Welcome to Luciano Iess's Homepage

On the left: the JUNO mission (NASA) was launched on 5 agosto 2011 and it will orbit around Jupiter till 2021 and beyond. Its main purposes are the study of the atmosphere and the interior structure of the planet. Centre: artist view of the Cassini and Huygens probes at Saturn. Right: Saturn almost at equinox, as seen from Cassini (ISS Cassini).



SMS = Space Missions and Systems

SA = Space Environment 


We will make use of Google Classroom in the near future. Please accept the invitation you have received. Also, notify me if you were invited by mistake or if you have not received the invitation even if you qualify.


**** Space Missions and Systems 2019/2020 - Homework #1:

Click here to download the test (zip file)

The solution (a pdf file) and the source code must be uploaded by Sunday 5 April 23:59:59 CEST  on Google Classroom. If you have troubles with Classroom (and only in this case), the solution may be emailed to luciano.iess@uniroma1.it AND gael.cascioli@uniroma1.it AND daniele.durante@uniroma1.it. NO EXCEPTIONS!

Suggestions and remarks: Be concise and go right to the point. Plots convey information very effectively. Including a working source code is mandatory.


1) If you think data are missing in the text, just use reasonable values. Do not overconstrain a quantity. 

2) The sentence "neglect the effects of the finite Earth-Sun distance" means that you may assume the solar rays to be always parallel to the x-direction.



For SMS students:

The Challenge will be published on this website on 17 April at 12:00. Deadline for delivery by email is 19 April 23:59 CEST. Winner: +3 points at the exam; two second places: +2 points; three third places: +1 point.


Important message for students of the Space Missions and Systems:

The link for all Google Meet classes is always the same:


Please turn off your cameras and mute your microphones (unless you wish to ask a question). Monday's class will be again on Youtube.

The video of the exercise on Kalman filter and the Earth orbiter (19 March 2020) is available on Google Classroom for DOWNLOAD (most of you won't be able to play it directly)


The video will NOT be uploaded on Youtube, at least for now.

The Matlab file are available in the Class Notes/Space Missions and Systems/Supporting Material folder.


Notice: the updated version of the file "Normal_Distributions.pdf" is available online in the directory "Supporting_Material"


Important information to all Space Environment and Space Missions and Systems students:


Following the suspension of all in-class teaching activities till 15 March, we will continue the courses remotely on my Youtube streaming channel. This will enable some progress during this emergency situation.

Classes will resume online Monday 9 March, with the usual schedule:

Space Missions and Systems:

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 10:00-12:00

Thursday: 12:00-14:00

Space Environment:

Monday: 12:00-13:00

Tuesday: 8:00-10:00

Thursday: 10:00-12:00


To attend the classes in streaming:

Click here to access my Youtube channel

(otherwise copy&paste the following link in your browser:


The videos are not immediately available for viewing after the streaming session is terminated. You'll have to wait about one hour grace time to be able to view it. 


To ask questions, please use the chat available on the main page (give some try beforehands).

Alternatively, for more elaborate questions, give me a skype call. I'll have skype active on my laptop. My skypeid is luciano_diaa1.

Please visit this website for updates.

This is all experimental. If you have suggestions on better ways to continue the course, do not hesitate to contact me.

Luciano Iess


Exams on 13 March 2020 will be deferred to a later date (still TBD)

Our apologies for the inconvenience. The text below is valid for the future date ...

We will meet in front of my office at 9:45 for the Multiple Choice Test (MCT). Oral exams will start with Space Missions and Systems (SMS), then Space Environment (SE).

MCT at 9:45, teacher's office (SE students and SMS students not qualifying for exams in "easy mode".)

Space Missions and Systems (SMS) - Start at 10:00, teacher's office.

Space Environment (SE) - Start presumably after 14:00, teacher's office.

Should you decide not to take the exam, please send me an email well in advance. No shows mess up the planned sequence of exams. 

Visit the website for updates!


