Volcanoes and earthquakes: Italy and China together to assess risk from space
On 2 February 2018, the CSES-China Seismo-Electromagnetic Satellite for Earth observation was launched from the Gobi Desert, Mongolia. CSES has been developed by the Chinese Space Agency to develop new investigational approaches and to predict geophysical phenomena, such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
One of the satellite flagship tools is the Italian HEPD-High Energic Particle Detector, developed by Italian researchers of the LIMADOU collaboration, named after Matteo Ricci, Italian missionary in China in the XVI century, whose Mandarin name was Li-Madou. The HEPD detector will help study the existence of possible space or time correlations between the occurrence of seismic events and the observation of iono-magnetospheric perturbations, or any abnormal precipitations of particles from the inner Van Allen belt.
“The launch of CSES, said Valeria Fedeli, Minister of Education, University and Research, on the occasion of the satellite launch, is the result of long hard work and high-level collaboration between the Italian and Chinese scientific communities which I had the chance to appreciate during my visit to China last November. Scientific and technological research have major tangible benefits on society as a whole. This is just a first, important step towards the stable use of space science and technology in the study of the origin of seismic activity, a huge challenge in the understanding of one of the biggest threats known by humanity. CSES is a further demonstration that research and technology are an excellence in Italy and an asset that needs to be constantly supported both financially and organizationally at all levels. To invest for the first time 400 million in Prin and to call up a recruitment plan for young researchers, as our Government has done, is the best way to invest on Italy’s future”, concluded Valeria Fedeli.
“CSES, said Piergiorgio Picozza, researcher of INFN and Tor Vergata University and Principal Investigator of the LIMADOU project, is a highly interdisciplinary mission involving a number of Italian research institutions. The mission will investigate the structure and dynamic of the topside ionosphere gathering world-wide data of the near-Earth electromagnetic environment, plasma and particles. In particular, the HEPD, through joint and coordinated observations carried out together with the other eight instruments onboard the satellite, will investigate the mechanisms that connect the inner processes of our planet with the dynamic of the regions of charged particles (called Van Allen belts) that surround the Earth, with the purpose of identifying and developing new techniques for seismic monitoring from space”, concluded Picozza.
The mission has involved Italian researchers from the Italian Space Agency, the National Institute for Nuclear Physics, the Universities of Bologna, Roma Tor Vergata, Trento and UniNettuno, as well as the National Institute for Astrophysics through the INAF-IAPS institute and CNR with IFAC. Other considerable contribution came from the Italian scientific community, including the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology-INGV.