Planets and Comets
In the last few years most of the international space agencies selected the planet Mercury as the main target of the Solar System exploration for the next 15 years, considering the large efforts in terms of resources and funding for dedicated space missions.
The NASA mission MESSENGER in stable orbit around Mercury from March 2011, after the three flybys with the planet on 2008-2009, has started to provide a large amount of new data supporting and stimulating several new scientific activities.
Our team is working on the geology of Mercury, even in collaboration with the MESSENGER team, and applying our new method for the age determination of planetary surfaces.
Then we are working on the Mercury’s exosphere, in particular on the mechanism source due to the micrometeoroid impacts. This work is based on our dynamical model predicting the meteoroid flux on Mercury and the Earth-Moon system. We can estimate the absolute flux on Mercury according to our new calibration of micrometeoroid flux on Earth, that revised the analysis of the impact craters formed on the space-facing end of the gravity-gradient-stabilized Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) satellite.
Planets and Comets - PAST STUDIES