Leonardo in the Solar System

For Leonardo-Finmeccanica, Space is the place to overcome limits and experiment increasingly advanced technologies, to explore and look for solutions to improve our present and mould our future.


Our expertise in this area comes from a long and established tradition. From the first Italian applied research satellites such as SIRIO, to the Spacelab, the first scientific laboratory in space installed on the Shuttle, up to modern technology for the International Space Station and satellite constellations able to observe and monitor every kind of human activity on our Planet. With our technologies, we support Humanity’s Adventure in Space exploration up to the boundaries of the Solar System, research and experiments in orbit and Earth observation. With joint ventures Telespazio and Thales Alenia Space and the Airborne & Space Systems Division we are present in the most important programmes and in major international space missions.


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Lisa Pathfinder

Launched on 3 December 2015, the ESA’s LISA Pathfinder probe opens the way for the construction of a real space observatory of gravitational waves. The probe is intended to confirm the existence of gravitational waves, validating the necessary technologies in an environment that cannot be reproduced in any laboratory on Earth.



With Euclid, Europe (ESA) consolidates its role as worldwide leader in observational cosmology by satellite. The mission's goal is to investigate the origin of the Universe’s expansion, by studying energy and dark matter, basic ingredients but unknown in today's "Standard Model" of Physical Cosmology.



Scheduled to be launched in 2022 and to reach Jupiter in 2030, the ESA’s JUICE mission will study Jupiter and its large icy moons - Ganymede, Callisto and Europa - discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610 and believed to be of great interest due to the presence of vast liquid oceans, possible locations of life beneath their surfaces.



Luna-Resurs or Luna27 is the mission that ESA and the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) will launch in 2020 to look for water on Earth's satellite. Leonardo-Finmeccanica will contribute to the mission with an experiment named PROSPECT, which contains an analysis laboratory realised in collaboration with the Open University (UK) and a drill capable of drilling the Moon’s surface up to over one metre in depth and taking samples without making water or other volatile substances therein evaporate (currently under development).  



Launched in late 1995, SOHO is a space telescope realised by ESA and NASA designed to study many aspects of the Sun simultaneously, from the structure and dynamics of its interior to the solar wind, the temperature in the corona, the atmosphere’s outermost layer. Leonardo-Finmeccanica has contributed to the realisation of the UVCS spectrometer for measuring the density and temperature of the solar corona.



BepiColombo is ESA’s first European mission, in collaboration with the Japanese space agency JAXA, dedicated to the exploration of Mercury. Its objective is the detailed study of the planet and its surrounding environment, through the use of two separate probes that will operate independently once in orbit around Mercury. The launch is expected in 2018 and the probes will reach Mercury after a seven-year journey through the solar system, taking advantage of the Earth's and Venus’s gravitational pull as well.


Venus Express

Launched in 2005, Venus Express was the second European ESA mission ever sent to other planets and was created by exploiting the experiences of the Rosetta and Mars Express probes. It remained in orbit around Venus for eight years, and has allowed us to study the planet, well above expectations.



Launched on 2 March 2004, Rosetta is the ESA mission dedicated to the exploration of comets, in order to understand the origin of the Solar System. After a long journey, in August 2014 it successfully reached the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, depositing on 12 November 2014, for the first time in history, a lander – named Philae – on its surface.



The ExoMars Programme comprises two distinct missions: the first, in 2016, studies the Martian atmosphere and demonstrates the feasibility of several key technologies for entry into the atmosphere, descent and landing on Mars; the second, in 2020, provides for the use of a stand-alone rover, capable of retrieving soil samples and to analyse their chemical, physical and biological properties.



Launched on 5 August 2011, Juno is the second mission in NASA's New Frontiers Programme and its objective is the observation of Jupiter. After the cruise phase, Juno successfully entered into a polar orbit around Jupiter on 4 July 2016. Within a year, the probe will orbit 33 times around the largest planet in the Solar System. The mission aims to analyse the characteristics of the Giant Planets for a better understanding of the Solar System’s origin as a whole. 



The NASA Dawn mission aims to observe the asteroids Vesta and Ceres. After its launch on 27 September 2007, the probe reached the first asteroid in August 2011. The probe studied Vesta for a whole year, and then headed for Ceres, which it reached in March 2015, with the task of orbiting around it for 16 months. The mission ideally forms a bridge between the exploration of the rocky inner Solar System and the icy outer Solar System, allowing us to better understand the role and importance of water in planetary evolution.


Cassini Huygens

The mission’s aim is to study Saturn and its system of satellites and rings, with particular regard to the Titan satellite. Starting in 1997, after a seven-year journey, the Cassini orbiter and the Huygens probe reached the Saturn system in July 2004. Huygens landed successfully on the surface of Titan on 14 January 2005. Having completed its first cycle of observation in June 2008, the mission will terminate its operational life in 2017.



Copernicus is a European programme designed to monitor the environment and contribute towards managing humanitarian emergencies, natural disasters and the security of the population. The programme provides for the progressive launch of six families of Sentinel satellites, which provide high resolution radar and optical images of our Planet. 



The European Remote-Sensing satellite (ERS), launched in 1991, was the first satellite developed by the European Space Agency to monitor Earth from Space. Its successor, ERS-2, was launched in 1995; on board it carried the GOME scanning spectrometer, produced by Leonardo-Finmeccanica, which for the first time measured and characterised the phenomenon known as the ‘ozone hole’.



ADM-Aeolus, a mission to study atmospheric dynamics, has as its primary goal to improve our knowledge of Earth’s atmosphere and meteorology, also in order to predict the future behaviour of the environmental system and to improve the atmospheric circulation models that are the basis for weather forecasting. In particular, it will be the first satellite capable of making observations of wind speeds on a global level. The launch is expected by 2017.


The EarthCARE mission will study the manner in which clouds and aerosols (the droplets forming the clouds) reflect incident solar radiation in Space and capture infrared radiation emitted from Earth’s surface.



The MTG (Meteostat Third Generation) Programme is a collaboration between ESA and EUMETSAT and will ensure high-resolution meteorological observations and support scientific research on climate change. It consists of six satellites that have the task of determining the atmosphere’s temperature and humidity profiles and analysing their constituent gases.



MetOp-Second Generation is the ESA-EUMETSAT programme for climate and environmental monitoring. Its purpose is allowing increasingly accurate weather forecasts. Launched in 2014, the programme will last until 2042.



This is the Italian Space Agency’s (ASI) mission for “full colours” observation of Earth. Satellites with high spatial and spectral resolution have changed the way we "see" the environment and environmental phenomena. This is the case of PRISMA, an Earth observation system with innovative electro-optical instrumentation, which combines a hyperspectral sensor with a medium-resolution photographic camera sensitive to all colours. In this way, the satellite is able to distinguish not only the geometrical characteristics of what is observed, but also the chemical-physical composition of the objects on the scene.