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Leonardo's flight to Mars

02 dicembre, 14:54
(ANSA) - TURIN - On November 26, NASA's Curiosity rover set out to Mars as part of the NASA MARs Science Laboratory with a very special cargo on board: a chip containing the Codex on the Flight of Birds and Leonardo's Self-Portrait.

The initiative, set up by the Italian Space Agency (ASI), RAI and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), combines Italian art and science on a voyage to the Red Planet. ''Italy is participating in this mission with its Renaissance science and with an artwork that has tremendous symbolic value'', commented ASI President Enrico Saggese.

''"The Codex on the Flight of Birds is a synthesis of Leonardo da Vinci's science and opened the way for the scientific study of flight. We are very proud that these works are aboard this mission and we thank Nasa''.

The idea of launching Leonardo on a voyage to Mars came about during an episode of TGR Leonardo, a regular science and technology programme by state broadcaster RAI. The programme was taking place in the Royal Library of Turin and JPL director Charles Elachi was one of the participants. He was turning the pages of the Codex, housed in the library, when presenter Silvia Rosa Brusin asked him, ''Why don't we fly it to Mars?''. Elachi immediately welcomed the suggestion, replying ''That's a good idea''.

The 18-page Codex, contained in a microchip in high-definition digital format, is a symbolic text believed by many to be a cornerstone in the history of flight. The images contained in the chip heading for Mars were taken from a notebook dating back to 1505, in which Leonardo drew and described not only the flight of birds but also his famous Flying Machine.

The MSL Mission, ''Is very important because it will take a laboratory to the surface of Mars, which we can use to start conducting very complex analyses compared to those carried out so far'', said Saggese. The next step will take place in 2018 with the Mars Sample Return mission, which will include Italian equipment on board and which will take samples of the soil on Mars before transporting them back to Earth. (ANSA).

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