STAGE AND THESIS - NEW OPPORTUNITIES (updated 8 May 2020) - See link on the left 


Space Missions and Systems class 12 March 2020

Using the Matlab code and the concepts you learned during the course, answer the following questions:

1) Which observables are most sensitive to x_0?

2) Which observables are most sensitive to v_0?

3) How does the state accuracy (standatd deviation) vary with h? Make a plot or a table.

4) Try to change one of the model parameters (k_1,k_2,m). Does the filter converge? Why?

5) Implement the MVE in the Spring-Mass Matlab script.

6) How do the standard deviations of the estimated state variables change?

7) Try to simulate your own observed observables (you can find the code in the file “spring_main_batch.m”

8) Using only one type of observables at a time, what is the maximum level of noise that guarrantees convergence?

The spring-mass Matlab code has been uploaded in the folder "Class Notes"/"Space Missions and Systems"/"Supplementary Material".

The previous version is also available in the same folder. There the observable quantities are generated in the matlab code. You can play with the noise level.  



NEW: Work and stage opportunities - see link on the left. (21/5/2019).



**** Space Missions and Systems 2018/2019 - Challenge


2 points: Proietti, Musacchio

1 point: Leonardi, Tramutola, Collettini

Congratulations to the winners and all participants! There were many good solutions. My collaborators and I are very happy of the overall outcome, as the problem was not easy. Unfortunately nobody assigned the correct weights to the data, so the first prize (3 points) could not be awarded.

The challenge is a valid replacement for Homework #1 for:

Carfora, Coppola, Farisei, Ferrari, Giuliani, Lambertini, Lisi, Pianalto.

Please take note of the changes - (5 May 15:36) 





*** Plumbing the depth of Jupiter's winds 

Here is the link to the recent paper on Nature and some of its echoes in the news:

Iess et al. "Measurement of Jupiter's asymmetric gravity field", Nature, 555, 220-222 (2018)   

Nature Editorial

Nature Research highlights 


International coverage

NASA web site 

Scientific American (really good) 


New York Times 

Los Angeles Times 

Fox News 


America Space 

ABC News - MSN 

The Hindustan Times (India)

IFL Science 


Coverage in Italy


La Repubblica 

Le Scienze 

Il Tempo


Sapienza University of Rome



Challenge 2016-2017: Results

Benedicter 3 pt

Di Stefano 2 pt

Moscianese 2 pt

Cascioli 1 pt

De Grossi 1 pt

Frezza 1 pt

The challenge is considered as a valid replacement for HW#1 for Capozzi, Foschi, Kappers, and Trinca.

Congratulations to all participants! 


*** Short course on Matlab:  Download the full zip file here 

(This is all the material shown in both days).



Luciano Iess: "The Attraction of Gravity" - Jean Dominique Cassini Medal Lecture at the European Geosciences Union - Vienna, April 25, 2017. Video recording



*** New supporting material:

Matlab codes for batch and sequential estimation (spring-mass system) in Class Notes - Supporting Material


*** Second home test 2016 (updated lists!!):


Students admitted to the exam in fast mode


*** Challenge 2016 - Winners 

- Martini: 2 pt

- Cappuccio: 1 pt

Congratulations to all participants! 


*** An interesting link: Cassini behind the scenes


**** Space Missions and Systems

Matlab code for the coherent demodulator





For updated information you may follow me on Twitter (luciano_iess)


*** Seminars at Beijing Institute of Tracking and Telecommunications Technology (BITTT):

Seminar 1: Deep Space Navigation Systems: Where Do We Stand?

Seminar 2: The European Delta-DOR Correlator

Seminar 3: BepiColombo, the ESA Mission To Mercury; MORE: Geodesy, Geophysics, Navigation

Seminar 4 and 5: The Scientific Use of Deep Space Tracking Systems; Radio Science in Deep Space Missions

***Tour of Robledo's DNS facilities. The visit to the Robledo and Cebreros tracking complexes was an interesting and profitable experience for all of us. Follow the link to see some photos. 


Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)

Saturn in the Infrared