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    ASTEROIDS Laboratory

    University of Arizona

    Adventure Awaits.

    UA ASTEROID Lab
    NASA Partner
    Arizona
    Planets Asteroid Surface Missions CubeSat Centrifuge Asteroid Mission Concepts Asteroid Science ISRU and Propulsion Space Threats
  • video_typing_cover

    ASTEROIDS Laboratory

    University of Arizona

    Adventure Awaits.
    NASA Partner
    Arizona
    Planets Asteroid Surface Missions CubeSat Centrifuge Asteroid Mission Concepts Asteroid Science ISRU and Propulsion Space Threats
  • video_typing_cover

    ASTEROIDS Laboratory

    University of Arizona

    Adventure Awaits.
    NASA Partner
    Arizona
    Planets Asteroid Surface Missions CubeSat Centrifuge Asteroid Mission Concepts Asteroid Science ISRU and Propulsion Space Threats

Our Mission

The NASA-funded ASTEROIDS Laboratory (Asteroid Science, Technology and Exploration Research Organized by Inclusive eDucation Systems) is a multi-disciplinary establishment housed at University of Arizona seeking to integrate research with education to help build a diverse, scientifically literate citizenry and a well-prepared science, engineering, and technology workforce.

We aim to provide University of Arizona undergraduates majoring in science and engineering, especially those traditionally underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the opportunity to broaden their education with a rich, hands-on experience and the full process of inquiry and discovery. Research and education will focus on utilizing planetary science principles for conceiving, implementing and validating space technologies, from systems design and control solutions, to robots and sensor networks, to mobility and excavation on small bodies.

Our Team with Big Ideas

Interdisciplinary Expertise in Asteroid Technology, Science and Exploration

Dr. Jekan Thanga
Assistant Professor, Principal Investigator, UA

Expertise HTML icon
  • Space Systems Design
  • AI/ML/Neural Networks Dynamics and Control
  • Network Robotics and Control
  • PEM Fuel Cells
  • Hydrogen Storage
Research Interests HTML icon
  • CubeSat Swarms
  • Machine Learning for Robot Design and Control
  • Extreme Environment Mobility Systems
  • Interplanetary CubeSat Propulsion
  • Inflatable Structures for Space
  • Mobile Power Supplies
  • Interplanetary CubeSat Missions
Bio HTML icon

Professor Jekan Thanga has 20 years of experience working in the aerospace research sector and is a senior member of the AIAA. He has been an expert reviewer for government agencies, including NASA and NSF, and has been a Subject Matter Expert (SME) on space matters for DoD organizations. He has developed and participated in innovative, inclusive, student-centric research, design and education programs at 4 universities over the past 15 years. This includes the Da Vinci Engineering Enrichment Program (DEEP) at University of Toronto, Khan Academy Science and Engineering Video Lesson Development Project at MIT, NASA SpaceGrant student mentorship program at ASU and University of Arizona and Undergraduate and Graduate Research Experience Programs at ASU and University of Arizona. His predominant focus has been space systems design engineering and over the years, he has mentored over 100 high-school students and 60 university students who have gone onto work in leading positions throughout the aerospace, defense, and IT sectors. A major focus of his research and education program is to tackle the gender-imbalance, raise education enrollment of under-represented minorities and first-in-the-family university going students in aerospace and engineering research. This had started with summer enrichment programs at University of Toronto in 2004 to the current NASA-supported MIRO Program at University of Arizona in 2019. From 2003 to 2008, Jekan was head TA for the Undergraduate Aircraft Design Capstone Class. Under his plan, he saw to it that every aircraft design got to fly on fly-off day. He co-developed the Interplanetary CubeSat Design Class for graduate students, that brought together aspiring planetary scientists, astronomers and engineering students from aerospace, electrical, mechanical engineering. The course included NASA scientist and engineers as student team mentors and incorporated NASA JPL Team Xc Review Sessions as part of the project Critical Design Review (CDR).

He obtained his bachelor’s in engineering science (Aerospace Major) from the University of Toronto. He worked on Canadarm, Canadarm 2, and the DARPA Orbital Express missions at MDA Space Missions. Jekan obtained his Ph.D. in space robotics at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS) and did a postdoc at MIT’s Field and Space Robotics Laboratory (FSRL). Jekan is broadly interested in the exploration of space and extreme environments, using networks of robots, interplanetary CubeSats, and smart sensors. His research focuses on developing enabling technologies that span system design, propulsion, networking, and power to permit smart, fully autonomous operation for long durations. This is achieved through Multi-Disciplinary Optimization (MDO) using a combination of conventional, adaptive, and bio-inspired neuro-evolutionary methods resulting in high performance, unconventional design, and control solutions that would otherwise not be envisioned by a human designer. His research covers the investigation of fundamental theoretical concepts with simulation using computational tools, culminating with field trials and deployment. He and his team of students and postdocs have co-authored over 120 peer-reviewed publications and won several recent awards including the Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award in 2016, co-author of Student Best Paper Award 2nd Place at AAS GNC in 2017, MBR Mars Settlement Challenge Winner in 2018, co-author of Student Best Paper Award 3rd Place at AAS GNC in 2018, co-author of Best Paper Presentation Award at AMOS in 2019 and a mentor of a Top 10 Finalist Team at NASA BIG Competition 2020 consisting of the Colorado School of Mines and Univ. of Arizona students.

Dr. Erik Asphaug
Professor, Deputy Principal Investigator, UA

Expertise HTML icon
  • Planetary Surfaces
  • Asteroid and Comets
  • Planetary Formation
  • Giant Impacts
  • Space Missions
Bio HTML icon

Professor Asphaug studies planet and satellite formation, including giant impacts such as that which formed the Moon. The ensuing diversity of planets is the subject of his book When the Earth Had Two Moons (HarperCollins, 2019). He also studies "small bodies" (asteroids, comets and satellites) that are leftovers of accretion, working to understand their formation and evolution, low-gravity geology, and activity and surface patterns. He participates in laboratory research looking into the strength properties of meteorites, and theoretical research into the origin of chondrules. Over the years, thanks to motivated students, he has also explored crater lakes and patterned ground on Mars, the delivery of volatiles to the lunar surface, and bombardment of Saturn's rings. He was on the Galileo and LCROSS missions, and is on the science teams of upcoming missions to asteroids Psyche and Didymos, and to the Martian moons. He leads the Comet Radar Explorer (CORE) mission concept, proposed twice to NASA Discovery, to obtain a high definition medical-like scan of a comet nucleus interior, and is helping to develop an instrument that would make seismic imaging of small body interiors a remote-sensing investigation. In SpaceTREx he is helping to develop innovative low cost approaches to exploration, and the AOSAT cubesat centrifuge that will mimic the low but non-zero gravity of asteroids.

Dr. Greg Ogden
Research Associate Professor, Co-Investigator, UA

Expertise HTML icon
  • Renewable Fuels
  • Green Propellants
  • Extreme Environment Mobility Systems
  • Autonomous Vehicles
  • Sustainable Manufacturing
Bio HTML icon

Dr. Greg Ogden has over 30 years experience in process design, facility management, environmental remediation and novel technology development. He is the Manager and Founder of Ogden Engineering & Associates, LLC and has served as the project manager multiple SBIR/STTR Phase I and Phase II projects involving the development of a hypergolic green fuels, evaluating their insensitive munitions (IM) characteristics, converting crop seed oils to jet fuel and designing high-temperature, high-pressure reactors for characterizing thermal decomposition of concentrated hydrogen peroxide. Dr. Ogden has extensive high-temperature design and fabrication experience. Dr. Ogden currently serves as the Unit Operations Laboratory Director overseeing upgrading and maintaining undergraduate experiments for the Department of chemical & Environmental Engineering. He mentors capstone engineering design teams and owns a technology company involved with developing green propellants, autonomous sensors and renewable fuels. Current space related research projects include design, fabrication and testing of a lightweight reusable upper stage rocket.


Dr. Dennis Just
Professor, Co-Investigator, Pima College

Expertise HTML icon
  • Astrophysics
  • Optical and X-ray Astronomy
  • Multi-object Spectroscopy
Research Interests HTML icon
  • Galaxy Evolutiom
  • Galaxy Clusters
  • Quasars and AGN
Bio HTML icon

Professor Dennis Just received Bachelor's degrees in physics and astrophysics from Penn State University in 2007 and his Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Arizona in 2012. His research focused on the formation of S0 galaxies and the influence of environment. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Toronto researching the evolution of galaxy clusters, he joined Pima Community College's faculty in 2015. Just led the college's ASCEND program from 2017 to 2018, supervising student-built meteorological payloads that were launched on high-altitude balloons from central Arizona as part of NASA's Space Grant program. He is now head of the Astronomy and Physics departments at the college and a co-host of the popular spaceflight podcast The Orbital Mechanics.

