Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory

Space activities


These activities mainly concern electronics and electro-optics systems and SW development, related to both instrument management and scientific data processing (e.g. pipelines, quick-look analysis tools, etc.). The Team relies on past experiences concerning the design, development, manufacturing and AIV/AIT activities on rockets and sub-orbital mission (e.g. SCORE - Sounding COronagraphic Experiment), deep-space missions like Solar Orbiter (METIS Coronagraph) and technological developments for space applications, as the PROBA-3 payload (SPS – Shadow Positioning Sensors). Presently, the Team is fully involved in the design and development of the PLATO and Ariel missions Payloads, aimed at the discovery and characterization of exoplanets and other Solar Systems beyond our own, in the framework of the ESA’s Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 Program. In particular:

  • PLATO (PLAnetary Transits and Oscillation of stars): it is the third medium-class mission (M3) in ESA's Cosmic Vision program. Its objective is to find and study a large number of extrasolar planetary systems, with emphasis on the properties of terrestrial planets in the habitable zone around solar-like stars. PLATO has also been designed to investigate seismic activity in stars, enabling the precise characterization of the planet host star, including its age.
  • ARIEL (Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey): it has been selected and then adopted in November 2020, as the fourth medium-class mission (M4) for the ESA's Cosmic Vision program. It will study what exoplanets are made of, how they formed and how they evolve, by surveying a diverse sample of about 1000 warm and hot extrasolar planets, simultaneously in visible and infrared wavelengths. It is the first mission dedicated to measuring the chemical composition and thermal structures of hundreds of transiting exoplanets, enabling planetary science far beyond the boundaries of the Solar System. 

For more information: Mauro Focardi This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.