Experimental Physics for Earth and from Space


"When you can measure what you are talking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a poor and unsatisfactory kind."
Lord Kelvin


This research is carried out with the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) experiment, installed in 2011 on the International Space Station. Through precision measurements of the composition of cosmic rays in the energy range from 500 Mega eV up to several Tera eV, we study the presence of antiparticles and complex states of nuclear antimatter in cosmic rays, to try to answer fundamental questions concerning the disappearance of primordial antimatter or the characteristics of dark matter.


In 2018, the Sino-Italian satellite CSES (China Seismo-Electromagnetic Satellite), dedicated to the study of seismic phenomena from space, was placed in orbit. A second identical satellite is under construction for a launch in late 2022. The data collected by the first CSES satellite made it possible to develop a causal model - MILC (Magnetospheric-Ionospheric-Lithospheric-Coupling) – of the coupling between the lithosphere and the magnetosphere, paving the way for seismic monitoring from space. The understanding of the coupling mechanisms activated during the earthquake (co-seismic effects), opens the way to the research of possible precursor phenomena phenomena (pre-seismic effects), exploiting the optimal point of view represented by satellite observation.


In 2014, the study of the phenomenon of ablative propulsion began in Trento. This is obtained by irradiating a plate with a high-intensity laser that evaporates material providing a high "specific impulse", producing an equal and opposite thrust just as happens with a rocket propelled by the gases produced by a chemical reaction that takes place in the combustion chamber. This research is showing how it is possible to develop stabilisation or propulsion systems that can use the energy of a laser to eject mass by ablation at high speed, with optimal use of on-board mass in propulsion production.


In 2012-14 I led an international collaboration engaged in a European H2020 research project to study the magnetic protection of astronauts engaged in interplanetary travel, defining the conditions and limits of compact magnetic systems for protection from cosmic radiation.