The search for exoplanets: research and industry explore space hand in hand

16 April 2021


Now more than ever, the challenges of research require non-stop dialogue between experts of different disciplines making optimal use of each other’s skills and abilities.

Synergy between different sectors of science and technology becomes essential to achieving results as rapidly as possible, with creativity and imagination.

Leonardo and Italy’s National Institute of Astrophysics have formed a potent partnership for producing telescopes to hunt for “exoplanets” – planets that do not revolve around our sun.

Only discovered recently, these planets outside our solar system are so distant that they are only visible through telescopes assembled for probes, such as those used in the European Space Agency’s CHEOPS, PLATO, and, in the future, ARIEL missions. The missions aim to expand our knowledge of how planets are born, focusing on the origins of our own solar system and seeking answers to questions such as whether there are other planets like our own, and whether there could be life on them.

In this interview, we talk to Dr. Isabella Pagano, Director of the Astrophysics Observatory in Catania, Co Principal Investigator (Co-PI) of the PLATO mission and INAF researcher, and engineer Enrico Suetta, Chief Technical Officer responsible for Research & Development of Optronics and the Space line of business at Leonardo, about their point of view on the successful partnership between research and industry.

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