Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Planning Made Easier: Engineers Develop Software Solution For Complex Space Missions

Date:
December 4, 2007
Source:
University of Missouri-Columbia
Summary:
Sending an unmanned spacecraft to the outer fringes of the solar system requires extensive planning.Engineers have now developed an efficient and highly sophisticated mathematical algorithm (implemented as software) that determines the most efficient path for a spacecraft's journey from point A to point B -- no matter how many worlds or years away.

Sending an unmanned spacecraft to the outer fringes of the solar system requires extensive planning. At the University of Missouri, engineers have developed an efficient and highly sophisticated mathematical algorithm (implemented as software) that determines the most efficient path for a spacecraft's journey from point A to point B - no matter how many worlds or years away.

In testing and validating the algorithm, Craig Kluever, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the College of Engineering, and Aaron D. Olds, a former MU graduate student who collaborated on the project, focused on the 1997 Cassini Mission, which was one of the most complicated explorations ever. During a seven-year journey from Earth to Saturn, the orbiter flew past Venus, Earth and Jupiter. It twice flew by Venus. Along the way Cassini performed numerous gravity assists -close fly-by maneuvers that borrow energy from the planet and increase the speed of the spacecraft.

The trajectory generated by Kluever and Olds matched the one created by scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which developed Cassini's route. Their mission-design software, which relies on optimization methods patterned from genetic evolution, makes sending a rover to Mars look relatively easy, Kluever said.

"You don't need complicated mission software for Mars missions," he said. "If you look at the trajectory, it doesn't require a lot of twists, turns and gravity assists. It's a straight shot. You need complicated mission software for ambitious missions to a comet, asteroid, moon of Saturn or beyond. We're talking about missions where an unmanned spacecraft would fly by Venus to do a gravity assist and then fly by Jupiter to do a gravity assist. Before that, it may have to coast a year and half to come back to Venus for another gravity assist. These very high-energy targets require orbital tricks. Timing all of these maneuvers to find the optimal solution is complicated."

Kluever said complex missions are launched roughly every three years with the goal of learning more about the origins of the universe. He said the mathematical principles behind the mission software developed at MU have been embraced primarily by the European Space Agency but thinks it could attract NASA's attention. He said when NASA begins planning future robotic missions "it will need software like this to solve those types of problems. But a lot of it depends on what NASA's going to do with human space travel over the next 10 to 15 years."

The study, "Interplanetary Mission Design Using Differential Evolution," was published in the Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Missouri-Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Missouri-Columbia. "Planning Made Easier: Engineers Develop Software Solution For Complex Space Missions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 December 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071203173004.htm>.
University of Missouri-Columbia. (2007, December 4). Planning Made Easier: Engineers Develop Software Solution For Complex Space Missions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071203173004.htm
University of Missouri-Columbia. "Planning Made Easier: Engineers Develop Software Solution For Complex Space Missions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071203173004.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Newsy (July 19, 2014) Neil Armstrong gained international fame after becoming the first man to walk on the moon in 1969. But what was his life like after the historic trip? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, July 18, 2014

This Week @ NASA, July 18, 2014

NASA (July 18, 2014) Apollo 11 yesterday, Next Giant Leap tomorrow, Science instruments for Europa mission, and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
45 Years Later, Buzz Aldrin on Walking on Moon

45 Years Later, Buzz Aldrin on Walking on Moon

AP (July 18, 2014) Forty-five years ago Sunday, Apollo 11's Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the moon. Speaking at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Aldrin described what he was thinking right before the historic walk. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Orbital Cargo Ship Reaches International Space Station

Orbital Cargo Ship Reaches International Space Station

AFP (July 16, 2014) Orbital Sciences Corporation's unmanned cargo ship arrived Wednesday at the International Space Station carrying a load of food and equipment for the six-man crew at the research outpost. Duration: 00:33 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins