Friday, 08. June 2007

Mathematicians Successful with AstroNet -- New Approaches to Compute Space Trajectories

Brussels-Paderborn. A research team lead by mathematician Prof. Dr. Michael Dellnitz of the University of Paderborn has been granted research funding of about 500.000 Euros as part of a community-wide network of spaceflight experts. In total, the EU sponsors the network for three years with more than 2.4 million Euros.

The Paderborn team primarily aims at developing new methods for the computation of space trajectories, which opens new possibilities for the planning of future space missions. Other teams in the network deal with the design and control of novel kinds of spacecraft, or with groups of spacecraft flying in special formations.

The researchers of the network found together through a programme with which the EU supports the exchange of scientists between different European countries. Some of the scientists now cooperating in the network lead by the University of Surrey, England, know themselves for years. The cooperation of engineers interested in practical aspects with more theoretically inclined scientists e. g. from mathematics is one of the projects' highlights. "This network opens us opportunities to directly facilitate the work of engineers at the European Space Agency (ESA) through new ideas and techniques from mathematics. In this way, this project realises the vision that was the inspiration for the Institute for Industrial Mathematics (IFIM) into which it is embedded, " says Prof. Dellnitz.

The project was accepted by the EU commission in March 2006, after several years of preparation. Out of 901 proposals, the preceeding scientific review had recommended only 70 projects for funding. "This shows that the University has excellent conditions to offer for top level international scientists," adds Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Risch, the university's vice chancellor.

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