Dr. Desiree Cotto-Figueroa
Associate Professor, Co-Investigator, UPR Humacao

Expertise HTML icon
  • Asteroid Dynamics
  • Asteroid Photometry
  • Asteroid Thermophysical Modeling
  • The Yarkovsky and YORP effects
  • The Yarkovsky and YORP effects
Research Interests HTML icon
  • Characterization of Asteroids
  • Dynamical Evolution of Asteroids
  • Asteroid Fragmentation
  • Planetary Defense
  • Small Spacecraft Missions
Bio HTML icon

Dr. Desireé Cotto-Figueroa is an Associate Professor at the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao (UPRH). She obtained her Ph.D in Physics at Ohio University and did a postdoc at the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University. Her research focuses on the study of Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) including their characterization and the study of radiation recoil effects on their dynamical evolution. Her more recent effort consists of measuring the mechanical and physical properties of meteorites, in order to span the spatial scale from centimeter-scale meteorites to make predictions about the behavior of much larger specimens of the same or similar material in space, and to develop a comprehensive dataset that will enable the most detailed numerical simulations of asteroid disruption and fragmentation. She is also an Investigation Team Member of the NASA Near-Earth Object Surveillance Mission (NEOSM). Asteroid (11456) Cotto-Figueroa has been named in her honor.

Dr. Joseph Maseiro
Research Scientist, Co-Investigator, NASA JPL

Layne Crawford
Program Manager

Bio HTML icon

Layne Crawford graduated from University of Arizona with a degree in Geosciences and an emphasis on earth science education. During her time at UA, Layne interned with the NASA-LPL mission HiRISE as a Space Grant intern, in addition to her research with The RRUFF Project. She spent the next several years teaching astronomy and earth science at a Tucson-area high school, while collaborating on research regarding hybrid language practices in secondary science classrooms. She has spent the last five years working for UA Admissions, helping to grow to serve and grow each year’s incoming online, distance campus, and engineering cohorts of students.

Dr. Stephen Schwartz
Technical Program Manager and Scientist

Dr. Byong Kwon
Postdoctoral Fellow

Ravi Teja Nallapu
PhD Candidate

Himangshu Kalita
PhD Candidate

Leonard Vance
PhD Candidate

Alvaro Diaz
PhD Student

Yinan Xu
Masters Candidate Researcher

Tristan Schuler
Masters Candidate Researcher

Steven Anderson
Masters Candidate Researcher

Jose Fernandez
Masters Graduate

Devon Schmitt
Masters Candidate Researcher

32

Publications

19

Publications Submitted

13

Abstracts

15

Projects

12

Awards

5

Patents and Inventions

7

Grants

45

Presentations

7

Faculty/Staff

20

Researchers

5

Masters Reports/Theses and PhD Theses

18

Alumni Network

All civilizations become either space-faring or extinct.

Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot

Research Themes

Opportunities for students in theory development, experiment design, mission concept development, systems engineering design, instrumentation development, integration and testing in asteroid science, technology and exploration.

Geohistory
Solar System Formation

Prof. Erik Asphaug directs the lab’s scientific research that is related to planet formation and evolution, the physics of collisions, asteroid geologic structure, surface morphology, and granular mechanics.

In-Situ Resource Utilization
Materials Testing & Analysis

Analysis of the geomechanical properties of meteorites which derive from NEAs—meteorites that will fly as payload onboard the AOSATs, with a focus on water extraction, purification and propellant production, both in the lab and onboard the AOSAT platform and ultimately on asteroids themselves

Security/Deflection
Near Earth Asteroids

Prof. Cotto-Figuero and Dr. Joseph Masiero head the research activities related to observing, detecting and tracking small asteroids. They are exploring new ways to automate detection and tracking using machine learning and vision algorithms.

All
Clean Room
Vacuum Chamber
3D Printing
Air Table
Machining
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Publications


Encylopedia Article

  • Thangavelautham, J., Sustainable and Green Power Sources for Long Duration Environment Monitoring, Encyclopedia of Renewable and Sustainable Materials, Elsevier, New York, NY, 2018, 

Book Chapters

  • Thangavelautham, J., Degradation in PEM Fuel Cells and Mitigation Strategies Using System Design and Control, Chapter 5, Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells, Tanner, T.,  Editor, Intech, Vienna, Austria, 2018, pp. 63–95. (PDF)
  • Thangavelautham, J., Grouchy, P., D’Eleuterio, G.M.T., Application of Coarse-Coding Techniques for Evolvable Multirobot Controllers, Chapter 16, Computational Intelligence in Optimization-Applications and Implementations, Tenne, Y., C-K., Goh,  Editors, Vol. 7, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Germany, 2010, pp. 381–412. (PDF)
  • Thangavelautham, J., Barfoot, T., D’Eleuterio, G.M.T., Evolutionary-Based Control Approaches for Multirobot Systems, Chapter 3, Frontiers in Evolutionary Robotics, Iba, H, Editor, Advanced Robotics Systems International, Vienna, Austria, 2008.  (PDF)

Conference Papers

    2020

    • Vance, L., Thangavelautham, J. “Use of Active Laser Detector for Orbital Debris Avoidance,” Submitted to IEEE Aerospace Conference, 2021.
    • Xu, Y., Thangavelautham, J., “Cooperative Lunar Site Preparation and Construction Using Ground Robots and Flying Robots,” Submitted to IEEE Aerospace Conference, 2021.
    • Kalita, H., Thangavelautham, J., “Lunar Pits and Lava Tubes for Human Bases,” Submitted to IEEE Aerospace Conference, 2021.(
    • Alvaro, D., Thangavelautham, J., “FemtoSats for Exploring Permanently Shadowed Regions on the Moon,” Submitted to IEEE Aerospace Conference, 2021. NASA BIG Competition 2020 Top 10 Finalist
    • Vance, L., Thangavelautham, J., “Development of Techniques Enabling Suborbital Small Object Capture Around Low Gravity Asteroids,” Submitted to Scitech Conference, 2021.
    • Vance, L., Thangavelautham, J., “Remote Spectroscopy of Asteroids for In-Situ Resource Utilization,” Submitted to Earth and Space Conference, Seattle, WA, 2021
    • Anderson, S., Marquez, A., Thangavelautham, J.,“Solar 3D Printing of Structures for Off-World Bases,” Submitted to Earth and Space Conference, Seattle, WA, 2021
    • Himangshu, K., Thangavelautham, J., “Evaluation of Lunar Pits and Lava Tubes for Use as Human Habitats,” Submitted to Earth and Space Conference, Seattle, WA, 2021
    • Thangavelautham, J., Yu, X., “Modelling Excavation, Site-Preparation and Construction of a Lunar Mining Base Using Robot Swarms,” Submitted to Earth and Space Conference, Seattle, WA, 2021
    • Schwartz, S, Thangavelautham, J., Asphaug, E., Nallapu, R., “AOSAT: A Low-cost Centrifuge Laboratory in Low-Earth Orbit,” submitted to iSAIRIS Conference, 2020.
    • Kwon, B., Thangavelautham, J., “Multi-Robot 3D Coverage Path Planning for Inspecting Space Structures,” submitted to iSAIRIS Conference, 2020.
    • Xu, Y., Thangavelautham, J., “Co-Evolution of Multi-Robot Controllers and Task Cues for Off-World Open Pit Mining,” submitted to iSAIRIS Conference, 2020.
    • Kalita, H., Thangavelautham, J., “Design for Long Duration Missions Using a Team of SphereX Robots, ” submitted to iSAIRIS Conference, 2020.
    • Schuler, T., Kukkala, K., Vilvanathan, V., Thangavelautham, J., “ CubeSat System Design for Mars Exploratory Balloon (MEB), ” submitted to iSAIRIS Conference, 2020.
    • Moses, R., Kalita, H., Thangavelautham, J., “GNC of Shape Morphing Microbots for Planetary Exploration,” 43rd AAS Guidance and Control Conference, CO, 2020. (PDF)
    • Nallapu, R., Schwartz, S., Asphaug, E., Thangavelautham, J., “ Advancing Asteroid Spacecraft GNC Technology Using Student Built CubeSat Centrifuge Laboratories, ” 43rd AAS Guidance and Control Conference, CO, 2020 (PDF)
    • Kwon, B., Thangavelautham, J., “ Decentralized Spacecraft Swarms for Inspection of Large Space Structures, ” Proceedings of the 42nd AAS Rocky Mountain, Section Guidance and Control Conference, February 2, 2020. (PDF)
    • Ravindran, A., Vance, L., Thangavelautham, J., “Modeling, Control and Laboratory Testing of an Electromagnetic Docking System for Small Satellites,” AAS Guidance and Control Conference, CO, 2020.(PDF)
    • Kalita, H., Aldava, F., Asphaug, E., Thangavelautham, J., “Evolving Design and Mobility of a Spacecraft on Stilts to Explore Asteroids,” 43rd AAS Guidance and Control Conference, CO, 2020.(PDF)
    • Schuler, T., Shkarayev, S., Thangavelautham, J., “ CubeSat System Design for Mars Exploratory Balloon (MEB), ” 43rd AAS Guidance and Control Conference, CO, 2020. (PDF)
    • Nallapu, R., Xu, Y., Marquez, A., Schuler,T., Thangavelautham, J., “ The Design of a Space-based Observation and Tracking System for Interstellar Objects, ” 43rd AAS Guidance and Control Conference, CO, 2020 (PDF)
    • Kalita, H., Thangavelautham, J., “Mobility, Power and Thermal Control of SphereX for Planetary Exploration,” 43rd AAS Guidance and Control Conference, CO, 2020.(PDF)
    • Thangavelautham, J., “Autonomous Robot Teams for Lunar Mining Base Construction and Operation,” IEEE Aerospace Conference 2020, Big Sky, MT, 2020.(PDF)
    • Kalita, H., Thangavelautham, J., “Dynamics and Control of a Hopping Robot for Extreme Environment Exploration on the Moon and Mars,” IEEE Aerospace Conference 2020, Big Sky, MT, 2020.(PDF)
    • Kalita, H., Jameson, T., Stancu, G., Thangavelautham, J., “Design and Control of a Mechanical Hopping Mechanism Suited for Exploring Low-gravity Environments, ” IEEE Aerospace Conference 2020, Big Sky, MT, 2020.(PDF)
    • Kwon, B., Thangavelautham, J., “ Autonomous Coverage Path Planning Using Artificial Neural Tissue for Aerospace Applications, ” IEEE Aerospace Conference Proceedings, Big Sky, Montana, March 13, 2020. (PDF)
    • Nallapu, R., Vance, L., Xu, Y., Thangavelautham, J., “Automated Design Architecture for Lunar Constellations, ” IEEE Aerospace Conference 2020, Big Sky, MT, 2020. (PDF)
    • Moses, R., Thangavelautham, J., “ Shape Morphing for Planetary Exploration, ” IEEE Aerospace Conference 2020, Big Sky, MT, 2020. (PDF)
    • Kalita, H., Thangavelautham, J., “Multidisciplinary Design and Control Optimization of a Spherical Robot for Planetary Exploration,” 2020 AIAA SciTech Forum, Orlando, FL, 2020.(PDF) Patent Filed
    • Vance, L. Nallapu, R., Thangavelautham, J., “Solar Sailing Fundamentals with an Exploration of Trajectory Control to Lunar Halo Orbit,” 2020 AIAA SciTech Forum, Orlando, FL, 2020.(PDF)
    • Thangavelautham, J., “Autonomous Robot Swarms for Off-World Construction and Resource Mining,” 2020 AIAA SciTech Forum, Orlando, FL, 2020.(PDF)
    • Nallapu, R., Thangavelautham, J., “ Design of Spacecraft Swarm Flybys for Planetary Moon Exploration, ” 2020 AIAA SciTech Forum, Orlando, FL, 2020. (PDF) Patent Filed
    • Kalita, H., Thangavelautham, J., “Lunar CubeSat Lander to Explore Mare Tranquilitatis Pit” 2020 AIAA SciTech Forum, Orlando, FL, 2020.(PDF) Patent Filed

