Amalia Ercoli Finzi

Honorary professor of Politecnico di Milano


  • Year of nomination: 2010
  • Facility: Department of Aerospace Engineering [facility name no longer in use]
  • E-mail:

"Amalia Ercoli Finzi was born in Gallarate (Province of Varese) in 1937. She graduated in Aeronautical Engineering from Politecnico di Milano in 1962, with full marks and distinction, and was awarded a gold medal by AIDAA. Her academic career began immediately after graduating and took place entirely at Politecnico di Milano: from 1962 to 1980 she was an assistant, first of Construction Technology and then of Rational Mechanics; from 1980 to 1993 she was Associate Professor of Aerospace Mechanics; since 1994 she has been Full Professor.

Her most important scientific activity was carried out on topics specific to space missions. Her research activities were mostly part of international research programmes proposed and financed by Space Agencies (ASI, ESA, NASA). Her research is the result of collaborations with Italian and foreign industries, academies and research centres and has been published in over 180 works, including contributions to monographs, publications in journals and talks given at conferences.

The most significant examples of her work are:

  • studies on the dynamics of the deployment and recovery of the line of the TSS (Tether Satellite System) mission, conducted jointly by ASI and NASA
  • studies on nutation control in the phase of detachment from the vector and the design of the thermal control system of the SAX satellite, for X-ray astronomy
  • studies for the COF (Columbus Orbital Facility) programme, relating to the microgravitational isolation of experiments onboard the International Space Station
  • development of a free-based robot, with studies on possible strategies for co-operation between robots, within the SPIDER programme of the Italian Space Agency
  • project responsibility in carrying out the MITE experiment for the measurement of interfacial tensions, successfully flown on MASER I
  • Principal Investigator of the SD2 experiment of the European Rosetta mission, which aimed at drilling the nucleus of the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet and the collection of samples
  • collaboration in the design of the DEDRI experiment for a mission to Mars, Mars Sample Return, intended to collect Martian soil samples and transfer them to Earth
  • she is Co-PI of the MAMISS experiment, selected for the ESA ExoMars mission for the in-depth analysis of Martian soil composition.

Amalia Ercoli Finzi is considered one of the leading experts on space missions at a national and international level; for this reason she was invited to join (and is actually a member of) the strategic commissions that plan space activities for planetary exploration. She held countless roles of responsibility at Politecnico di Milano and was called to contribute to numerous technical and scientific committees of the Italian and the European Space Agencies. At Politecnico, she was Head of the Department of Aerospace Engineering, Rector's Delegate for teaching, President of the Equal Opportunities Committee and Rector's Delegate for gender policies.

Her technical-scientific consultancy assignments include the following:

  • member of the Scientific Committee of the Italian Space Agency from 1997 to 1999
  • member of the Board of Governors of the Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology from 1999 to 2001
  • member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Italian Space Agency from 2002 to 2003
  • member of the Exploration Programme Advisory Committee (EPAC) of the European Space Agency regarding the AURORA Programme for the exploration of Mars
  • member of the European Space Agency’s Human Spaceflights Vision Group (HSVG) for the planning of manned space flights
  • member of the European Space Agency’s High-level Scientific Policy Advisory Committee
  • member of the Board of Directors of the Foundation of the Order of Engineers of the Province of Milan
  • president of the Italian Aeronautics and Astronautics Association
  • president of the Order of Engineers of the Province of Milan
  • she has been recently nominated by the MIUR as one of the experts tasked with reviewing the structure of the Italian Space Agency

Her scientific career has earned her two important awards. She was elected Member of the International Academy of Astronautics and received the Gold Medal of the President of the Republic of Italy for services to science, culture and art."

[extract from the 2010 nomination statement]