Travelling through space requires enormous velocities, but achieving these can require more propellant than we would otherwise need to carry.
Happily the gravity fields of the sun, the planets and their moons can sometimes interact to provide paths along which spacecraft can ‘fall’, often for huge distances, all across the solar system.
Our researchers are identifying these paths so we can use the most efficient trajectories and propulsion technologies to access different targets in space.
We are also looking out for related concepts that can allow spacecraft to collect solar power from space, hover between the Earth and the sun, and even deflect the occasional dangerous asteroid!
- Orbital dynamics is the study of the motion of bodies – spacecraft in particular – in space. Our research looks for ways to actively control their motion using a propulsion system, in order to achieve mission goals.
- Solar sailing is the use of the pressure generated by the light of the sun to drive a spacecraft. We are interested in studying the orbital dynamics and the control of solar sails.