    2019

    • Thangavelautham, J., Chandra, A., Jensen, E., “Autonomous Multirobot Technologies for Mars Mining Base Construction and Operation,” 70th International Astronautic Congress, 2019.(PDF)
    • Nallapu, R., Thangavelautham, J., “ Towards End to End Design of Spacecraft Swarms for Small-Body Reconnaissance, ” 70th International Astronautic Congress, 2019. (PDF)
    • Kalita, H., Thangavelautham, J., “Automated Multidisciplinary Design and Control of Hopping Robot Swarms for Exploration of Extreme Environments on the Moon and Mars,” 70th International Astronautic Congress, 2019.(PDF)
    • Bouskela, A., Chandra, A., Shkrayev, S., Thangavelautham, J., “ Planetary Exploration Using CubeSat Deployed Sailplanes,” 70th International Astronautic Congress, 2019.(PDF)
    • Schwartz, S., Asphaug, E., Thangavelautham, J., “Investigating Asteroid Surface Geophysics with an Ultra-Low-Gravity Centrifuge in Low-Earth Orbit” 70th International Astronautic Congress, 2019.(PDF)
    • Wilburn, G., Schwartz, S., Asphaug, E., Thangavelautham, J., “ Development and Testing of an Engineering Model for an Asteroid Hopping Robot, ” 70th International Astronautic Congress, 2019. (PDF)
    • Nallapu, R., Thangavelautham, J., “ Cooperative Multi-spacecraft Observation of Incoming Space Threats, ” Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference, 2019 ( Best Paper Presentation Award ). (PDF)
    • Morad, S., Kalita, H., Nallapu, R., Thangavelautham, J., “Building Small-Satellites to Live Through the Kessler Effect, ”Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference, 2019.(PDF)
    • Kalita, H., Vance, L., Reddy, V., Thangavelautham, J., “Use of Laser Beams to Configure and Command Spacecraft Swarms,” 42nd AAS Guidance and Control Conference, 2019. (PDF) Patent Filed
    • Kalita, H., Furfaro, R., Hamilton, C., Asphaug, E., Thangavelautham, J., “GNC Challenges and Opportunities of CubeSat Science Missions Deployed from the Lunar Gateway,” 42nd AAS Guidance and Control Conference, 2019. (PDF)
    • Martinez, J., Thangavelautham, J., “GNC of Interplanetary Spacecraft Utilizing Water-Steam Propulsion,” 42nd AAS Guidance and Control Conference, 2019. (PDF)
    • Kalita, H., Thangavelautham, J., “Motion Planning on an Asteroid with Irregular Gravity Fields,” 42nd AAS Guidance and Control Conference, 2019. (PDF)
    • Chandra, A., Shakarayev, S., Thangavelautham, J., “Attitude Control of an Inflatable Aircraft for Mars Exploration,” 42nd AAS Guidance and Control Conference, 2019. (PDF)
    • Vance, L., Asphaug, E., Thangavelautham, J., “An autonomous passive navigation method for nanosatellite exploration of the asteroid belt,” 42nd AAS Guidance and Control Conference, 2019. (PDF)
    • Nallapu, R., Thangavelautham, J., “Spacecraft Swarm Attitude Control for Small Body Surface Observation,” 42nd AAS Guidance and Control Conference, 2019. (PDF)
    • Wilburn, G., Himangshu, K., Chandra, A., Schwartz, S., Asphaug, E., Thangavelautham, J. “Guidance, Navigation and Control of Asteroid Mobile Imager and Geologic Observer (AMIGO),” 42nd AAS Guidance and Control Conference, 2019. (PDF)Student Best Paper Award, 3rd Place
    • Chandra, A., Kalita, H., Furfaro, R., Thangavelautham, J., “End to End Satellite Servicing and Space Debris Management,” Space Traffic Management Conference, 2019. (PDF)
    • Kalita, H., Vance, D., Reddy, V., Thangavelautham, J., “Lasers for Communication and Coordination Control of Spacecraft Swarms,” Space Traffic Management Conference, 2019. (PDF) Patent Filed
    • Chandra, A., Wilburn, G., Thangavelautham, J., “Advanced Inflatable De-Orbit Solutions for Derelict Satellites and Orbital Debris,” Space Traffic Management Conference, 2019. (PDF)
    • Vance, L., Asphaug, E., Thangavelautham,. J., “Evaluation of Mother-Daughter Architectures for Asteroid Belt Exploration,” AIAA Science and Technology Forum and Exposition, 2019. (PDF)
    • Kalita, H., Morad, S., Thangavelautham, J., “Coordination and Control of Multiple Climbing Robots in Transporting Heavy Loads through Extreme Terrain,” AIAA Science and Technology Forum and Exposition, 2019. (PDF)
    • Wilburn, G., Thangavelautham, J., “A Milli-newton Propulsion System for the Asteroid Mobile Imager and Geologic Observer,” IEEE Aerospace Conference, 2019. (PDF)
    • Vance, L., Chandra, A., Schwartz, S., Kalita, H., Nallapu, R., Asphaug, E., Thangavelautham, J., “An On-Orbit CubeSat Centrifuge for Asteroid Science and Exploration,” IEEE Aerospace Conference, 2019. (PDF)
    • Chandra, A., Babuscia, A., Thangavelautham, J., “Modular Inflatable Composites for Large Space Observatories,” IEEE Aerospace Conference, 2019. (PDF)
    • Morad, S., Chandra, A., Thangavelautham, J., “A Spring Powered Extreme Environment Robot for Off-World Cave Exploration,” IEEE Aerospace Conference, 2019. (PDF)
    • Nallapu, R., Thangavelautham, J., “Attitude Control of CubeSat Swarm for Visual Mapping of Planetary Bodies,” IEEE Aerospace Conference, 2019. (PDF)

