4th Global Trajectory Optimisation Competition (GTOC4)
After the success of the previous editions, the Global Trajectory Optimisation Competition, an event organized for the first time by ESA's Advanced Concepts Team, will be held again this year. The competition will be organised by Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) as winners of last year’s competition. In the image on the right, the trophee by the Spanish artist Isabel Genovard, chosen as symbol of the GTOC competitions. Read the original text, from Regis Bertrand, Richard Epenoy and Benoit Meyssignac, of this year's announcement below.
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
We would like to announce the 4th Global Trajectory Optimisation Competition (GTOC) organised this year by the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES). Instructions for registering for the competition are outlined below.
The competition was instituted and first organised in 2005 under the leadership of Dario Izzo of the Advanced Concepts Team, European Space Agency [Refs. 1 and 2], as a mean of stimulating research in the area of spacecraft trajectory optimisation. As all the winners of the previous editions did (the Outer Planets Mission Analysis Group of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 2006 [Ref. 3] and the Aerospace Propulsion Group of Politecnico di Torino in 2007 [Ref. 4]), CNES accepted with great pleasure to organise the competition this year.
Winners of the previous GTOC editions: 1st edition in 2005 - Outer Planets Mission Analysis Group of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory 2nd edition in 2006 - Aerospace Propulsion Group of Politecnico di Torino 3rd edition in 2007 - CNES Interplanetary Mission Analysis Team.
Mission designers generally solve trajectory optimisation problems by means of local optimisation methods together with their own experience of the problem. Even if this way is known to provide good results, it never guarantees to yield the global optimum. On the other hand, global optimisation techniques can offer significant assistance in finding an acceptable solution to a given problem, even though convergence to the global optimum is still not guaranteed. By focusing on a problem with a very large number of locally optimal solutions, the Global Trajectory Optimisation Competition promotes the development of methods that most thoroughly and most quickly search through a large and unconventional design space for optima. The competition offers a unique playground for researchers to test new ideas, and is an excellent way to compare global optimisation methods with classical local methods, which are permitted but, in fact, penalised by the unusual objective function of the proposed problem.
Participation in the competition will be nominally limited to the first forty researchers or teams of researchers to register. To apply, simply contact Regis Bertrand by February 27, 2009 preferably by e-mail, using the address given below. Please include contact information as well as names and institutional affiliations of the researchers in the team. Feel free to pass on this announcement to other researchers you believe may be interested.
The competition will require to find the "best" solution to an interplanetary spacecraft trajectory optimisation problem which will be disclosed on March 2, 2009. Solutions must be returned within four weeks, that is, by March 30, 2009, in an ASCII text format which will be specified later on. Solutions will be first verified and then ranked on the basis of the objective function specified for the problem.
We expect to create a web site where a list of participating teams and the problem details will be given. A one-day workshop will be held in September 2009 in Toulouse, France, where selected teams will be invited to present their methods and results. Selection of presenting teams will be based not only on ranking but also on other criteria such as creativity and perceived potential of the methods used. Information concerning the workshop will be given when appropriate.
Summary of important dates:
* 27 February 2009: Deadline to register for the competition
* 2 March 2009: Disclosure of competition problem
* 30 March 2009: Deadline for return of solutions
* April 2009: Solutions evaluated, presenters selected
* September 2009: One-day workshop
We look forward to your registration and participation in the competition.
Regis Bertrand, Richard Epenoy and Benoit Meyssignac
Dr. Regis Bertrand
Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales CNES
18 avenue Edouard Belin
31401 Toulouse Cedex 9
Alternate contact persons:
Dr. Richard Epenoy
 Acta Astronautica, Vol. 61, Issue 9, 2007. Issue devoted to results from the "1st ACT Global Trajectory Optimisation Competition"
 GTOC portal
 GTOC1-ACT Competition Web Pages
 GTOC2-JPL press release
 Acta Astronautica, Vol. 61, Issue 9, 2007. Issue devoted to results from the "1st ACT Global Trajectory Optimisation Competition".
For non-space researchers
For teams having backgrounds other than aerospace engineering to participate this year competition the GTOP (Global Trajectory Optimisation Problem database) is available here.