The future of space exploration and utilisation is characterised by missions of increasing ambitious goals. In order to achieve these goals it is often more rewarding to explore new directions in the way a mission is conceived rather than to force the upgrade of an already existing technology. The Advanced Concpets Team research in this field is divided into three main areas:
- Interplanetary Trajectory Design
- Advanced Mission Concepts
In all cases, we are deeply invstigating the use of new tools such as machine learning, differential algebra, validated integration, deep reinforcement learning, high performance computing, etc..
Interplanetary Transfers via Deep Representations of the Optimal Policy and/or of the Value Function01 Mar 2019 A number of applications to interplanetary trajectories have been recently proposed based on deep networks. These approaches often rely on the availability of a large number of optimal trajectories to learn from. In this project we...
G&CNets - On-Board Optimal Control of a Quadcopter01 Jun 2018 In collaboration with TU Delft, we have further investigated the use of G&CNets for real-time optimal control by training and testing these networks onboard the Parrot Bebop drone in...
Low-thrust Solar Electric Propulsion trajectories to NEAs01 Jun 2017 Low-thrust, solar electric propulsion offers a much higher efficiency than conventional chemical propulsion. This advantage comes at the cost of a very small thrust, that must be applied over long time scales. As a consequence, the problem of global trajectory optimization in this setting becomes computationally more difficult to solve.
G&C Networks - Deep architectures for real time optimal actions01 Jan 2017 Recent research on deep learning, a set of machine learning techniques able to learn deep architectures, has shown how robotic perception and action greatly benefits from these techniques. In terms of spacecraft navigation and control system, this suggests that deep architectures may be considered now to drive all or part of ...
Hybrid Propagation31 Oct 2016
Hybrid Propagation31 Oct 2016 Orbit propagation of satellites around the Earth plays an important role in managing the space environment. Modern propagation models take into account perturbations due to the Earth's oblateness, aerodynamic drag, and third body perturbations from the Sun and the Moon. While some of these, such as the Earth's oblateness, are well understood and...
Optimal orderings of k-subsets for star identification15 Apr 2016 Star trackers are an important part of spacecraft to determine the attitude. The device concists of one or multiple cameras that detect stars and identify them based on the visible constellations. From these visible constellations it is possible to compute the orientation of the spacecraft. This is particularly challenging in the lost-in-space s...
Spiderman Spacecraft: Tethered Asteroid flybys in the Asteroid Belt08 Mar 2016 Swinging between asteroids by attaching a string (or tether) to them, just like Spiderman does when he's flying between the skyscrapers of New York. That is the basic idea of tethered asteroid flybys. By holding on to these relatively small celestial bodies, a spacecraft can change direction "for free", i.e. without spending any fuel.
Lagrangian Coherent Structures: detecting dynamical structures in space08 Mar 2016 One of the most challenging problems in dynamical systems theory in general and astrodynamics in particular is the identification of immutable structures in the often chaotic sea of possible trajectories.
Interplanetary Trajectory Planning with Monte Carlo Tree Search01 Nov 2014 Planning an interplanetary trajectory is a very complex task, traditionally accomplished by domain experts using computer-aided design tools. Recent advances in trajectory optimization allow automation of part of the trajectory design but have yet to provide an efficient way to select promising planetary encounter sequences. In this project, we ...
Active space debris removal trajectory design01 Oct 2014 The space close to our planet is getting more and more polluted. Orbiting debris are posing an increasing threat to operational orbits and the cascading effect, known as Kessler syndrome, may result in a future where the risk of orbiting our planet at some altitudes will be unacceptable.
Natural Formations in Astrodynamics02 Oct 2012
Natural Formations in Astrodynamics02 Oct 2012 Multiple spacecraft in formation yield significant benefits compared to single spacecraft including a reduction of the size and weight of the spacecraft with its consequent savings in launch costs, and the possibility of a fast replacement and redundancy in case of vehicle failure ...