    2018

    • Chandra, A., Thangavelautham, J., Babuscia, A., “Composite Inflatable Antennas for Small-Satellite and Backup Communication,” 24th Ka-band and Broadband Communications Conference, Niagara Falls,Canada, 2018. (PDF)
    • Nallapu, R., Kalita, H., Thangavelautham, J., “On-Orbit Meteor Impact Monitoring Using CubeSat Swarms,” Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference, 2018. (PDF)
    • Chandra, A., Thangavelautham, J., “De-orbiting Small Satellites Using Inflatables,” Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference, 2018. (PDF)
    • Kalita, H., Furfaro, R., Thangavelautham, J., “Satellite Capture and Servicing Using Networks of Tethered Robots Supported by Ground Surveillance,” Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference, 2018. (PDF)
    • Morad, S., Nallapu, R., Kalita, H., Kwon, B., Reddy, V., Furfaro, R., Asphaug, E., Thangavelautham, J., “On-Orbit Smart Camera System to Observe Illuminated and Unilluminated Space Objects,” Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference, 2018. (PDF)
    • Kalita, H., Reddy, V., Thangavelautham, J., “Laser Beam for External Position Control and Traffic Management of On-Orbit Satellites,” Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference, 2018. Patent Filed
    • Kalita, H., Ravindran, A., Thangavelautham, J., “Exploration and Utilization of Asteroids as Interplanetary Communication Relays,” Proceedings of the IEEE Aerospace Conference, 2018. (PDF)
    • Chandra, A., Thangavelautham, J. “Modular Inflatable Space Structures,” Proceedings of the IEEE Aerospace Conference, 2018. (PDF)
    • Kalita, H., Ravindran, A., Morad, S., Thangavelautham, J. “Path Planning and Navigation Inside Off-World Lava Tubes and Caves,” IEEE/ION PLANS Conference, 2018. (PDF)
    • Schwartz, S., Nallapu, R., Reddy, V., Thangavelautham, J., “Navigating to Small-Bodies using Small Satellites,” IEEE/ION PLANS Conference, 2018. (PDF)
    • Morad, S., Kalita, H., Thangavelautham, J., “Planning and Navigation of Climbing Robots in Low-Gravity Environments,” IEEE/ION PLANS Conference, 2018. (PDF)
    • Nallapu, R., Ravindran, A., Kalita, H., Hernandez, V., Reddy, V., Furfaro, R., Asphaug, E., Thangavelautham, J., “Smart Camera System Onboard a CubeSat for Space-based Object Reentry and Tracking,” IEEE/ION PLANS Conference, 2018. (PDF)
    • Kalita, H., Nallapu, R., Schwartz, S.,Asphaug, E., Thangavelautham, J., “Mobility and Science Operations on an Asteroid Using a Hopping Small Spacecraft on Stilts,” 41st AAS Guidance and Control Conference, 2018. (PDF)
    • Nallapu, R., Ravindran, A.,Kalita, H., Thangavelautham, J., “Vision-based Tracking Controller for an On-Orbit Meteor Observer,” 41st AAS Guidance and Control Conference, 2018. (PDF)
    • Kalita, H., Furfaro, R., Thangavelautham, J., “On-Orbit Satellite Servicing using Multiple Tethered Robots,” 41st AAS Guidance and Control Conference, 2018. (PDF)

    2017

    • Kalita, H., Schwartz, S., Asphaug, E., Thangavelautham, J., “Network of Nano-Landers for In-situ Characterization of Asteroid Impact Studies,” Proceedings of the 68th International Astronautic Congress, 2017. (PDF)
    • Fleetwood, G., Thangavelautham, J., “An Information Theoretic Approach to Sample Acquisition and Perception in Planetary Robotics,” Proceedings of the Adaptive Hardware and Systems Conference, 2017. (PDF) Outstanding Honors Thesis
    • Kalita, H., Thangavelautham, J., “Multirobot Cliff Climbing on Low-Gravity Environments,” Proceedings of the Adaptive Hardware and Systems Conference, 2017. (PDF)
    • Ravindran, A., Nallapu, R., Warren, A., Babuscia, A., Vazsco, J., Thangavelautham, J., “An Experimental Platform for Multi-spacecraft Phase-Array Communications,” IEEE Cognitive Communications for Aerospace Applications Workshop, 2017. (PDF)
    • Nallapu, R., Tallapragada, A., Thangavelautham, J.,“Radiometric Actuators for Spacecraft Attitude Control,” Proceedings of the IEEE Aerospace Conference, IEEE, Bozeman, Montana, 2017. (PDF)
    • Guo X., Thangavelautham, J.,“Novel Use of Photovoltaics for Backup Spacecraft Laser Communication,” Proceedings of the IEEE Aerospace Conference, IEEE, Bozeman, Montana, 2017. (PDF) Patent Awarded
    • Babuscia, A., Sauder, J., Chandra, A., Thangavelautham, J.,“Inflatable Antenna for CubeSats: A New Spherical Design for Increased X-band Gain,” Proceedings of the IEEE Aerospace Conference, IEEE, Bozeman, Montana, 2017.
    • Raura, L., Warren, A., Thangavelautham, J., “Spherical Planetary Robot for Rugged Terrain Traversal,” Proceedings of the IEEE Aerospace Conference, IEEE, Bozeman, Montana, 2017.(PDF)
    • Gankidi, P., Thangavelautham, J., “FPGA Architecture for Deep Learning and its application to Planetary Robotics,” Proceedings of the IEEE Aerospace Conference, IEEE, Bozeman, Montana, 2017. (PDF)
    • Nallapu, R., Shah, S., Asphaug, E., Thangavelautham, J.,“Attitude Control of the Asteroid Origins Satellite I (AOSAT 1),” 40th AAS Guidance, Navigation and Control Conference, AAS, Breckenridge, Colorado, 2017. (PDF)
    • Thangavelautham, J., Rhoden, A., Drew, J.,“The Opportunities and Challenges of GNC on a Europa CubeSat Mission Concept,” 40th AAS Guidance, Navigation and Control Conference, AAS, Breckenridge, Colorado, 2017. (PDF)
    • Nallapu, R., Asphaug, E., Thangavelautham, J.,“Guidance, Navigation and Control of a Bucket Wheel for Surface Mining of Asteroids and Small-Bodies,” 40th AAS Guidance, Navigation and Control Conference, AAS, Breckenridge, Colorado, 2017. (PDF)
    • Schwartz, S., Ichikawa, S., Gankidi, P., Kenia, N., Dektor, G., Thangavelautham, J.,“Optical Navigation for Interplanetary CubeSats,” 40th AAS Guidance, Navigation and Control Conference, AAS, Breckenridge, Colorado, 2017.(PDF)
    • Kalita, H., Nallapu, R., Thangavelautham, J., “GNC of the SphereX Robot for Extreme Environment Exploration on Mars,” 40th AAS Guidance, Navigation and Control Conference, AAS, Breckenridge, Colorado, 2017. (PDF)
    • Sonawane, N., Thangavelautham, J.,“Precision Pointing of Antennas in Space using Arrays of Shape Memory Alloy based Linear Actuators,” 40th AAS Guidance, Navigation and Control Conference, AAS, Breckenridge, Colorado, 2017. (PDF)
    • Kalita, H., Nallapu, R., Warren, A., Thangavelautham, J,“Guidance, Navigation and Control of Multirobot Systems in Cooperative Cliff Climbing,” 40th AAS Guidance, Navigation and Control Conference, AAS, Breckenridge, Colorado, 2017. (PDF), Best Student Paper Award (2nd Place)
    • Rabade, S., Thangavelautham, J., “Combined Thermal Control and GNC: An Enabling Technology for CubeSat Surface Probes and Small Robots,” 40th AAS Guidance, Navigation and Control Conference, AAS, Breckenridge, Colorado, 2017. (PDF)
    • Herreras-Martinez, M., Uglietta, J., Lozes, K., Thangavelautham J.,“Entry, Descent and Landing System for CubeSat Missions to the Moon and Small-bodies,” 40th AAS Guidance, Navigation and Control Conference, AAS, Breckenridge, Colorado, 2017. (PDF) NASA BIG Top 10 Finalist, 2015
    • Nallapu, R., Thangavelautham, J., “Attitude Control of FemtoSats in LEO Using 3-axis Magneto-Torquers,” 40th AAS Guidance, Navigation and Control Conference, AAS, Breckenridge, Colorado, 2017.
    • Nallapu, R., Thangavelautham, J.,“Precise Pointing of CubeSat Telescopes,” 40th AAS Guidance, Navigation and Control Conference, AAS, Breckenridge, Colorado, 2017. (PDF)

