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Farnocchia D.,Jet Propulsion Laboratory | Chesley S.R.,Jet Propulsion Laboratory | Micheli M.,Coordination Center | Micheli M.,SpaceDyS srl | And 7 more authors.
Icarus | Year: 2015

The Mars flyby of C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) represented a unique opportunity for imaging a long-period comet and resolving its nucleus and rotation state. Because of the small encounter distance and the high relative velocity, the goal of successfully observing C/2013 A1 from the Mars orbiting spacecraft posed strict accuracy requirements on the comet's ephemeris. These requirements were hard to meet, as comets are known for being highly unpredictable: astrometric observations can be significantly biased and nongravitational perturbations affect comet trajectories. Therefore, even prior to the encounter, we remeasured a couple of hundred astrometric images obtained with ground-based and Earth-orbiting telescopes. We also observed the comet with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on 2014 October 7. In particular, these HiRISE observations were decisive in securing the trajectory and revealed that out-of-plane nongravitational perturbations were larger than previously assumed. Though the resulting ephemeris predictions for the Mars encounter allowed observations of the comet from the Mars orbiting spacecraft, post-encounter observations show a discrepancy with the pre-encounter trajectory. We reconcile this discrepancy by employing the Rotating Jet Model, which is a higher fidelity model for cometary nongravitational perturbations and provides an estimate of C/2013 A1's spin pole (RA,DEC)=(63°,14°). © 2015 Elsevier Inc.


D'Abramo G.,SpaceDyS srl
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics | Year: 2012

Even though the second law of thermodynamics holds the supreme position among the laws of nature, as stated by many distinguished scientists, notably Eddington and Einstein, its position appears to be also quite peculiar. Given the atomic nature of matter, whose behavior is well described by statistical physics, the second law could not hold unconditionally, but only statistically. It is not an absolute law. As a result of this, in the present paper we try to argue that we have not yet any truly cogent argument (known fundamental physical laws) to exclude its possible macroscopic violation. Even Landauer's information-theoretic principle seems to fall short of the initial expectations of being the fundamental 'physical' reason of all Maxwell's demons failure. Here we propose a modified Szilard engine which operates without any steps in the process resembling the creation or destruction of information. We argue that the information-based exorcisms must be wrong, or at the very least superfluous, and that the real physical reason why such engines cannot work lies in the ubiquity of thermal fluctuations (and friction).We see in the above peculiar features the main motivation and rationale for pursuing exploratory research to challenge the second law, which is still ongoing and probably richer than ever. A quite thorough (and critical) description of some of these challenges is also given. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Micheli M.,Serco | Koschny D.,European Space Agency | Drolshagen G.,European Space Agency | Hainaut O.,European Southern Observatory | Bernardi F.,SpaceDyS srl
Earth, Moon and Planets | Year: 2014

In this work we summarize the initial results of a targeted effort of the ESA NEO Coordination Centre to obtain additional observational data in order to eliminate or reduce the impact probability estimate of a subset of the known near-Earth objects representing the highest fraction of the total known impact risk, as measured by the Palermo Scale. © 2014, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


Farnocchia D.,Jet Propulsion Laboratory | Chesley S.R.,Jet Propulsion Laboratory | Micheli M.,Coordination Center | Micheli M.,SpaceDyS srl | Micheli M.,National institute for astrophysics
Icarus | Year: 2015

We describe systematic ranging, an orbit determination technique suitable to assess the near-term Earth impact hazard posed by newly discovered asteroids. For these late warning cases, the time interval covered by the observations is generally short, perhaps a few hours or even less, which leads to severe degeneracies in the orbit estimation process. The systematic ranging approach gets around these degeneracies by performing a raster scan in the poorly-constrained space of topocentric range and range rate, while the plane of sky position and motion are directly tied to the recorded observations. This scan allows us to identify regions corresponding to collision solutions, as well as potential impact times and locations. From the probability distribution of the observation errors, we obtain a probability distribution in the orbital space and then estimate the probability of an Earth impact. We show how this technique is effective for a number of examples, including 2008 TC3 and 2014 AA, the only two asteroids to date discovered prior to impact. © 2015 Elsevier Inc.


Micheli M.,Coordination Center | Micheli M.,SpaceDyS srl | Micheli M.,National institute for astrophysics | Koschny D.,Coordination Center | And 9 more authors.
Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union | Year: 2016

The NEO Coordination Centre (NEOCC) has been established within the framework of the ESA Space Situational Awareness (SSA) Programme. Among its tasks are the coordination of observational activities and the distribution of up-to-date information on NEOs through its web portal. The Centre is directly involved in observational campaigns with various telescopes, including ESO's VLT and ESA's OGS telescope. We are also developing a network of collaborating observatories, with a variety of capabilities, which are alerted when an important observational opportunity arises. From a service perspective, the system hosted at the NEOCC collects information on NEOs produced by European services and makes it available to users, with a focus on objects with possible collisions with the Earth. Among the tools provided via our portal are the Risk List of all known NEOs with impact solutions, and the Priority List, which allows observers to identify NEOs in most urgent need of observations. Copyright © 2016 International Astronomical Union.

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