Low-energy Inter-moon Transfers via Resonant Gravity Assists01 Oct 2012 A very challenging part in the design of a planetary moon tour, such as a multi-moon orbiter in the Jupiter system, is the orbital transfer from one planetary moon to another for low-energy transfer. Multiple gravity assists by moons could be used in conjunction with ballistic capture to drastically decrease fuel usage. In planetary systems, the...
Robust Control for Low-thrust Interplanetary Trajectories01 Feb 2010 The purpose of this research project is to introduce novel approaches and methods for designing robust control for low-thrust interplanetary trajectories, in the case of physical perturbations and incertainties, or momentary engine failures.
Space Webs: Laying The Foundation for Future Large Space Structures18 Jun 2007 Space webs are lightweight structures made up by a series of threads waived together with a given pattern. They can cover large surfaces without eccessive mass and volume penalties ...
Variable Speed Control Moment Gyroscopes17 Jan 2007
Variable Speed Control Moment Gyroscopes17 Jan 2007 Advanced attitude actuators could offer an agility option to future generation satellites. But their coupling with the spacecraft flexible modes (inducing vibrations) could be a critical show stopper.
Magic Inclinations01 Jan 2007
Magic Inclinations01 Jan 2007 A search for bounded relative satellite motion has been carried out approaching the problem numerically as an optimisation problem. Two previously unknown inclination values, here referred to as "magic", were found.
Satellite Swarms Dynamics and Control01 Sep 2006
Satellite Swarms Dynamics and Control01 Sep 2006 A satellite swarm is an ensemble of mutually interacting spacecraft performing a number of tasks in a coordinated manner. The ACT research in this area, and in particular the contribution given by the mission analysis and design expertise, focuses on the feasibility of designing controllers for these complex systems.
Exponential Sinusoids01 Sep 2006
Exponential Sinusoids01 Sep 2006 A simplified representation of low thrust trajectories allows for an efficient global optimisation process. Exponential sinusoids are a promising shape.
1st Global Trajectory Optimisation Competition01 May 2006 The first edition of the Global Trajectory optimization Competition was organized in 2005 by the Advanced Concepts Team. The competition was to design an optimal trajectory for a pioneering asteroid deflection mission. A kinetic impactor equipped with low-thrust engines was to be sent to change the orbit of a target asteroid. The quantity to be ...
Centrifugal Fragmentation of Asteroids01 May 2006
Centrifugal Fragmentation of Asteroids01 May 2006 What would happen if we could use a spacecraft to increase an asteroid's spin rate? Asteroids made up of many small rocks loosely held together by their mutual gravitational force could be forced to break up as the centrifugal forces increased.
1st Workshop on Innovative Systems Concepts (2006)21 Feb 2006 The Workshop on Innovative Systems Concepts has been organized to favour the exchange of new ideas and to stimulate unconventional thinking about space research. Spacecraft must evolve. Advancing space missions is no longer just about swapping old components for new, it is about entirely rethinking what a space mission can do and how it achieves...
Global Trajectory Optimisation Problems Database01 Aug 2005 The GTOP web pages contain the definition of black-box global optimisation spacecraft trajectory problems and their best putative solutions. Should you find a better solution to one or more of these problems, please submit it to us!
Semantic Asteroids01 May 2004
Semantic Asteroids01 May 2004 A large semantic database containing globally optimal trajectories to Near Earth Asteroids.
May We Deflect an Asteroid?01 May 2004
May We Deflect an Asteroid?01 May 2004 The deflection of a large body is a daunting task that requires top level technologies and new design methodologies, and most of all it requires a lot of time. But it is nevertheless possible.
Advances in Global Optimisation for Interplanetary Trajectory Design01 Mar 2004 The main goal of this activity is to improve the numerical efficiency of the trajectory design process by resorting to the latest advances in global optimisation theory and astrodynamics.