    2016

    • Nallapu, R., Thoesen, A., Garvie, L., Asphaug, E., Thangavelautham, J.“Optimized Bucket Wheel Design for Asteroid Excavation,” Proceedings of the 67th International Astronautical Congress, IAF, Guadalajara, Mexico, pp. 1-10, 2016. (PDF)
    • Kalita, H., Thangavelautham, J.,“Automated Design of CubeSats and Small Spacecrafts,” Proceedings of the 67th International Astronautical Congress, IAF, Guadalajara, Mexico, pp. 1-8, 2016. (PDF)
    • Rabade, S., Barba, N., Garvie, L., Thangavelautham, J.,“The Case for Solar Thermal Steam Propulsion System for Interplanetary Travel: Enabling Simplified ISRU Utilizing NEOs and Small Bodies,” Proceedings of the 67th International Astronautical Congress, IAF, Guadalajara, Mexico, pp. 1-12, 2016. (PDF)
    • Hernandez, V., Gankidi, P., Chandra, A., Miller, A., Scowen, P., Barnaby, H., Adamson, E., Asphaug, E., Thangavelautham, J.,8220;SWIMSat: Space Weather and Meteor Impact Monitoring using a Low-Cost 6U CubeSat,” Proceedings of the 30th Annual AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites, AIAA, Logan, Utah, 2016. (PDF)
    • Pothamsetti, R., Thangavelautham, J.“Photovoltaic Electrolysis Propulsion System for Interplanetary CubeSats,” Proceedings of the IEEE Aerospace Conference, IEEE, Bozeman, Montana, 2016. (PDF)
    • Babuscia, A., Sauder, J., Thangavelautham, J., Choi, E., Chandra, A.“Inflatable Antenna for CubeSats: Development of the X-band Prototype,” Proceedings of the IEEE Aerospace Conference, IEEE, Bozeman, Montana, 2016.

    2015 and earlier

    • Babuscia, A., Choi, T., Cheung, K., Thangavelautham, J., Ravichandran, M., Chandra, A., “Inflatable antenna for cubesat: Extension of the previously developed s-band design to the X-band,” AIAA Space, 2015.
    • Thangavelautham, J., Robinson, M., *Taits A., *McKinney, T, *Amidan, S, *Polak, A “Flying, Hopping, Pit-Bots for Cave and Lava Tube Exploration on the Moon and Mars,” Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Instrumentation for Planetary Missions, NASA Goddard, Greenbelt, Maryland, 2014. (PDF)
    • Thangavelautham, J., Thoesen, A., Gadau, F., Hutchins, G., Asphaug, E., Alizadeh, I., “Low-Cost Science Laboratory in Microgravity Using a CubeSat Centrifuge Framework,” Proceedings of the 65th International Astronautical Congress, Toronto, Canada, 2014. (PDF)
    • Perera, V., Movshovitz, N., Asphaug, E., and Thangavelautham, J. “Material Studies of Asteroid Regolith and Accretion Using a Low-Cost CubeSat Laboratory.” Proceedings of the 65th International Astronautical Congress, Toronto, Canada, 2014.
    • Thangavelautham, J., Strawser, D., Cheung, M. and Dubowsky, S., “Lithium Hydride Powered PEM Fuel Cells for Long-Duration  Small Mobile Robotic Missions,” Proceedings of the 2012 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), St. Paul, Minnesota, 2012. (PDF)
    • Iora, P. and Thangavelautham, J. “Development of a Dynamic Model and Control of a PEM Fuel Cell,” Proceedings of the European Fuel Cell Forum 2011, Lucene, Switzerland, A1410 1-13, 2011.
    • Thangavelautham, J., Gallardo, D., Strawser, D. and Dubowsky, S., “Hybrid Fuel Cells Power for Long Duration Robotic Missions in Field Environments,” Proceedings of the Conference on Climbing and Walking Robots (CLAWAR), Paris, France, September, 2011.
    • Thangavelautham, J., Abu El Samid, N., Grouchy, P., Earon E., Fu, T., Nagrani, N., D'Eleuterio, G.M.T., Evolving Multirobot Excavation Controllers and Choice of Platforms Using Artificial Neural Tissue Controllers. Proceedings of the IEEE Symposium on Computational Intelligence for Robotics and Automation, 2009. (PDF)
    • Earon, E., Thangavelautham, J., Liu, T., Armstrong, H., D'Eleuterio, G.M.T., Boucher, D., Viel, M., Richard, J., "A Multiagent Methodology for Lunar Robotic Mission Risk Mitigation," Proceedings of the AIAA Space Conference, 2009
    • Grouchy, G., Thangavelautham, J., D'Eleuterio, G.M.T., "An Island Model for High-Dimensional Genomes using Phylogenetic Speciation and Species Barcoding, "Proceedings of Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference, ACM, Montreal, Canada, 2009
    • Thangavelautham, J., Smith, A., Abu El Samid, N., Ho, A., Boucher, D., Richard, J.,  D'Eleuterio, G.M.T., "Multirobot Lunar Excavation and ISRU Using Artificial-Neural-Tissue Controllers, " Proceedings of the Space Technology and Applications International Forum 2008, New Mexico (PDF)
    • Abu El Samid, N., Thangavelautham, J., D'Eleuterio, G. M. T., "Infrastructure Robotics: A Technology Enabler for Lunar In-Situ Resource Utilization, Habitat Construction and Maintenance," Proceedings of the International Astronautic Conference 2008, Scotland (PDF)
    • Thangavelautham, J.,  D'Eleuterio, G. M. T., "Developmental Neural Heterogeneity through Coarse-Coding Regulation,"  Proceedings of the 9th European Conference on Artificial Life, Lisbon, Portugal, Sept., 2007 (PDF)
    • Thangavelautham, J., Smith, A., Boucher, D., Richard, J., D'Eleuterio, G. M. T., " Evolving a Scalable Multirobot Controller Using an Artificial Neural Tissue Paradigm ,"  Proceedings of IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, April 2007. (PDF)
    • Thangavelautham, J., Smith, A., Boucher, D., Richard, J., D'Eleuterio, G. M. T., "Application of an Artificial Neural Tissue Controller to Multirobot Lunar ISRU Operations,"  Proceedings of Space Technology and Applications International Forum, Jan. 2007, vol. 880, 389–399. (DOI)(PDF)
    • Thangavelautham, J., D’Eleuterio, G. M. T.,  “A Coarse-Coding Framework for a Gene-Regulatory-Based Artificial Neural Tissue, ”  Advances In Artificial Life: Proceedings of the 8th European Conference on Artificial Life, Kent, UK, September, 2005 (PDF)
    • Thangavelautham, J., D’Eleuterio, G. M. T.,  “A Neuroevolutionary Approach to Emergent Task Decomposition,”  Proceedings of the 8th Parallel Problem Solving from Nature Conference, Birmingham, UK, September, 2004 1:  991-1000 (PDF)
    • Thangavelautham, J., D'Eleuterio, G.M.T., "Learning From Insects: Development of An Emergent Task Decomposition Network for Collective Robotics," Proceedings. of the 6th Dynamics and Control of Systems and Structures in Space Conference, Riomaggiore, Italy, July, 2004
    • Thangavelautham, J., D'Eleuterio, G.M.T., "Application of a Neuroevolutionary Approach to Emergent Task Decomposition in Collective Robotics," Late Breaking Proceedings. of Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference 2004, Seattle, WA, June, 2004 (PDF)
    • Thangavelautham, J., Barfoot, T.D., D'Eleuterio, G.M.T., "Coevolving Communication and Cooperation for Lattice Formation Tasks (Updated)," Advances In Artificial Life: Proceedings of the 7th European Conference on Artificial Life (ECAL), Dortmund, Germany, September 14-17th, 2003 (PDF)

