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Prof Massimiliano Vasile

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Massimiliano Vasile is currently Professor of Space Systems Engineering in the Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering at the University of Strathclyde. Previous to this, he was a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Head of Research for the Space Advanced Research Team at the University of Glasgow. Before starting his academic career in 2004, he was the first member of the ESA Advanced Concepts Team and initiator of the ACT research stream on global trajectory optimisation, mission analysis and biomimicry. His research interests include Computational Optimization, Robust Design and Optimization Under Uncertainty exploring the limits of computer science at solving highly complex problems in science and engineering.

He developed Direct Transcription by Finite Elements on Spectral Basis for optimal control, implemented in the ESA software DITAN for low-thrust trajectory design. He has worked on the global optimisation of space trajectories developing innovative single and multi-objective optimisation algorithms, and on the combination of optimisation and imprecise probabilities to mitigate the effect of uncertainty in decision making and autonomous planning. More recently he has undertaken extensive research on the development of effective techniques for asteroid deflection and manipulation. His research has been funded by the European Space Agency, the EPSRC, the Planetary Society and the European Commission. Prof Vasile is currently leading Stardust, an EU-funded international research and training network on active debris removal and asteroid manipulation.


Methods and Techniques for Asteroid Deflection
In recent years it has become clear that the deflection and manipulation of asteroids is far from being pure science fiction, and instead is becoming more of a necessity. Recent events have shown that an impact from an asteroid is a high risk event, though its probability is low.  This talk will introduce some basic techniques to modify the trajectory and the tumbling motion of an asteroid and estimate the miss distance achievable with either impulsive or low-thrust actions. It will then present the mechanics of some asteroid manipulation methods and their potential effectiveness at relocating asteroids, avoiding a catastrophic impact with the Earth or capturing them.


Relevant publications:
Zuiani, F., Vasile, M, and Gibbings, A., (2012) "Evidence-based robust design of deflection actions for near Earth objects", Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy, 114 (1-2). pp. 107-136. ISSN 0923-2958.
Sanchez, J.P., Colombo, C., Vasile, M., Radice, G., "Multi-criteria comparison among several mitigation strategies for dangerous near Earth objects", Journal of Guidance, Control and Dynamics, Vol. 32, No. 1, 05.01.2009, p. 121-142.
Vasile, M. and Maddock, C. (2012) "Design of a formation of solar pumped lasers for asteroid deflection", Advances in Space Research, 50 (7). pp. 891-905. ISSN 0273-1177.

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