Piero D’Incecco

At Hveragerði hot springs, Iceland

Piero D’Incecco, planetary geologist

  • Contact: tel. +49 (176) 3298 1472 ; email:
  • Social media: Twitter

Me and my planetary science

I’m a planetary geologist, particularly focused on surface morphology of terrestrial bodies.

As a member of the Geology Discipline Group of the NASA MESSENGER team, I had the opportunity to study the surface spectral properties of Mercury. Starting from the elaboration and analysis of remotely sensed data achieved from MDIS and MASCS instruments (Mercury Dual Imaging System, and Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer, respectively), my work focuses on realizing a geologically supervised spectral investigation of the shallow crust of Mercury, using impact craters as a key into the subsurface of the planet.

Using one micron surface emissivity data from the VEX-VIRTIS instrument (Visible InfraRed and Thermal Imaging Spectrometer on Venus Express) and high-resolution radar images from the NASA Magellan mission, my work has been focused on analyzing location, size and extent of recently active lava flows on a volcanic structure of Venus. This was possible by combining morphologic mapping on Magellan SAR images with 1 micron emissivity modeling.

I currently work in the Planetary Emissivity Laboratory group at DLR in Berlin under Dr. Joern Helbert. I’m also a PhD student at the Department of Astronomy of the University of Oulu, supervised by Prof. Juergen Schmidt.

Previously I focused on global and local scale comparison between terrestrial and Venusian calderas. This was done during my Master’s thesis (at University G. D’Annunzio in Chieti/Pescara, Italy, and the NASA Nordic Regional Planetary Image Facility (NRPIF) at the University of Oulu, Finland).


  • Arctic Planetary Science Institute, 2016–present
  • German  Aerospace  Center  (DLR) , Berlin, Germany, 2011–present
  • University of Oulu, Department of Physics, Oulu, Finland: 2008, 2010, 2014–present
  • Past:
    • Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA, 2011
    • Università degli studi G. D’Annunzio, Department of structural geology and geodynamics of the Earth and planets, Chieti, Italy: 2002–2010

Field trips, excursions, and/or field study sites

  • University of Münster and Brown University: Bavaria Field trip, 2013

Top five publications

  • D’Incecco, P., Helbert, J., D’Amore, M., Ferrari, S., Head, J. W., Maturilli, A., and Hiesinger, H., 2016. A geologically supervised spectral analysis of 121 globally distributed impact craters as a tool for identifying vertical and horizontal heterogeneities in the composition of the shallow crust of Mercury. Accepted for publication on Planetary and Space Science journal.
  • D’Incecco, P., Helbert, J., D’Amore, M., Maturilli, A., Head, J. W., Klima, R. L., Izenberg, N. R., McClintock, W. E., Hiesinger, H., and Ferrari, S., 2015. Shallow crustal composition of Mercury as revealed by spectral properties and geological units of two impact craters. Planet. Space Sci., 119, 250-263, doi:10.1016/j.pss.2015.10.007.
  • Xiao, Z., Strom, G., Chapman, C. R., Head, J. W., Klimczak, C., Ostrach, L. R.; Helbert, J., D’Incecco, P., 2014. Comparisons of fresh complex impact craters on Mercury and the Moon: Implications for controlling factors in impact excavation processes. Icarus, Volume 228, Pages 260- 275; doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2013.10.002.
  • Helbert, H., Hiesinger, H., D’Amore, M., Walter, I., Peter, G., Säuberlich, T., Arnold, G., Maturilli, A., D’Incecco, P., 2013. MERTIS on BepiColombo: seeing Mercury in a new light. Proc. SPIE 8867, Infrared Remote Sensing and Instrumentation XXI, 886705; doi:10.1117/12.2023972.
  • Helbert, , Mueller, N., Maturilli, A., Nadalini, R., Smrekar, S., D’Incecco, P., D’Amore, M., 2013. Observing the surface of Venus after VIRTIS on VEX: new concepts and laboratory work. Proc. SPIE 8867, Infrared Remote Sensing and Instrumentation XXI, 88670C; doi:10.1117/12.2025582.

Other achievements, positions of trust, etc.

  • DLR/DAAD Fellowship Award, German Aerospace Center, Berlin, Germany, 2011–2015
  • European Geoscience Union  (EGU) Outstanding  Student  Poster (OSP) Award, 2014