An application of visual analytics to spacecraft trajectory design

Wayne R Schlei, Purdue University


Recent developments in astrodynamics suggest a wealth of design potential within the context of the circular restricted three-body problem. Exploitation of the expanding dynamical and mathematical insights, though, has been difficult to capture in a real-time design setting. Emerging from the ability to represent large amounts of information through visual environments, visual analytics is a new science that focuses on the application of graphical depictions to facilitate discovery. Moreover, visual analytics blends the science of analytical reasoning with the implementation of interactive visual interfaces. This investigation blends the fundamental elements of trajectory design in multi-body regimes with the implementation of visual analytics, thereby merging visualization tools, differential corrections algorithms, and the intuition of a knowledgeable designer into one expansive design approach. The application of visual analytics to spacecraft trajectory design then supplies a tool for rapid investigation and design with access to a wider range of options for the construction of trajectories that meet mission requirements. ^ A process for the visual construction of initial guesses that seed targeting algorithms is developed in conjunction with the instant application of a corrections module that offers various options. An interactive definition of Poincaré sections in various subspaces is accomplished with visual transformation tools; implementation of a graphics processing unit (GPU) for computation expedites the generation of Poincaré maps. End-to-end spacecraft trajectories are designed that exploit the asymptotic flow and chaotic behavior in the circular restricted three-body problem with the application of visual analytics.^




Kathleen C. Howell, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Engineering, Aerospace|Computer Science

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