Giuseppe Colombo

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Giuseppe Colombo (Padua, October 2, 1920 – Padua, February 20, 1984), better known by his nickname Bepi Colombo, was an Italian scientist, mathematician and engineer at the University of Padua, Italy.


Colombo studied the planet Mercury, and it was his calculations on how to get a spacecraft into a resonant orbit with Mercury with multiple fly-bys that led to the success of the Mariner 10 mission. 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]

Colombo invented tethers for tying satellites together. He also participated in the planning of Giotto, the European Space Agency's mission to Halley's Comet, but died before the spacecraft was launched.


The ESA mission to Mercury, which launched at 1:45:28 UTC on 20th October 2018, is named BepiColombo in his honor. Also named after the scientist are the Colombo Gap in Saturn's rings, asteroid 10387 Bepicolombo, and the Giuseppe Colombo Centre for Space Geodesy in Matera, Italy.


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