Astrodynamics Group

The Astrodynamics Group is a lively and active group researching into space mission design and space surveillance and tracking.

Overview

Our main goal in mission design is to exploit the nonlinearities of the dynamics and optimal control theory to reduce mission costs and enable new mission concepts. We apply our research to a variety of problems, including low-thrust and impulsive interplanetary transfers, formation flying design and control, rendezvous and docking, remote sensing missions.

Our activity in space surveillance and tracking is aimed at enabling the sustainable use of space. The research is focused on improving the capabilities in predicting the future position of space resident objects (RSO), the way in which we observe them and determine their orbits to build and maintain the RSO catalogue.

We do research to improve the accuracy of conjunctions analysis tools, which are needed to avoid in-space collisions and to enable safer and more cost-effective spacecraft operations. We study methods to improve re-entry predictions to reduce on-ground casualty risks and low-cost options for spacecraft end-of-life disposal to limit the probability of in-space collisions, thus enabling a sustainable use of space.

The work done by our group is multidisciplinary, where the mix of backgrounds varies. We attract mathematicians looking at non-linear dynamical problems, electronic engineers for the design and integration of hardware for the testing of our algorithms, software engineers for the development of complex AOCS software systems and computer scientists interested in behavioural models for the scheduling and cooperation of multiple spacecraft.

Associations

Our group has had a long association with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) and contributed to the successes of a number of SSTL missions in the orbit and attitude maintenance of their satellite. Our research has been funded also by other private and public organisations including by European Space Agency, European Commission, and European Office of Aerospace Research and Development.