AE Graduate Student Awarded Travel Grant to Present at AAS Conference



Ahmed Atallah, a Ph.D. aerospace engineering student in the Joint Doctoral Program, has won the John V. Breakwell Student Travel Award from the American Astronautical Society (AAS) Space Flight Mechanics Committee. 

The award of $1,000 was in support of his travel to present his paper “ Analytical Radial Adaptive Method for Spherical Harmonics Gravity Models,” at the 29th AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics Meeting, Ka'anapali, HI. This paper is co-authored with Atallah's advisor prof. Ahmad Bani Younes and in conjunction with Dr. Robyn Woollands (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory) and prof. John Junkins (Texas A&M University). 

Atallah's work has addressed the computational burden associated with high precision propagation for satellites orbiting a large body with a highly nonlinear gravity field (planets, moons, asteroids). An analytical adaptive method is introduced which adapts the spherical harmonic degree radially maintaining a specific accuracy solution for a satellite in elliptical orbits. The resulting algorithms “automatically know” about the rapid radial decay of the high-frequency terms in the gravity model to retain, as a function (mainly) of radial distance from geocenter. Addressing this issue enabled a much improved efficiency in high fidelity orbit propagations

Atallah is a first year Ph.D. student in the Joint Doctoral Program working on efficient numerical and optimization methods applied to astrodynamics under the supervision of Prof. Ahmad Bani Younes. Atallah did his MS in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cairo. In summer 2016 he won a scholarship from the Egyptian government that enabled him to study abroad at Texas A&M with Prof. John Junkins.