Satellites, space debris, asteroids and comets


The observational activity of the astronomical station of Loiano (IAU 598), managed by INAF-OAS, is divided into different astronomical and space areas.

An aerial view of the building and the dome of the “Cassini” telescope in Loiano.

The “G. D. Cassini” telescope, used for the observations, is dedicated to the famous Italian astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini (1625-1712), pioneer in telescopic observation of the planets, professor of astronomy at the University of Bologna and director of the Paris Observatory. The Loiano telescope is a reflector Ritchey-Chrétien with a weight of 9 tons and a primary mirror diameter of 1.52 m. The instrument is inside a hemispherical dome of about 12 meters in diameter.

The observations conducted by the astronomers staff concern  Space Situational Awareness and range from the study of artificial satellites/space debris orbits to the minor bodies of the Solar System, i.e. asteroids and comets, without neglecting the fireballs that are an effect of the fragments of the minor bodies that fall into the Earth’s atmosphere. The different thematic areas currently in place are the following:

  1. Space Surveillance and Tracking
  2. TANDEM project
  3. Comet Interceptor support
  4. PRISMA project
  5. Near-Earth asteroids/comets
  6. Active asteroids

The OAS research team, coordinated by Alberto Buzzoni, covers all areas of scientific and technological expertise required by the various projects, and currently consists of the following people:

  1.  Ivan Bruni, Silvia Galleti and Roberto Gualandi (Telescope operations, SST, PRISMA)
  2.  Albino Carbognani (SST, CI, PRISMA, Asteroids/comets near-Earth, Active Asteroids)
  3. Fausto Cortecchia, Emiliano Diolaiti, Matteo Lombini, Laura Schreiber (Telescope optomechanical support and tech development)
  4.  Roberto Di Luca (IT support, PRISMA, ASTRA)
  5. Giovanna Stirpe (Telescope general manager, SST, PRISMA)