Being Co Investigator of the OSIRIS payload the 5th of September I had the opportunity to assist from the ESOC, the European Space Operation Centre in Darmstadt, the fly-by of Rosetta with the asteroid Steins. The event took place at 06:58 pm.

After several years of design, assembly, qualification and testing, it was like if I was onboard the payload OSIRIS that embodies the two cameras WAC and NAC while it was pointing toward the asteroid direction. Also thrilling was to wait about 75 minutes for the contact between the space centre and the spacecraft to be renewed. Like already planned by the operational team led by Dr Ferri and Dr Accomazzo, the pointing of the communication antenna was momentarily lost due to the high attitude correction during closest fly-by. With no delay after the planned time the communication was again established at 08:14 pm enabling to collect wonderful images and video of the encounter.


"Steins looks like a diamond in the sky," said Uwe Keller, Principal Investigator for the OSIRIS imaging system from the Max Planck Institut Fuer Sonnensystemforschung, Lindau.

During the fly-by campaign Rosetta took accurate measurements of the asteroid’s size, shape and volume, and measured its rotation rate and reflectivity of the surface. It also took images and spectra, from which conclusions can be drawn about its composition and collisional history. The images are 50 to 60 pixels in diameter, enough to characterise the shape and other characteristics of the body of the asteroid. Visible in the image are several small craters on the asteroid, and two huge ones, one of which is 2 km in diameter, indicating that the asteroid must be very old.


Asteroid (2867) Steins is the first scientific target of ESA’s comet chaser Rosetta. Located in the main asteroid belt, lying between the orbit of Mars and Jupiter, this space rock is being intercepted by Rosetta, which is on its way to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Steins is one of the rarest types of asteroids in the Solar System and can explain how the planets formed.


The Italian OSIRIS imaging system's Wide Angle Camera (WAC) worked perfectly through the fly-by. The OSIRIS team expects that the images that they will retrieve from the Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) will be of comparable resolution. This will add to the detailed colour information and hence to knowledge of the surface composition. Furthermore the NAC with its high resolution was of fundamental help in determining the relative trajectory between Rosetta and Steins with an accuracy of less than 5 km (corresponding in the figure to the uncertainty ellipse at the 95% confidence level)

The figure shows the orbit estimation and the estimation of the relative position between Steins and Rosetta in the target plane. The red dashed line is the contour 800 km from Steins, its nominal distance for the planned maneuvers. The purple cross and associated 3-sigma error ellipse is the latest solution. It includes the processing of optical measurements from 5 OSIRIS images taken after the 04 September morning's maneuver.


OSIRIS comprises two independent camera systems with a joint electronics box. The French narrow angle camera (NAC) is designed to have high spatial resolution to look at the nucleus of the target comet. The Italian wide angle camera (WAC) has a wide field of view and high straylight rejection to look at the dust and gas directly above the surface of the nucleus of the target comet. The cameras have identical CCD detectors with associated read-out electronics and identical shutters and front covers designed by myself and other colleagues. The entire system weigh around 23 kg and is attached to the Rosetta orbiter.


More info about the OSIRIS payload onboard Rosetta on:

Rosetta will be the first mission to land on a comet. After its lander reaches the comet, the main spacecraft will follow the comet for many months as it heads towards the Sun. Rosetta's task is to study comets, which are considered the primitive building blocks of the Solar System. This will help us to understand if life on Earth began with the help of 'comet seeding'.

Rosetta is one of the most challenging missions ever attempted. Many of the complex navigation and landing manoeuvres need to take place automatically with absolutely no room for error. The complications of sending a small spacecraft halfway across the Solar System and making a soft landing on a small comet are immense.

More info about the ESA cornerstone Rosetta mission on:

Three months in Japan: a Master Thesis work


I am Michele Stocco and I had the fantastic opportunity to develop my thesis in a context of collaboration between the University of Trento and the Nara Institute of Science and Technology.

The project took place over six months of which: three at the University of Trento under the guidance of Prof. Mariolino De Cecco and three as internship at the Japanese Institute under the guidance of Prof. Hirokazu


This thesis aims to be a first step in the introduction of augmented reality in a rehabilitative clinical setting with the purpose to support the therapist’s observations by providing real-time augmentations using Microsoft HoloLens. There has been developed a technology framework and an application for Microsoft HoloLens that, in real time, locate the patient in the environment (with three Microsoft KinectV2s) and display information regarding body data and interactions with the environment.


Since it is the first time that AR is applied in this way, a research path has been undertaken to identify and develop the most appropriate features to be visualized to improve the clinical eye.


A Head-Mounted display like the HoloLens is not always simple and intuitive to use, because of their particular input methods, so I developed a WebApp to be used on smartphones that controls the various features in a more everyday way.

The developed system was tested in the Japan laboratory by a rehabilitation professional, from the University of Kyoto, with very positive feedback and the thoughts that such a system could lead to improvements in the therapist evaluations.

My internship in Japan was certainly one of the best experiences of my life. I learned a lot, saw beautiful places, ate delicious food  and met fantastic people. It has only been three months, but they will stay with me forever.

Arigatou gozaimashita! :)

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