Trajectory Optimization for Missions to Small Bodies with a Focus on Scientific Merit

Jacob A. Englander, Matthew A. Vavrina, Lucy F. Lim, Lucy A. McFadden, Alyssa R. Rhoden, Keith S. Noll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Trajectory design for missions to small bodies is tightly coupled both with the selection of targets for the mission and with the choice of spacecraft power, propulsion, and other hardware. Traditional methods of trajectory optimization have focused on finding the optimal trajectory for an a priori selection of destinations and spacecraft parameters. Recent research has expanded the field to multidisciplinary systems optimization that includes spacecraft parameters. The logical next step is to extend the optimization process to include target selection based not only on engineering figures of merit but also scientific value. This article presents a new technique to solve the multidisciplinary mission optimization problem for small-body missions, including classical trajectory design, the choice of spacecraft power and propulsion systems, and the scientific value of the targets. This technique, when combined with modern parallel computers, enables a holistic view of the small-body mission design process that previously required iteration among several different design processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8012319
Pages (from-to)18-28
Number of pages11
JournalComputing in Science and Engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2017


  • NASA
  • Space
  • mission
  • scientific computing
  • trajectory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Trajectory Optimization for Missions to Small Bodies with a Focus on Scientific Merit'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this