Travelling through space requires enormous velocities, but the mass of propellant must be minimised.
However, the gravity fields of the sun, the planets and their moons can interact to provide paths along which spacecraft can freely travel, without the need to apply huge changes in velocity.
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 into related concepts that can allow spacecraft to collect solar power from space, hover between the Earth and the sun using the pressure of sunlight, and even deflect asteroids onto new paths.
- 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.