Selected Academic Publications
Journal Papers

  • Vance, L., Asphaug, E., Thangavelautham, J., “Particle ejection contributions to the shape and spin of small near-Earth asteroids” Submitted to Nature, 2020.
  • Thangavelautham, J. “Evolving Scalable Bucket Brigade Behavior for Multirobot Resource Gathering Tasks,” To be Submitted to Journal of Swarm Intelligence and Evolutionary Computation, 2020.
  • Kalita, H., Morad, S., Robinson, M., Thangavelautham, J., “Mother-Daughter Architectures for Exploration of the Extreme Environment Frontiers of the Solar System,” In Preparation, 2019.
  • Rabade, S., Barba, N., Garvie, L., Thangavelautham, J., “Solar Thermal Steam Propulsion System for Interplanetary Travel: Enabling Simplified ISRU Utilizing NEOs,” Submitted to Aerospace, 2020.
  • Kalita, H., Thangavelautham, J., “Combined Power and Propulsion System Optimization for Robots to Explore Off-world Extreme Environments,” Submitted to AIAA Journal, 2020.
  • Nallapu, R., Thangavelautham, J., “ Design and Sensitivity Analysis of Spacecraft Swarms for Planetary Moon Reconnaissance through Co-orbits,” In Review Acta Astronautica, 2020.
  • Nallapu, R., Thangavelautham, J., “ An Automated Design Architecture for Visual Mapping Flyby Missions of Spacecraft Swarms to Planetary Moons,” Accepted to Advances in Space Research, 2020. (PDF)
  • Kalita, H., Thangavelautham, J., “Exploration of Extreme Environments with Current and Emerging Robot Systems,” Current Robotics Reports, 2020 (PDF)
  • Chandra, A., Babuscia, A., Thangavelautham, J., “Inflatable Membrane Structures for Small Satellites,” accepted in Journal of Small Satellites, 2019.(PDF)
  • Nallapu, R., Schwartz, S., Asphaug, E., Thangavelautham, J., “ Robust Spin Control Design for the AOSAT+ Mission Concept, ” IEEE Journal on Miniaturization for Air and Space Systems, 2020. (Preprint) (PDF)
  • Dektor, G., Kenia, N., Uglietta, J., Ichikawa, S., Choudhary, A., Martinez, M., Asphaug, E., Thangavelautham, J., “Logic: A CubeSat Mission to Phobos,” Submitted to Advances in Space Research, pp. 1-32, 2018.
  • Thangavelautham, J., Strawser, D., Manyapu, K., Gallardo, D. and Dubowsky, S., “Long-Life Micro Fuel Cell Power Supply for Mobile Field Sensor Network Modules,,”   International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, pp. 1-22, 2017.
  • Asphaug, E., Thangavelautham, J., Klesh, A., Chandra, A., Nallapu, R., Raura, L., Herreras-Martinez, M., “ A CubeSat Centrifuge for Long Duration Milligravity Research, ”  Nature Microgravity , pp. 1-12, 2017.
  • Robinson, M., Thangavelautham, J., Anderson, B., Deran, A., Lawrence, S., Wagner, R., Ridenource, R., Williams, B., Dunham, D., Williams, B., Dunham, D., Babuscia, A., Cheung, K., Genova, A. “Swirl: Unravelling an Enigma, ”  Planetary and Space Sciences Special Issue , pp. 1-25, 2018.
  • Lightholder, J., Thoesen, A., Adamson, E., Jakubowski, J., Nallapu, R., Smallwood, S., Raura, L., Klesh, A., Asphaug, E., Thangavelautham, J. “ Asteroid Origins Satellite 1: An On-orbit Centrifuge Science Laboratory,”  Acta Astronautica, vol. 133, pp. 81-94, 2017. (Preprint) (PDF)
  • Thangavelautham, J.,Abu El Samid, N., Smith, A.D.S. and D’Eleuterio, G.M.T., “Autonomous Multirobot Excavation for Lunar Applications,” Robotica, pp. 1-24, 2017, DOI:10.1017/S0263574717000017 (Preprint) (PDF)
  • Strawser, D.,Thangavelautham, J. and Dubowsky, S., “A Passive Lithium Hydride Based Hydrogen Generator for Low-Power Fuel Cells for Long-Duration Applications,” International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, pp. 1-36, 2014. (PDF)
  • Thangavelautham, J. and Dubowsky, S., “ On the Catalytic Degradation in Fuel Cell Power Supplies for Long-Life Mobile Field Sensors. ”  Journal of Fuel Cells: Fundamental to Systems, pp. 1-15, DOI: 10.1002/fuce.201200065,  Online, 2012. (PDF)
  • Iora, P. and Thangavelautham, J. “Design of a Mobile PEM Power Backup System through detailed dynamics and control analysis,” International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, pp. 1-12, Sept. 2012 (PDF).
  • Thangavelautham, J. and D'Eleuterio, G.M.T., “Tackling Learning Intractability Through Topological Organization and Regulation of Cortical Networks,” IEEE Transactions on Neural Networks and Learning Systems, Vol. 23, No. 4, pp. 552-564, DOI: 10.1109/TNN.2011.2178311, 2012.  (PDF)

Theses

  • Thangavelautham, J. “A Regulatory Theory of Cortical Organization and Its Applications to Robotics,” Ph.D. Thesis, Institute for Aerospace Studies, University of Toronto, 2008. (PDF)
  • Thangavelautham, J. “Evolving Solutions for Lattice Formation Tasks Using Cellular Automata-based Multiagent Systems,” B.A.Sc. Thesis, University of Toronto, 2002.

Scholarly Reports Prepared in Academia

  • Thangavelautham, J. “A Regulatory Theory of Cortical Organization and Its Applications to Robotics,” Ph.D. Thesis, Institute for Aerospace Studies, University of Toronto, 2008. (PDF)
  • Thangavelautham, J. “Evolving Solutions for Lattice Formation Tasks Using Cellular Automata-based Multiagent Systems,” B.A.Sc. Thesis, University of Toronto, 2002.
  • Thangavelautham, J., "Hydrodynamic Propulsion of Multibody Systems in Microbiology," p 1-8, 2005 (AER1512, Multibody Dynamics, Prof. G. M. T. D’Eleuterio)
  • Thangavelautham, J., "Natural Image Statistics of Optical Flow," p 1-11, 2005 (CSC2541, Topics in Machine Learning and Neural Networks: Natural Image Statistics,  Prof. R. Zemel)
  • Thangavelautham, J., "Northern Light Rover Final Report: Power, Thermal and Mechanical Systems," Prepared for UTIAS Space Flight Lab, June, 2004
  • Thangavelautham, J., "Application of Clustering Techniques in a Multiagent Stochastic Cellular Automata Network," p 1-8, 2003 (CSC2515, Machine Learning,  Prof. S. Roweis)

Scholarly Reports Prepared for Industry/Government

  • Thangavelautham, J., Fu, T., D'Eleuterio, G.M.T., "Artificial Neural Tissue Technical Notes for In-situ Resource Utilization Activities," prepared for NORCAT (under Canadian Space Agency Contract), March, 2009
  • Thangavelautham, J., "MSelect: Aerospace Materials Selection, Processing and Analysis Software," Preparedfor MDA Space Missions, August, 2001
  • Ou, M., Thangavelautham, J., "Contact Dynamics Toolkit Validation Studies," Prepared for MDA Space Missions (under Canadian Space Agency Contract, Space Technology Development Program), September, 2001
  • Thangavelautham, J., Keough, T., "Life Cycle Cost Analysis of the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator," Prepared for MDA Space Missions (under Canadian Space Agency  International Space Station contract), August, 2000

Media Mentions


2019

  • (NEW) Article, “ Scientists Propose New Satellite Tech to Dodge Space Junk from Megaconstellations,” Space.com  (PDF)
  • Article, “NASA admin: ASU, UA 'leading the world' in training next generation of space scientists,” Arizona Republic  (PDF)
  • Interview/Article, “NASA chooses UA for MIRO program,” The Daily Wildcat  (PDF)
  • Interview/Article, “NASA funding is helping students build cubesats,” Space Daily  (PDF)
  • Interview/Article, “NASA awards $3 million to UA for asteroid research, inclusion of minority students,” Arizona Daily Star  (PDF)
  • Interview/Article, “$3M in NASA Funding to Help Students Build CubeSats,” UA News  (PDF)
  • Article, “Researchers Propose An Inflatable Sailplane to Explore Mars,” Futurism  (PDF)
  • Article/Opinion, “Swarms of Satellites: Miniaturizing Space Exploration,” Filling Spaces  (PDF)
  • Interview/Article, “UA project chosen by NASA to aid in CubeSat Launch Initiative,” The Daily Wildcat  (PDF)
  • Interview/Article, “UA Student-led CatSat Mission Selected by NASA,” UA News  (PDF)
  • Interview/Article, “Arizona: Student-Led CatSat Mission Selected for Flight by NASA,” Space Daily News  (PDF)
  • Interview/Article, “Using laser beams for communication and coordination of spacecraft swarms,” TechXplore  (PDF)
  • Interview/Article, “An approach for motion planning on asteroid surfaces with irregular gravity fields,” TechXplore  (PDF)
  • Article, “Asteroid Exploration with an AMIGO,” The Space Resource  (PDF)

2018

  • Article/Opinion, “The Rise of Interplanetary CubeSats,” The Room: Space Journal  (PDF)

2017

  • Article, “Dr Jekan Thangavelautham – Designing Devices For Exploring Space And Investigating Climate Change,” Scientia  (PDF)

2016

  • Article, “ASU Satellite to Search for Outer Space Threats,” ASU Now  (PDF)
  • Article, “U.S. Air Force partners with ASU students to design satellite that will monitor space threats,” State Press  (PDF)
  • Article, “These Tiny Satellites Can Be Launched Into Space for as Little as $1,000,” Smithsonian  (PDF)
  • Article, “Space Becomes Affordable If Your Spacecraft Is 3 Centimetres Small,” Vice  (PDF)
  • Article, “Student-designed ‘FemtoSats’ aim to bring cost of satellite deployment below $1,000,” Techcrunch  (PDF)
  • Article, “Palm-Sized Satellite FemtoSat Aims To Bring Down Cost Of Space Missions,” Tech Times  (PDF)
  • Article, “The next big thing in space may be really, REALLY small satellites,” Ars Technica  (PDF)
  • Article, “Bezos Trots Out New Glenn Rocket Design,” Tech News World  (PDF)
  • Article, “Coming Soon: Swarms of Space Robots,” Air and Space Magazine  (PDF)
  • Interview/Article, “RedWorks Wants To Build Your First Home On Mars,” Fast Company  (PDF)
  • Article, “Anyone could send experiments into space with this tiny cube,” Wired.co.uk  (PDF)
  • Article, “When CubeSats are Too Big,” The Space Review and Spacenews  (PDF)
  • Article, “Tiny 'chipsat' spacecraft ready for first flight,” Nature – News  (PDF)
  • Article, “The 2016 Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Awards: Two cheaper ways to get to space,” Popular Mechanics  (PDF)
  • Article, “Tiny 'Chipsat' Spacecraft Set for First Flight,” Scientific American  (PDF)
  • Article, “How a $5 Million Launch Vehicle Could Transform the Satellite Business” Gizmodo  (PDF)
  • Article, “Soon, send your own tiny satellites to space!,” Economic Times  (PDF)
  • Episode 46: Spacecraft no bigger than a breadbox with Dr. Asphaug  (PDF)

