Introduction: Italian planetology today
The study of planetary bodies is currently in one of the most exciting periods in its history.
The discovery of hundreds of extra solar planetary systems has broadened the frontiers of modern astrophysics, making the scientific community re-consider the Solar System as a peculiar case within a wide variety of possible solutions. This discovery has given birth to a new multi-disciplinary science, bioastronomy, whose main goal is the study of the origin, evolution and spread of life in the Universe. In the international context of planetological studies, Italy has played a very central role for years, thanks to the efforts of the active and dynamic scientific community, that has managed to define itself leading roles in activities that go from pure theoretical research to remote observations from the ground and space, to laboratory experiments, and the construction of essential instruments that have flown, and are flying, on-board the main planetary exploration space missions. In fact, it is important to note that the planetology which is developing in recent years, uses space exploration as a primary instrument to obtain data for any attempt of
interpretation, analysis and modeling of the planetary bodies. These activities are, by their nature, financed principally by the "Agenzia Spaziale Italiana" and/or ESA. Involvement in space activities is also to be considered an obvious development of basic theoretical, observational and laboratory based research, that find a natural source of funding in INAF, and are the result and expression of a long tradition that has resulted in Italy having many of the world experts in the field of planetology.