Centro di Geodesia Spaziale (Center for Space Geodesy) – Matera, Italy - Atlas Obscura

Centro di Geodesia Spaziale (Center for Space Geodesy)

One of the few places of its kind, this space research center sits deep in the countryside of Matera. 


A few miles east of Matera, in Southern Italy, a research center belonging to the Italian Space Agency (ASI) sits far into the countryside of the Murge plateau, away from towns and busy roads.

The Centro di Geodesia Spaziale (Center for Space Geodesy), dedicated to Italian mathematician Giuseppe Colombo, was founded in 1983 as a collaboration between the National Research Council (CNR), NASA, and the Region of Basilicata. It’s managed by Italian spaceflight company Telespazio. The center now hosts more than 100 employees, working for ASI, Telespazio, and other private companies.

Originally, the center was only focused on earth observations and geodesy, but over the years it has expanded to include more research activities and operational services for navigation, astrometry, radioastronomy, and geology. It’s now one of the main research centers in Italy, also known as the Matera Space Center. It’s also an important structure for space mission control, laser ranging, and remote sensing.

The facility acts as the primary base for the COSMO-SkyMed system, the first Earth observation space-based radar satellite intended for both civilian and military use. The center also hosts various radio telescopes and an optical telescope.