2015 and Earlier

  • Article, “Out of this world: ASU student turns love of art, space into career,” ASU Now  (PDF)
  • Interview/Article, “Out of this world: NASA picks ASU to lead moon-orbiter mission,” Arizon Republic  (PDF)
  • Interview/Article, “ASU chosen to lead NASA CubeSat mission,” USA Today/Des Moiner Register  (PDF)
  • Interview/Article, “NASA chooses ASU to lead moon mission,” Phoenix Business Journal  (PDF)
  • Interview/Article, “ASU chosen to lead lunar CubeSat mission,” ASU Now  (PDF)
  • Interview/Article, “$1,000 may soon get you to space,” FastCompany  (PDF)
  • Interview/Article, “Universidad en AZ dirigirá misión lunar,” Univision  (PDF)
  • Article, “CubeSats to the Moon: An interview with the scientist behind NASA’s newest planetary exploration mission,” Planetary Science Society Blog  (PDF)
  • Article/Interview, “CubeSats Are Paving Mankind's Way Back To The Moon, And Beyond,” Popular Science  (PDF)
  • Interview, “Pluto Pix Push Interest in Space Exploration,” R. Adhikari, technewsworld.com  (PDF)
  • Interview, “Pac Man Satellite to Munch on Space Junk,” R. Adhikari, technewsworld.com  (PDF)
  • Interview, “ISS Cargo Lost In SpaceX Falcon Flameout,” R. Adhikari, technewsworld.com  (PDF)
  • Article, “Enabling Amateur Space Exploration,” Yuma Now/Small Step to Space  (PDF)
  • Interview/Article, “Asteroids made easy: 'Patch of asteroid' being built inside a satellite,” Science Daily  (PDF)
  • Interview, “5 Tips To Stay Curious From People Who Do It For A Living,” Huffingtonpost.com  (PDF)
  • Interview, “NASA and Google Do the Tango,” technewsworld.com (PDF)
  • “What will it take to get us back to the Moon?,” Project hieroglyph/Boing-boing.net, Review on Cory Doctorow’s “The Moon Who Sold the Moon” (PDF)
  • Article, “Team builds world's first CubeSat microgravity laboratory,” Phys.org(PDF)
  • Interview, “NASA May Schedule Spacewalks to Fix ISS Cooling Loop” (PDF)
  • Podcast, “Don't Evolve the Robot, Evolve the Team,” - Interview with ASU's Dr. Jekan Thanga  (PDF)
  • Interview, “NASA May Schedule Spacewalks to Fix ISS Cooling Loop,” R. Adhikari, technewsworld.com  (PDF)
  • Interviews on Feasibility of Giant Humanoid Robot, Space.com  (PDF)
  • Interviews on Feasibility of Giant Humanoid Robot, SfyWire.com  (PDF)
  • Interview, MIT Museaum, a good place to start, Survive and Thrive+  (PDF)
  • Article, “Intech Robotics Experts Publish to Worldwide Audience” (PDF)


Undergraduate Research and Education Program (UREP) Recruitment

Overview Right Program For Me?Application ProcessApply!

 

 


 

 

Undergraduate Research and Education Program (UREP): Overview

 

1.0 Introduction. UA ASTEROIDS Laboratory’s NASA-funded Undergraduate Research and Education Program (UREP) provides an accelerated path for undergraduates to learn about space systems engineering, planetary science, propulsion and In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) in preparation for a one-year research program. Undergraduates will lead their own research project under the mentorship of a University of Arizona faculty member and work with a team of experienced graduate students and staff to build a space-bound CubeSat that will advance planetary science.

2.0 Achievements. Past students have authored and presented academic conference papers, devised new inventions and patents and won academic awards and scholarships for their accomplishments. Students selected for the second-year will go on to apply for NASA internships. Our growing alumni are emerging leaders at NASA Centers, the aerospace and defense sector, academia and in Silicon Valley. Overall, this is a great opportunity to get into and thrive in the aerospace sector. Adventure awaits!

3.0 The Need is Now. The United States is in urgent need of talented, diverse STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) undergraduates who can contribute to the growing and vibrant aerospace research sector. Women, underrepresentend minority groups, people of various sexual orientations and people with disabilities are all encouraged to apply. Be on the frontlines of planetary exploration, devising new robotic platforms, new spacecraft and propulsion systems, new science instruments and new methods of science analysis, inquiry and discovery that can change the world forever!

4.0 Enrichment Classes**. The UREP Program opportunity consists of two components, the (1) Summer Academy Enrichment Classes and (2) Undergraduate Research Opportunity (URO). The Summer Academy is an intensive 5-week program that will educate students on relevant advanced topics. The courses prepare undergraduates to think like a professional space systems engineer or planetary scientist and advance (1) system engineering skills, (2) critical thinking, (3) team building skills, (4) organization skills and provide (5) historical insight into space exploration.

5.0 Undergrad Research***. The students will then be presented with a showcase of frontline research areas spanning space systems engineering, space instrumentation, planetary science, propulsion and In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU). Students will identify a suitable research area and work with a faculty mentor to develop a unique research abstract of 8-10 sentences long. The research abstract will provide an elevator "pitch", identify present challenges, approach/method and goals of the research. The abstract is intended to scope the research area for the student to ensure the faculty mentor and the student have a clear path-forward.

6.0 Game-Changing. The students will be familiarized with systems-thinking that will enable them to identify game-changing research opportunities rather than incremental or maturation research. The identified research topics can (a) introduce whole new capabilities, (b) whole new theories and modes of discovery, (c) provide 2-5 fold improvement in peformance, (d) shift paradigms, (e) revolutionize a field or (f) operate beyond prior human capabilities.

7.0 Covid-19 Challenges. Research spans theory, concept development, experiment design, feasability analysis, simulation, proof-of-concept experiments, field exploration and science data analysis. Opportunities to work in large groups on hands-on projects is not permissible due to the pandemic. Instead, the projects have shifted to working online with focus on theory, concept development, simulation and individual experiments.

 

 

*Sophomores through Seniors are encouraged to apply. High GPA standing is expected for a competitive application.

*Note: Non-US Persons are limited from certain research opportunities due to ITAR/EAR restrictions but are encouraged to apply.

**The students will be funded with a single stipend of $720 for attending the 5-weeks of courses.

***The internship runs for one academic year, 10-20 hours/week, at $12.00/hr. The internship officially starts with approval of the student's research abstract.


 

 

UREP: Right Program for Me ?

 

1.0 Strength in Diversity. UA ASTEROIDS Laboratory’s NASA-funded Undergraduate Research and Education Program (UREP)* has been developed to increase the diversity, number and quality of undergrads entering the aerospace sector in Southern Arizona. ASTEROIDS Laboratory is NASA-mandated to increase number of women, underrepresented minorities, people of different sexual orientation and people with disabilities into the thriving aerospace sector. The ASTEROIDS Laboratory views America's diversity as a key strength. Diverse teams bring new perspective, refreshing ideas and out-of-the-box thinking that can have transformative impact.

 

2.0 Skills to Succeed and Growing Alumni Network. The program is intended for talented sophomores to juniors who are STEM majors at University of Arizona, who are ambitious, creative, hard-working, ready to learn new things, responsible, well-mannered and who have some interest in aerospace. The program equips undergrads with advanced skills to succeed in obtaining leading STEM careers in the aerospace and defense industry, NASA Centers and government laboratories, in-addition to placement at top graduate school programs and in entrepreneurship, leading spin-off companies. The UREP participants will be part of a growing, life-long alumni network that includes industry and government lab mentors who are in search of great talent.

3.0 NASA Internship. Top ranked students in the program go onto one-semester NASA internships at one of several NASA Centers including NASA JPL, NASA Ames Research Center, NASA Goddard, NASA Armstrong and NASA Johnson. They are matched with NASA mentors who are doing complementary research and development work with faculty mentors at the ASTEROIDS Laboratory. In addition, plans are underway to facilitate top-ranked students to go onto industrial internships at aerospace companies in Arizona, California and New Mexico. The knowledge gained from the experience sets UREP students apart to becoming future leaders in their respective fields.

