Giuseppe Colombo

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Giuseppe "Bepi" Colombo (October 2, 1920 in Padua – February 20, 1984 in Padua) was an Italian scientist, mathematician and engineer at the University of Padua, Italy.


Colombo studied the planet Mercury, and it was his calculations which showed how to get a spacecraft into a solar orbit which would encounter Mercury multiple times, using a gravity assist maneuver with Venus. Due to this idea, NASA was able to have the Mariner 10 accomplish three fly-bys of Mercury instead of one.[1] Mariner 10 was the first [2] spacecraft to use gravity assist. Since then, the technique has become common.

Colombo also explained the spin-orbit resonance in Mercury's orbit, showing that it rotates three times for every two orbits around the sun.

Saturn's rings[edit]

Colombo also made significant contributions to the study of Saturn's rings, mostly using ground-based observations in the era before space exploration reached the outer solar system.

Other contributions[edit]


Several astronomical objects and spaceships are named after to honor him:


  1. ^ "Giuseppe Bepi Colombo Grandfather of the fly-by". Welcome to ESA. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  2. ^ "Mariner 10". 30 November 2010. Archived from the original on 19 February 2014. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  3. ^ ESA Press Release: ESA's Mercury mission named BepiColombo in honour of a space pioneer

External links[edit]