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 devoted to the scientific exploration of Mercury. Launch: 20 October 2018.



  • SMS = Space Missions and Systems
  • AS = Space Environment 




The course on Space Missions and Systems will start on Tuesday 27 Feb. 




Results of the 2022 Orbit Determination Challenge


Giulia Nejat 2 pt

Andrea Vittori 2 pt

Mariano Conti 1 pt

Paolo Pagnozzi 1 pt

Roberto Santori 1 pt


Congratulations to the winners and all participants, whether you succeeded or not!




Challenge 2021


First place: Pasquale Tartaglia

Second place: Chiara Pazzelli, Ariele Zurria

Third place: Chiara Pozzi, Giuliano Vinci, Alessandro Beolchi


The Challenge is a valid replacement for HW1 for the students in green in this list.


Congratulations to all participants! We received many very good answers. I hope everyone learned something on OD and enjoyed solving the problem.  

Luciano Iess 




Homework 1

Results of HW1 

Color codes:

Green = pass

Red = fail

Yellow = pass, but with some errors. It is strongly advised to do the challenge, answering the first questions (1-2, TBD). The second hpmework must be a "full green".



Observable data file

Deadline: Sunday 11 April 23:59:59. The text and the observable file is also available on Google Classroom. Use Classroom to upload your solution (a pdf file) and working code. If you are not on Classroom, use email (to me and paolo.cappuccio@uniroma1.it). Be concise and go right to the point. A well done set of figures is worth a thousand words. 


Information regarding the SMS and AS courses:


We will use the Zoom platform, on my NEW personal virtual room.

To access it, use the following invitation and link: 


Luciano Iess is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting:

Topic: Luciano Iess's Personal Meeting Room

Join Zoom Meeting:


Meeting ID: 853 448 9651    

Passcode: 250498


You must enter the room with your FIRST NAME and LAST NAME. You will not be admitted to the virtual classroom with nicknames. 



 **** Space Missions and Systems 


Matlab codes for the coherent demodulator: version 1 (shown in class) and version 2

Challenge 2020 - Results

1st place: not awarded

2nd place: Fabiani, Gubernari

3rd place: Pallarés Chamorro, Di Muzio (+1 pt.)


The challenge is a valid replacement for HW1 for the following students:

Capocchiano, Di Francesca, Di Muzio, Maioli, Mattei, Mereu, Moretti, Paci, Silvestri, Sponsillo

Congratulations to all participants! Many of you did quite a good job. 


Follow the link on the left panel to get the instructions for the remote exam sessions. 

For detailed instructions you may also download this pdf document (last update 25/5).


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


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).





*** 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




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



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


*** 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)