2011 Caltech Space Challenge
The Caltech Space Challenge was a Keck Institute for Space Studies workshop led by Aerospace graduate students Prakhar Mehrotra and Jon Mihaly. It brought together two teams of students from around the world to develop plans for deep-space missions that could carry humans to an asteroid and back. Both teams planned missions to an asteroid known as 1999 AO10, which is between 45 and 100 meters in length and is thought to have a relatively slow spin rate. Since relatively little is known about this asteroid, both teams called for robotic precursor missions that could gather information needed to help plan the later human mission. The competing mission descriptions, from Team Explorer and Team Voyager, were so evenly matched that the jurors had to use three different judging methods to finally settle on a winner. In the end, the victory and shiny new iPads went to Team Voyager. [Caltech Feature] [NPR Broadcast]
Wind-turbine Placement Produces Tenfold Power Increase
Field tests of John O. Dabiri, Professor of Aeronautics and Bioengineering, and colleagues' vertical-axis wind turbines have shown that the power output of wind farms can be increased by an order of magnitude—at least tenfold— by optimizing the placement of turbines on a given plot of land. "Dabiri's bioinspired engineering research is challenging the status quo in wind-energy technology," says Ares Rosakis, Division Chair and Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Mechanical Engineering. "This exemplifies how Caltech engineers' innovative approaches are tackling our society's greatest problems." [Caltech Press Release] [Videos of Turbines]
French Republic Knights Professor Ravichandran
G. Ravichandran, John E. Goode, Jr. Professor of Aerospace and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and Director of the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories (GALCIT) has been selected to receive the Chevalier de l'ordre des Palmes Académiques, which is the Knight grade of the French Republic's Order of Academic Palms. Founded by Napoleon in 1808 to honor educators and scholars, this distinction recognizes eminent personalities who have made significant contributions to the development of French culture, science, and education.
Order of Academic Palms