4.0 Newspace Connection and Commercialization. UREP students are recruited into the ASTEROIDS Laboratory and work on exciting, fast-paced, emerging research topics in the Newspace sector. The Newspace sector is undergoing astronomical growth and is predicted by Bank of America to grow to $3 trillion in market capitalization within the next 30 years from the present $350 billion. Students are encouraged to think about practical applications, enter entrepreneurship contests, research commercialization potential and how their research could have transformative impact as a commercial product or process. These steps empower UREP students to find the right support ecosystem and look towards developing start-up companies.

5.0 Core Research. The ASTEROIDS Laboratory predominantly focuses on science, technology and exploration of small bodies, including asteroids and comets throughout the solar system. Three major themes emerge from small body research, including the (a) science of formation and evolution of small-bodies, (b) security implications of small-bodies to planet Earth, the need for improved observation, deflection and other mitigation strategies and (c) harnessing of small-bodies for their rich and diverse resources to kick-start a future space economy. The laboratory is composed of small, agile teams driven by principles of technology miniaturization, bio-inspired, human-competitive machine learning and scaling to new heights using swarm constellations. The UREP Program officially covers the following 4 major cross-cutting disciplines:

Space Systems Engineering R & D

Space Instruments Engineering R & D

Space Science/Planetary Science

Chemical Engineering, Propulsion and ISRU R & D

6.0 Transformative Impact. Undergraduate student research projects have gone onto blossom, generating multiple respected conference papers, invited presentations and even Masters Theses! Some have gone onto becoming major research focus areas that bring countless grants from federal sponsors, intellectual property in the form of inventions and patents that can be licensed to form new commercial products or spin-off companies. These projects have gone onto transform the lives of the student and everyone else around them. A world of opportunities awaits!

 

 

*Limitations apply to Non-U.S. Person Students due to ITAR/EAR Restrictions, but are welcome to apply.


 

 

UREP: Application Process

 

Interested in becoming a University of Arizona UREP Undergraduate Researcher? Here is the process:

STEP 1. Apply!

Before the application due date of (*EXTENDED*) July 6, 2020 (Summer), interested undergraduates (sophomores to juniors enrolled at the University of Arizona) shall submit an online application, which will be reviewed and ranked by the ASTEROIDS Laboratory UREP Selection Committee. The application form is below:*,

Application Form

STEP 2. Summer Academy Selection

The highest ranked (20-25 total students) applicants are selected to enter the program and proceed with selecting courses for the Summer Academy. The students will be compensated with stipends for completing 4 out of the 5 weeks of courses. Once the students have completed the necessary courses, they proceed to enter the Undergraduate Research Opportunity (URO).

 

Review Process and Ranking Criteria. Right after the application due date, the UREP Selection Committee (made up of ~3 faculty and Co-Investigators) review all intern applications. The Committee ranks intern applications based on the content and quality of the applicant's responses. The ranking will be based on GPA, quality of the essay, interest-level, potential, motivation for applying and current needs according to subject discipline.

STEP 3. Undergraduate Research Opportunity Selection

The students will spend up to one-month collaborating with a faculty mentor and drafting a research abstract on their selected research area. Available research areas change from year to year and an updated list will be shared with the students after completing the courses. The student will be iterating with the faculty mentor on the research abstract. If the abstract is selected, the Selection Committee will then authorize the student to be awarded the NASA-funded UREP Internship for the academic year, for 10-20 hrs/wk at $12.00/hr.

Review Process and Ranking Criteria. Once the research abstract is sufficiently refined, the students will submit the research abstract to the UREP Selection Committee. The UREP Selection Committee will check to make sure the abstract has a clearly defined and legitimate research scope, needed resources, in addition to a highly-supportive faculty mentor. The determining factor will be the faculty mentor's support of the research proposal. If the research abstract fails to obtain a suitable faculty mentor, then the student needs to find another mentor or exit the program. The Selection Committee may select the research abstract without conditions or make conditional selection with a final selection review after 3-months.

 

STEP 4. NASA Internship Selection

Top ranked UREP students who stay on and complete the Undergraduate Research Opportunity (URO) will be nominated for a NASA internship lasting a semester or more. The nominated students will be notified by December, for a NASA internship the following summer. NASA notifies the students in March.

Review Process and Ranking Criteria.The UREP Selection Committee will be ranking all UREP students according to research progress at the end of each semester. UREP students will be expected to submit a one-page summary that outlines research achievements, research plans, obtained awards and research presentations made. The research mentor will submit a one-paragraph progress blurb to the committee.

1.0 Requirements

a. What is Required of an Undergraduate Researcher?

Each UREP participant, as an undergraduate researcher, is a full member of the ASTEROID Laboratory. With great power comes great responsibility. Undergraduate researchers who are curious, inquiry driven, self-motivated, responsible and are excellent team players are best placed to suceed. Often times, research does not involve wearing a lab coat and working in isolation. Often times in engineering and increasingly in the sciences, research is a team activity, where every team member contributes their specialized skill towards advancing the whole.

Specializing in Research. Every effort will be made to turn an undergraduate researcher into a research specialist at the laboratory. The laboratory looks towards each of its specialist to best handle a particular aspect of the research problem at hand. This comes with great opportunity and responsibility. Each specialist has an opportunity to lead one aspect of a research project but needs to be mindful of deadlines and external expectations at all times. This is where an undergraduate researcher can succeed and show evidence for solving a hard problem, having a great research finding, advancing a new theory or technology concept. Through the training and mentoring, we will be helping undergraduate researchers achieve "WOW" moments!

b. Key Milestone and Deliverables

Each UREP participant needs to be organized and sufficiently independent. UREP Participants at the end of their first semester of URO need to make a 15-minute summary presentation to the ASTEROIDS Laboratory, with the UREP Selection Committee present. At the end of the academic year, the UREP participants are expected to produce a conference-style abstract, 30-minute presentation and a double-column conference-paper that is 6-10 pages. The UREP student presentations will be organized into a 1-2 day symposium open to the ASTEROIDS Laboratory and the University of Arizona community.

c. Weekly Reporting Requirements

Participants are expected to achieve weekly progress, provide regular and sufficiently detailed status reports to mentors and have open channels of communication with the mentors and ASTEROIDS Laboratory support staff. Students that show strong self-motivation, are reliable, meeting deadlines, eager to participate, show inquiry-based thinking and can converse with frank opinions, in addition to seek out critical advice earn high-respect from the other members of the laboratory. The most successful undergrad researchers can allot a few hours a day to research even during a heavy week filled with midterms and large assignments.

d. Role of Faculty Mentor and Day-to-Day Mentor

Mentors are experienced faculty members who conduct cutting-edge research to advance the goals of the ASTEROIDS Laboratory. These faculty members enjoy working with students, have shown past-track record of success with undergrad students and are committed to providing regular mentoring support. Faculty mentors often provide high-level inspirational research guidance, set goals and priorities and are a great sounding board for new ideas or for troubleshooting technical issues. Faculty mentors are a source of reference helping to clear technical or scientific doubts, help point towards direction to find new knowledge and for providing opinion on viability/feasability based on their wealth of experience.

Participating in a Research Team. Faculty mentors are assisted by day-to-day mentors including Masters students, PhD students and Postdocs who typically lead a sizable research project and are the head of a research team. Each UREP participant will have a day-to-day mentor assigned and be part of a larger research team. Day-to-day mentors typically can help a new undergraduate researcher fill in details of research expectation, planning, organizing and devising research tasks. Day-to-day mentors pass on useful skills required for conducting research, lab practises and standards and is usually there to help you correct mistakes. The day-to-day mentor is there to coach the undergraduate researcher to present polished research hypothesis, data and analysis and suggestions for next steps forward. Time to time the day-to-day mentor may work with the undergraduate researcher providing an idea to try or that next-critical step. The day-to-day mentor will time to time require the help of the UREP for research tasks. The day-to-day mentor will also help with getting started/organizing a presentation, conference paper, invention disclosure or patent application.

Path to Success. The mentors work as a coordinated team to enrich the undergraduate researcher with the required knowledge, organization skills and research acumen to be successful. Undergraduate researchers who act as a sponge, who can soak up new knowledge and who are constantly identifying solution pathways become successful. Each undergraduate researcher needs to work well and adapt to the styles of the day-to-day mentor and faculty mentor.

2. NASA Support and Funding

UREP is funded by NASA’s MIRO Program and auxillary funding/support from the research mentors. UREP has the ambitious goal of placing students on the frontlines of research and having the broadest reach and collective-achievement possible. UREP participants may work between 10 and 20 hrs/wk ($12.00/hr plus 2.0% ERE). Full funding of a UREP for 30 weeks at 13 hrs/wk amounts to $4,758.

*Limitations apply to Non-U.S. Person Students due to ITAR/EAR Restrictions, but are welcome to apply.