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Low Energy Orbits In the Solar System, Intel Science Talent Winner Describes Her Work
lyford
post Mar 19 2010, 12:42 AM
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Erika DeBenedictis, 18, of Albuquerque, N.M., with her project developing a software navigation system to help improve spacecraft travel through the solar system.

Debenedictics is talking to the Boeing Company with the hopes of running her software on their equipment, to see how satellites and other spacecraft would react to its station keeping methods. Instead of an astronaut, she now wants to be an aerospace engineer so she can continue her research and make low-energy orbits a reality.

Nobody is funding low-energy orbits right now, but [scientists] think this is a cool area that hasn’t been figured out yet,” she said. “This is a good time for me to be around.”


UMSF FTW!!!! biggrin.gif


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Lyford Rome
"Zis is not nuts, zis is super-nuts!" Mathematician Richard Courant on viewing an Orion test
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Greg Hullender
post Mar 19 2010, 03:21 PM
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Nice to see someone excited about it. The math involved in doing this right is quite involved, though, so I suspect her simulation doesn't really work correctly, although it's cool she built it anyway.
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lyford
post Mar 19 2010, 07:11 PM
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Yes, I know less about orbital mechanics than I do about almost anything, but her article did lead me on a very fruitful journal hunt in a quest for self enlightenment. I couldn't say one way or another about how good her simulation is, though smarter folks than me must have been impressed if she won the award.

Her desire to be an engineer rather than an astronaut is what really struck me as a good entry for this forum. ")


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Lyford Rome
"Zis is not nuts, zis is super-nuts!" Mathematician Richard Courant on viewing an Orion test
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stevesliva
post Mar 19 2010, 07:31 PM
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QUOTE (lyford @ Mar 19 2010, 03:11 PM) *
I couldn't say one way or another about how good her simulation is, though smarter folks than me must have been impressed if she won the award.


I was thinking that too. It looks like there are supposed to be three reviewers practised in the field in addition to the direct advisor, and then that would be followed by additional judging to determine the winners across disciplines. There's got to be some novelty to this that informed people don't think is a mistake.
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jekbradbury
post Mar 19 2010, 11:56 PM
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I had the opportunity to talk to Erika at the public session for Intel finalists last Sunday and highly doubt that any of her mathematics is in error - she's been doing this for years at a very, very high level, and there were over a dozen experts walking around asking pertinent questions to each finalist. A predecessor to this project was third in the computer science category at Intel's other science fair (ISEF) two years ago; that paper is available here. The difference between the new work and that paper (besides the scope of trajectories analyzed) is the addition of continuous propulsion to the simulation (either solar sail or ion engine), which, for instance, drops the minimum-energy transfer time to Venus from about 100 years to around four.
In any case, I'll try to get Erika to come here and post something if possible; I think those of you with more expertise in this area will be interested in what she has to say.
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stevesliva
post Mar 20 2010, 01:19 AM
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QUOTE (jekbradbury @ Mar 19 2010, 07:56 PM) *
that paper is available here.


I won't pretend to follow that. blink.gif But the description of creatively escaping Earth orbit reminds me of ISEE-3/ICE.
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