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Professor Mario Gilberto Lattanzi Visits SHAO

Mario Gilberto Lattanzi, a professor of Academy of Sciences INAF- Osservatorio Astronomico di Torino, Italy, is now a visiting scientist at SHAO. 
     Lattanzi has practiced space science since the beginning of his carrier as a research astronomer in 1987, and he has had the rare opportunity to take part, as a key collaborator or at the leadership level, in three different space missions dedicated primarily to astrophysics but also to the Solar System and that are making, and will continue to make, a difference in the Planetology of new systems. With the Hipparcos mission, he shared the prime responsibility of reconstructing the astrometric parameters of the 40,000 primary stars with which the Hipparcos reference frame was established and, through collaborations, exploited the mission data for important results on the age of globular clusters, the kinematics of the Milky Way warp, and the energetics of isolated neutron stars (like Geminga) and Seyfert 2 galaxies. As Instrument Scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope, he developed the scientific capabilities of the first optical interferometer operating in space to measure fundamental quantities like the mass of pre-main sequence stars or the changing photospheric diameter of Mira-type variables, to investigate on the nature of the super-massive stars in the LMC cluster R136a, and to derive sizes and shapes of a sample of suspected “double” asteroids to improve on their densities and therefore on their classification. Finally, he was one of the ESA science team members that developed the Gaia mission, which has just started its operational life. Since 2006, he is responsible for the Italian participation in this program and led the effort to build the Italian Data Processing Center, which is bound to become the largest and most advanced DB ever in Italy dedicated to space research, a long-lasting space instrument in itself, to be exploited over the decades to come. The expectation is to undertake the science projects that he has fostered and/or led throughout the many preparation years: confront the predictions of the Cosmology Concordance Model with the details of the Milky Way phase space of its thick disk and inner halo, test General Relativity to unthinkable levels, and realize the largest unbiased census for extrasolar planets ever attempted. He has also participated in important ESA study groups for developing new far-reaching missions, like building a kilometric-size interferometer on the Moon or in a free-flying configuration in orbit. And for his recognized experience, he has been asked to participate in the preparations of new missions like Euclid and Plato.

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