Welcome to Luciano Iess's Homepage

On the left: the BepiColombo spacecraft, the MORE - Mercury Orbiter Radioscience Experiment - logo and team. BepiColombo is an ESA mission dedicated to the exploratcion of Mercury. Launch: 2014.


**** Exams 3-5 June 2019


- 3 June 9:00 Space Environment MCT

Meet your professor in front of his office.

Exams will start at 9:45 and continue on 5 June.

You have to take this MCT if you wish to sign in for the 24 June oral exam. 


- 5 June 9:00 Space Missions and Systems MCT

Meet your professor in front of his office.

Exams will start at 9:45.

You have to take this MCT if you wish to sign in for the 24 June oral exam.

**** 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) 


Challenge 2019 - download the zip file here.

Email a working computer code (Matlab is recommended) and a short note (a pdf file) with the mathematical procedure, results, comments, and figures by Monday 29 April 23:59:59 CET to luciano.iess@uniroma1.it AND gael.cascioli@uniroma1.it AND daniele.durante@uniroma1.it.

The challenge gives the opportunity to increase your grade at the exam:

Winner: +3 points 

Two second places: + 2 points 

Three third places: + 1 point 

It is highly instructive for everyone. I strongly recommend to give it a try.

The challenge is considered a valid replacement for Homework #1 if the first question is answered correctly. All students with  "Pass * " in Homework #1 must do it. Students with "Fail * " can try the challenge and gain points, but will not have access to the exam in simplified mode.


1) The MVE requested in the second question refers to the full data set, not just the first pass.


NEW: Fellowship opportunities in North America for master degree students (8/4/2019):



NEW: Work and stage opportunities - see link on the left. (27/3/2019). 


**** Space Missions and Systems 2018/2019 - Homework #1:


Students with ID 1716030, 1666591 and 1668227 passed Homework #1.

Click here to download the test (zip file). 

The solution (a pdf file) and the source code must be emailed by Wednesday  3 April 23:59:59 UTC to luciano.iess@uniroma1.it  AND gael.cascioli@uniroma1.it AND daniele.durante@uniroma1.it.  


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

Should you need clarifications, send me an email. I will answer only through the website.


1) As explained on the side, the angle lambda_0 shown in the figure is arbitrary (generic).

2) How shall I treat the lack of continuity in the data (multiple emails)? Answer: Nobody can expect that tracking data are continuous in a real situation. Address the lack of continuity to the best of your knowledge.

3) Only upper limits are given on range and range rate (differently from previous homeworks). Answer: This should not be a problem, as we discussed many time how to find the real measurement accuracy and use it. (Obviously, homeworks are different from each other.)

4) "Compute and plot the orbital energy of the spacecraft orbit over time". We have not specified a time interval. It's your choice. Make it interesting!  



Please read the Exams section (link on the left) for important changes in the Multiple Choice Test (26 February 2018)







**** Homework #2 (2017/2018) and admission to the exam in easy mode

UPDATED LIST of students admitted to the exam in "easy mode".

Note: Student with ID 1452735 is admitted in easy mode. He was erroneously missing from the list. 

Students whose name is associated with a (*) must contact the teacher. They will need to take the multiple choice test prior to the oral exam.



**** Space Missions and Systems 2017/2018 - Homework #1:

Results (Pass/Fail - pdf file)  (updated 19 April 00:05) 

Download an example of a well written solution report.

You find here the matrices H and Htilde for range (first four columns) and range rate observables (last four columns). The structure of the files is therefore:

[time, drho/dx, drho/dy, drho/du, drho/dv, drhodot/dx, drhodot/dy, drhodot/du, drhodot/dv] 

This may help you spotting the errors in your code.


- A code using Matlab's numerical integrator ODE113 has been posted in the page Class Notes 


*** 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)

Teimareh Petroglyphs and Star Trails