Research at the Center for Space Systems


Center core capabilities span space systems design and analysis, technology innovation, spaceflight hardware development and mission operations. The diverse research activities conducted within the Center for Space Systems are consolidated within five principle themes:
  • Responsive Space concepts, architectures, technology and systems
  • Global Climate Change sensors, platforms, measurements and data analysis
  • Moon and Mars Exploration concepts, architectures, technology and systems
  • Access to Small Bodies, feasibility studies, technology and systems
  • Space Systems Engineering Workforce trend analysis, and mechanisms to attract and retain future space systems engineers
  • Within each theme, relevant areas of expertise within the Center faculty and affiliates are applied to projects, analyses, and system studies with the potential to provide significant advancements in space system engineering.

    Through its emphasis on space flight projects, the Center provides undergraduates and graduate students with hands-on experience and real-world application of principles learned in the classroom and laboratory environments. From the initial mission concept development through detailed subsystem design, system-level testing and mission operations and data analysis, students are exposed to the full lifecycle of space flight projects. This experience positions the students to develop into system engineering leaders in the aerospace community.

    Responsive Space: Center research activities associated with system engineering for flexibility and responsiveness include modular subsystem design, low-thrust propulsion development for responsive systems, autonomous target detection, and autonomous rendezvous and docking.

    Global Climate Change: Remote sensing of the earth's oceans, polar ice sheets and land masses to assess global climate change and the associated impacts is a priority for CSS. Research within the Center focuses on collaborative observations from space-based and in-situ measurement platforms, enabling the acquisition of detailed spatial and temporal data sets. Observation of the coastal oceans and the impact of populated areas on coastal ecosystems is an area of emphasis.

    Moon and Mars Exploration: Areas of research contributing to the exploration of the Moon and Mars include pinpoint landing algorithm development, sample return system design, and the development of advanced heatshield technologies. Faculty members associated with the Center are recognized experts in planetary entry, descent and landing system design, and robotic and human mission architecture development.

    Small Body Exploration: Research activities related to low-thrust technology development, testing, and low-thrust trajectory design applied to the exploration of comets and asteroids represents an area of emphasis for the CSS. System concepts for planetary defense from comets and near-Earth asteroids represents a key contribution with global ramifications.

    Space System Engineering Workforce: Evaluation and assessment of trends, demographics and needs within the space system engineering workforce is a central theme for the Center. Looking across industry, the Department of Defense, national laboratories, and government agencies, CSS is working to develop an understanding of the changing demands placed upon space system engineers in an effort to better understand how to educate and train the next generation of space system engineering leadership and guide strategic investment in this area.


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    Georgia Institute of Technology

    620 Cherry Street NW
    Atlanta, GA 30332
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