Spacecraft technology is currently in the midst of significant advance, driven by the miniaturization of satellites, interest in on-orbit servicing, and demonstrated success in robotic exploration. Continued innovation in spacecraft technologies demands the design of trajectories for spacecraft that require fewer resources, possess longer lifetimes, and visit farther destinations. In addition, recent scientific progress has facilitated the discovery of an increasing number of celestial bodies, including asteroid systems, Kuiper belt objects, and star systems. Many techniques used for trajectory design are also useful in modeling natural celestial transport, providing further information about the formation and evolution of the universe.
The Bosanac group focuses on using multi-body dynamics to enable missions to interplanetary destinations and to further our understanding of the motion of natural celestial bodies. In contrast to the two-body problem, the dynamics within multi-body gravitational environments are nonlinear and chaotic, with no analytical solutions available. Accordingly, we leverage tools such as dynamical systems theory to identify fundamental solutions (e.g. libration points, periodic orbits, quasi-periodic orbits, and manifolds) or to visualize a large set of trajectories (e.g. mapping strategies). Using these tools, we construct complex natural or controlled trajectories within chaotic dynamical environments to achieve a set of mission objectives subject to a variety of constraints