- Success stories - Brussels 1989
the First Prize thanks to his study of the "Toxicity of colour
dyes used as tracers". From the Brussels edition she vividly
remembers a young girl from Switzerland that arrived with
her guitar: "we used to get together in the evenings and we
sang different songs from our countries. The atmosphere was
really special. The EU Contest was a great opportunity for
young students, and I am happy that I am still in science".
that her participation in the EU Contest was very important
for her scientific career: "After my first prize in Brussels
my self-confidence was very strong, and for this reason I
pursued very firmly my aim to be a researcher in the future".
That is why she tries to promote science amongst the students
that come to the observatory.
the EU Contest, she continued to study her Physics degree
in the University of Padua. Her initial purpose was to specialise
in biophysics, but in Padua such a field of study was not
very well developed. While she was working on her thesis "a
Professor asked me to focus on the dynamic and climatic stability
of our planet and Mars. He actually knew about my success
in the EU Contest and he thought that I could analyse very
well the different biological fortunes of these planets".
is how she entered astrophysics and, after the completion
of her degree, she stayed in France for one year at the Observatoire
de la Côte D'Azur in Nice. She worked on planetary system
formation and, later on, she moved to the Netherlands, where
she took part in the Rosetta space mission organised by ESA-ESTEC
(European Space Agency / European Space Research and Technology
Centre). There she would develop some software in order to
simulate the trajectory of a spacecraft around a comet's nucleus.
Rosetta is the name of the spacecraft, which will be launched
in 2003 with the objective of approaching and mapping the
comet nucleus's surface. Her work on the Rosetta project was
based on "the identification of a safe orbit for the spacecraft,
meaning that, in case of manoeuvre failures or telecommunication
breakdown, the predicted orbit would not impact on the comet's
nucleus before several days. This amount of time would be
enough to restore the probe-Earth telecommunication connection
or to correct the manoeuvring operations".
her experience with the Rosetta mission, she was awarded a
PhD fellowship for the Department of Astronomy in the University
of Padua and she concentrated her work on open clusters. These
are groups of young stars that are embedded in the gas clouds
from which they originated. She describes her tasks as "the
deduction of the stellar radial velocity in order to understand
the dynamical evolution of these groups of stars. They are
gravitationally bounded at the beginning, but they become
subject to progressive detachment within a few million years.
This detailed study explains why she has finally become an
observer at the Asiago Observatory and why she is frequently
at the telescope. She has now obtained a staff position at
this Observatory, which is part of the Astronomical complex
in Padua, as well as being in charge of welcoming the students
that visit the Observatory to see it around and to attend
some lectures on how it works.
However, she is working at the same time for another ESA project
called the GAIA mission. This will be a project orientated
to measure the position and velocity of one billion stars
within our galaxy.
relates, as an anecdote, how surprised she was when she knew
that "there was an Enrico Maria Corsini in Asiago. He was
another Italian participant at the Contest in Brussels: he
did an Astronomy PhD like me and now he has a postdoc fellowship
here at Asiago".
Although Astronomy is her main interest, she is very interested
in marine biology and speleology too.