Professor Andrea Milani Comparetti passed away on the 28th November. Andrea Milani Comparetti (photo on the right) was born in Florence in 1948 and pursued his academic career at the University of Pisa where he was Assistant Professor of Mathematical Analysis from 1971 to 1985, then Associate Professor of the Principals of Mathematics until 2002 and finally Full Professor of Mathematical Physics until he retired in November this year. Among the positions held at the university, the professor was a member of the Board of Directors from 1978 to 1980.
In the words below his students, friends and colleagues commemorate him.
Professor Andrea Milani Comparetti was an eminent scientist and excellent teacher, with numerous research interests in different fields. His ability to grasp concepts was often surprising, as was the speed with which he conceived simple solutions to complex problems. His principal field of interest was in all aspects of Celestial Mechanics with particular regard to the applications of Astronomy and space missions.
Professor Milani became very interested in Celestial Mechanics at a young age: after embarking on a research career in Pure Mathematics, he was intrigued by the lessons Giuseppe Colombo gave at the Scuola Normale in the 1970s on space flight dynamics. At the end of the 1970s, together with Anna Maria Nobili and Paolo Farinella, he founded the Space Mechanics Group in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Pisa and began to direct his research towards the field of Celestial Mechanics. This was the era of the development of computing devices, and he began to make wide use of them in his studies.
Professor Milani managed to give his research activity an extremely cross-disciplinary character, interacting with mathematics, physics, astronomy and aerospace engineering. His research included, among other things, the N-body problem, the stability of the Solar System, asteroid dynamics and the study of the families generated by their collision, satellite geodesy, space exploration, orbit determination of celestial bodies and asteroid impact risk with the Earth.
He published around 150 research papers in international journals with peer-reviews and various books on both research subjects and of an educational nature. For his contributions to the study of asteroid orbits, he received the Brouwer Award from the American Astronomical Society, which is the most prestigious international acknowledgement in the field of Dynamic Astronomy, and in 2016 he was given the GAL Hassin Award. He was past president of the Commissions 7 and X2 of the International Astronomical Union and a member of the Celestial Mechanics Institute.
He was a man of great culture, with a curious and open mind, interested in literature, economics and politics, and who, in his spare time, enjoyed writing science fiction tales.
Over the years, he shaped an entire school of researchers as he was constantly full of ideas for his students, some of whom work with the Celestial Mechanics Group of the University of Pisa, others in the spin-off SpaceDyS, also a venture of his, and yet others in important research institutes in Italy and abroad.
His significant legacy will continue. The people who worked with him treasure his teachings, and his contributions will continue to influence Celestial Mechanics at length. As his closest and longest-standing collaborators, we wanted to offer these words to honour his memory. We will always be grateful to Andrea for having shared with us his extraordinary scientific and cultural abilities and humanity.
Steven R. Chesley (NASA-JPL)
Davide Farnocchia (NASA-JPL)
Giovanni Federico Gronchi (University of Pisa)
Zoran Knezevic (Serbian Academy of Sciences and Art)
Paolo Paolicchi (University of Pisa)
Alessandro Rossi (IFAC-CNR)
Giacomo Tommei (University of Pisa)
Giovanni Battista Valsecchi (IAPS-INAF)