The design of new space missions and their use in developing a greater understanding of the dynamical behaviour of Solar System bodies is one of the most active, essential and exciting fields in Astrodynamics. Since the first launch of a spacecraft in 1957, thousands of spacecraft have been used to explore the Earth and the Solar System. Space missions, both human and robotic, gather data and observations that enable new breakthroughs in our understanding of the origin, evolution and future of the Solar system and Earth's place within it. Research into the Solar System also provides insight into the study of exoplanets and the evolution of other planetary systems in the universe.
Closer to home, our society is highly dependent on our use of spacecraft for telecommunications, GPS navigation, TV, internet, climate change observation, global environmental studies, weather prediction, natural disaster warning, and monitoring the security of borders, and land and maritime conditions.
New countries are developing space launch and space exploration capabilities. There are ongoing new technology user needs for navigation, communication, observation, security and monitoring of Earth. Space agencies are developing the technologies and knowledge to send humans to explore beyond the Moon, to Mars and to asteroids. Robotic explorers are seeking evidence for the conditions suitable for life on Mars and Solar system moons. NASA is planning the first mission to capture and bring back a near Earth asteroid and place it in a stable lunar orbit for study.
ESA has multiple missions planned that study the Solar system and the Earth's environment: experiments with new technologies in space; monitoring the Earth's land, oceans and atmosphere; detecting and mitigating against space hazards such as space debris, space weather and NEOs; and studying the universe through orbiting observatories such as GAIA which is surveying one thousand million stars in our Galaxy to provide precise data on positions, distances, motions, and brightness. GAIA is expected to discover extra-solar planets, brown dwarf stars and within the Solar system, ten thousand asteroids.
A Summer School which aims to teach the latest theories, tools and methods of analysis for satellite dynamics and the dynamical explorations of space missions, is therefore timely and relevant. The Summer School Satellite Dynamics and Space Missions: Theory and applications of Celestial Mechanics will focus on three key elements:
the theory and methods of Celestial Mechanics that underpin satellite dynamics and space mission design;
the dynamics of space mission design;
space exploration applications involving Astrodynamics.
Research in n-body gravitational dynamics is the fundamental basis of any study of satellite dynamics and space mission design. Lectures will develop the classical methods of perturbation theory and the theory of Lagrange for secular motions; introduce the theories of Kolmogorov applied to the problem of three bodies and Nekhoroshev's theory regarding exponential stability, give a brief historical excursus on the rediscovery of chaos starting from the first numerical explorations. The lectures on the dynamics of space mission design will include flight dynamics, navigation and mission analysis. The important concepts for spacecraft navigation in unstable and highly perturbed environments will be explored. And, finally, some key examples of space mission explorations will be investigated, leading to the latest research in space debris dynamics, minor-body science, the mechanics of rock-pile asteroids and the tidal evolution of close-in satellites and exoplanets. Taught by lecturers of high-international standing, the summer school Satellite Dynamics and Space Missions: Theory and applications of Celestial Mechanics will bring together many of the brightest young researchers, providing them with a systematic development from the fundamental mathematics which underpin modern studies of regular and chaotic dynamical behaviour to a clear view of the most recent dynamics developments in space mission design and Solar system exploration. It is hoped that the School will enable our young researchers to study and solve some of the real and challenging problems facing the future.
The school will be held consecutively with the CELMEC VII meeting and share the same venue (San Martino al Cimino, Viterbo, Italy). This small city, about 60 km from Rome, has housed CELMEC for several years and has proven an ideal location. The School is scheduled for the week immediately before CELMEC, not only facilitating the organization but also providing a backdrop that will help assure the assistance of potential students and young researchers.