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Undergraduates Recognized for Inventing Product that Would Mitigate Dust in Lunar Habitats

11-29-21

A team of Caltech undergraduates participating in NASA's 2021 Breakthrough, Innovative and Game-Changing (BIG) Idea Challenge has earned the award for Best Developed Product. The Habitat Orientable & Modular Electrodynamic Shield (HOMES) team earned the Best Developed Product award, because—as noted by NASA—"it's not a concept; it's reality."  [Caltech story]

Tags: GALCIT Charles Elachi Manan Arya Soon-Jo Chung Michael Mello Jason Kastner Richard Abbott

Michael Marshall and Sergio Pellegrino win AIAA Best Paper Award

11-04-21

Graduate Student Michael Marshall, and Sergio Pellegrino, Joyce and Kent Kresa Professor of Aerospace and Civil Engineering; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Senior Research Scientist; Co-Director, Space-Based Solar Power Project, have won the 2021 AIAA Spacecraft Structures Best Paper Award from AIAA 2021 Scitech Forum. The title of the paper is “Reduced-Order Modeling for Flexible Spacecraft Deployment and Dynamics."

 

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE Sergio Pellegrino Michael Marshall

Dabiri Appointed to Secretary of Energy Advisory Board

10-15-21

The Department of Energy (DOE) has announced that John O. Dabiri, the Centennial Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, has been appointed to the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB). The SEAB meets quarterly to advise Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm on how best to achieve the department's priorities and offer recommendations on scientific, technical, and programmatic issues relating to the DOE's mission. "I'm excited to work with the secretary to ensure strong support for fundamental science research, especially in areas where the technological application might be hard to predict today," Dabiri said. "Secretary Granholm's vision to accelerate deployment of climate solutions matches my own sense of urgency to advance sustainability. I'm honored by the opportunity provide advice where it can be helpful for achieving that goal." [Caltech story]

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE John Dabiri

LEONARDO, the Bipedal Robot, Can Ride a Skateboard and Walk a Slackline

10-06-21

Researchers have built a bipedal robot that combines walking with flying to create a new type of locomotion, making it exceptionally nimble and capable of complex movements. "We drew inspiration from nature. Think about the way birds are able to flap and hop to navigate telephone lines," says Soon-Jo Chung, Bren Professor of Aerospace and Control and Dynamical Systems; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Research Scientist. "A complex yet intriguing behavior happens as birds move between walking and flying. We wanted to understand and learn from that." A paper titled "A bipedal walking robot that can fly, slackline, and skateboard" about the LEO robot was published online on October 6 and was featured on the October 2021 cover of Science Robotics. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights CMS Soon-Jo Chung Elena-Sorina Lupu Kyunam Kim Patrick Spieler Alireza Ramezani

Dabiri Appointed to President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology

09-22-21

President Joe Biden has announced the appointment of John O. Dabiri, Centennial Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, to the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). Presidents have established advisory committees of scientists, engineers, and health professionals ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt created his Science Advisory Board in 1933. "We're here to provide whatever input the president needs," Dabiri says. "My understanding is that we'll be meeting pretty frequently, as the president wants science to be a big part of his decision-making process." [Caltech story]

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE John Dabiri

Professor Pellegrino Awarded Torroja Medal

08-09-21

Sergio Pellegrino, Joyce and Kent Kresa Professor of Aerospace and Civil Engineering; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Senior Research Scientist; Co-Director, Space-Based Solar Power Project, has been awarded the Torroja Medal from the International Association of Shell and Spatial Structures (IASS). The engraved medal represents the highest individual recognition given by the Association to members or nonmembers of the Association in recognition of outstanding and distinguished contributions to design, construction or research of shell and/or spatial structures. [Past recipients]

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE Sergio Pellegrino

Launch of a new era or flights of fancy? Branson, Bezos ventures may open space travel to all

07-28-21

The space travel pursuits by British entrepreneur Richard Branson and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos are evoking awe and wonder among enthusiasts and even casual observers, conjuring visions of a day when such flights may become fairly ordinary. After reaching the edge of space with a five-person crew aboard a spacecraft from his company Virgin Galactic on July 11, Branson said he wanted to “make space more accessible to all.’’ Other advantages include the possibility they could spur new developments that may enhance airline travel and considerably shorten flight times. "Within five years, I would say the people who can afford to fly first class around the world would be able to afford a (space) flight," said Morteza Gharib, Hans W. Liepmann Professor of Aeronautics and Bioinspired Engineering; Booth-Kresa Leadership Chair, Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies; Director, Graduate Aerospace Laboratories; Director, Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies. [USA Today article] [pdf article]

Tags: GALCIT Morteza Gharib

New Algorithm Helps Autonomous Vehicles Find Themselves, Summer or Winter

06-24-21

Without GPS, autonomous systems get lost easily. Now a new algorithm developed at Caltech allows autonomous systems to recognize where they are simply by looking at the terrain around them—and for the first time, the technology works regardless of seasonal changes to that terrain. The general process, known as visual terrain-relative navigation (VTRN), was first developed in the 1960s. By comparing nearby terrain to high-resolution satellite images, autonomous systems can locate themselves. The problem is that, in order for it to work, the current generation of VTRN requires that the terrain it is looking at closely matches the images in its database. To overcome this challenge, Anthony Fragoso, Lecturer in Aerospace; Staff Scientist, Connor Lee, Graduate student in Aerospace, Austin McCoy, Undergraduate, and Soon-Jo Chung, Bren Professor of Aerospace and Control and Dynamical Systems and research scientist at JPL, turned to deep learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to remove seasonal content that hinders current VTRN systems. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT MCE CMS Soon-Jo Chung Anthony Fragoso Connor Lee Austin McCoy

Simon Toedtli Receives 2021 Richard B. Chapman Memorial Award

06-17-21

Simon Toedtli, a graduate student working with Professor Beverley McKeon, is the recipient of the 2021 Richard B. Chapman Memorial Award. His doctoral research combined direct numerical simulations and modal analyses to investigate the physics of closed-loop wall transpiration in a turbulent channel flow and to build low-order flow models for controller design. Both aspects contribute towards the development of drag-reducing control schemes for engineering applications, and will help make future transportation vessels more sustainable. Simon is continuing his studies in fluid mechanics as a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University, where he will work on data assimilation for turbulent flows. The Richard B. Chapman Memorial Award is given to an EAS graduate student in hydrodynamics who has distinguished himself or herself in research.

Tags: honors GALCIT Beverley McKeon Simon Toedtli

Professor Braun Receives National Space Society Space Pioneer Award

06-11-21

Robert D. (Bobby) Braun, Bren Professor of Aerospace, is a recipient of the 2021 National Space Society Space Pioneer Award. This award was given to Professor Braun in recognition of his contributions to the EDL systems and technology. The annual Space Pioneer awards recognize individuals whose accomplishments have helped to open the space frontier. This prestigious award is given to individuals who have made a significant contribution towards the development of, "a spacefaring civilization that will establish communities beyond the Earth.”

Tags: honors GALCIT Robert Braun