Francesco Pepe


I have started my professional career as physicist in 1992 at the Swiss Federal Institute of the Technology where, in the frame of my PhD thesis, I designed and developed a far-infrared balloon-borne spectrometer. Today I am specialized in astronomical instrumentation and the research of extra-solar planets.

I arrived at the Geneva Observatory in April 1998 in order to pursue research in infrared astronomy. Shortly after my arrival I have been assigned to the HARPS project of which I have been the Project Manager and the System Engineer. HARPS was installed and commissioned successfully on October 2003 on ESO’s 3.6-m telescope in La Silla (Chile), and delivers since then a bunch of exciting results. After that I dedicated myself to another interesting project: the “Astrometric survey of extra-solar planets with VLTI PRIMA”. As Project Manager of the Differential Delay Lines and Astrometric Software I have contributed building a piece of it. I am today member of the ESPRI Science Team by which we hope doing soon great science with PRIMA.

Presently, I am involved in two large projects of which I am the Principal Investigator. The first is HARPS-N, the northern copy of HARPS. It has been installed in 2012 at the Telescopio Nazionale Galileo (TNG) and is fully operational to date. Its main purpose is the follow-up of Earth-sized planet candidates discovered by the KEPLER satellite and hunt for new very low-mass planets in the northern hemisphere. The second is ESPRESSO, a new generation of spectrograph for the Very-Large Telescope (VLT). ESPRESSO will be so precise that it will find rocky extra-solar planets in the habitable zone of their parent star.

Besides my project and scientific activity, I am, at the Geneva Observatory, doing project coordination and teaching courses on astronomical instrumentation.

Birth date: 03/08/1968

Birth place: Olten, Switzerland


Three children

Italian and Swiss citizen

Education: Physicist ETHZ

Profession: Astronomer UniGe

Professeur Associé

My passions

  1. My family

  2. Playing soccer

  3. Enjoying nature

  4. Listening music

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