Uncovering the Mysteries of the Solar System: Simone Marchi Awarded 2017 Paolo Farinella Prize

Studying the impact history and evolution of the inner solar system.


Our solar system is comprised of the sun and everything that revolves around it including planets, asteroids, etc. Understanding or uncovering mysteries of the solar system could help to comprehend how mankind came to be.

Many scientists suggest that the solar system is derived from a giant cloud of dust and gas. According to them, the dust and gas were collapsed under the weight of its own gravity and started moving in a giant circle.

The collision and impacts within planetary bodies may account for some previously unexplained properties of planets, asteroids, and meteorites, etc. Understanding them could greatly improve our knowledge about the evolution of our solar system.

Dr. Simone Marchi is one of the scientist, who has made an extraordinary logical contribution in this field. Now, he is nominated for the 2017 Farinella Prize.

The annual Paolo Farinella Prize is awarded to scientists who made significant contributions to space exploration. It honors the memory of Paolo Farinella (1953–2000), an Italian planetary scientist who studied asteroids and small bodies, conducting essential research in this field.

This year, Marchi is going to receive this award for his research on the impact history and evolution of the inner solar system. He studied the arrangement of the terrestrial planets and the moon, the geology of asteroids and the terrestrial planets, spectroscopy, and dynamics of minor bodies, and meteorites. Furthermore, he reviewed the dwarf planet Ceres and the earliest collision history of the Earth and moon.

He explained how challenging it was. He said, “The intriguing and challenging aspect of my research is that I go after events that took place eons ago. Although we have sophisticated tools in our bag of tricks, like spacecraft, it is still very challenging to learn about the infancy of our solar system and to explore worlds that are hundreds of millions of miles away.”

Miniature planets like Ceres are difficult for our understanding of formation and evolution of the solar system. They are the part of the formation of larger planetary bodies and store some pristine traits. This can tell about the conditions in the early solar system.

However, there are still some unsolved mysteries of the solar system that require new and more sophisticated exploration capabilities.

He said, “Space missions are an essential tool. For instance, we still do not have a good understanding of the composition of small bodies and how and where they formed. To answer these questions, I would like to see more sample-and-return or in-situ analyses. I would like to land and sample interesting asteroids and comets.”

Marchi will receive the Paolo Farinella Prize during the international European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) 2017 taking place September 17-22 in Riga, Latvia. He will also give a Prize lecture at the “EPSC awards special session”.


See stories of the future in your inbox each morning.