity the threat posed by asteroids and space debris. Stardust will push the boundaries of space research with innovative ideas and visionary concepts. The research project will integrate various disciplines, from robotics to applied mathematics, from computational intelligence to astrodynamics, to find practical and effective solutions to the problem of dangerous asteroids and space debris. The Celestial Mechanics Group is a "Full Partner" of the network and has two internal "Early Stage Researchers": Stefano Marò and Helene Ma. Stefano Marò deals with the search for efficient algorithms for determining asteroidal orbits and the study of MOID for impact risk analysis. Helene Ma deals with the search for efficient algorithms for orbital determination of space debris using radar observations and also researches the possibility of collisions within the population of space debris.
People involved in this project: G.F.Gronchi, A. Milani, S. Marò, H. Ma