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The NASA Connection is a bi-monthly partnership series of the NASA Solar System Ambassadors Southern Illinois and

The Academy of Science – St. Louis.

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Thursday, June 17, 2021
7 - 8 pm

Advancing Space Exploration Using Multi-Robot Systems and Swarms and The Solar-Powered Lunar Ark Concept        

                      Click here to register

Jekan Thanga, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, Space and Terrestrial Robotic Exploration (SpaceTREx) Laboratory, Asteroid Science, Technology and Exploration Research Organized by Inclusive eDucation Systems (ASTEROIDS) Laboratory, Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering, The University of Arizona


The exploration and development of Cislunar Space and beyond will be pivotal in securing and sustaining human civilization in the centuries to come. University of Arizona space robotics engineer Jekan Thanga and colleagues are leveraging small teams of university researchers and students to take on ambitious, high-risk, high-reward exploration missions that use multiple spacecrafts, or robots, working in teams that are analogous to colonies of social insects. Their approach is especially promising when extended to a swarm of small spacecraft or robots where holistic system-level quantitative evaluation and ranking is possible and where tele-operation and conventional autonomous control methods cannot be scaled up. An important question is to determine the role of Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs), the Moon, and other small bodies such as Phobos and Deimos in Cislunar Space and beyond, particularly if they are a viable source of space resources and staging ground to kickstart large-scale exploration and development efforts. Jekan’s and colleagues’ studies point to multiple promising pathways that produce new architectures and robust solutions to some critical challenges that await space exploration and development. You won’t want to miss this fascinating look at space exploration in service to sustaining human civilization and the solar-powered lunar ark concept to store cryogenically frozen seed, spore, sperm and egg samples from 6.7 million Earth species.