New Springer book, by Prof. Pini Gurfil, unifies sciences of celestial mechanics and astrodynamics
Astrodynamics, a science devoted to understanding and controlling the interaction between a spacecraft and the space environment, is a relatively new discipline. However, celestial mechanics, dealing with the motion of planets, moons, comets, stars, and galaxies, is over three centuries old. Celestial mechanics has evolved into a myriad of approaches, methods, and results, some of which are the bases for astrodynamics.
In recent years, an unprecedented interest in celestial mechanics and astrodynamics has risen due to new space programs. Astrophysicists, astronomers, space engineers, mathematicians, and scientists have been cooperating to develop and implement novel space missions. Progress in computational methods has enabled the development of spacecraft orbits that optimally utilize the natural space environment; significant progress in the research of rocket electric propulsion systems promises revolutionary, energy-efficient spacecraft trajectories; and the idea of flying several spacecraft in formation may break the boundaries of mass and size. The problems with space debris have been recognized and studied. Numerous planets outside our solar system have been discovered, some of which may harbor life.
Whereas there are many books dealing separately with celestial mechanics and astrodynamics, one rarely finds a book dealing with these two topics in a unified manner. The new Springer book, “Celestial Mechanics and Astrodynamics: Theory and Practice” by Prof. Pini Gurfil from Technion and Prof. Ken Seidelmann from University of Virginia, describes methods and applications common to celestial mechanics and astrodynamics. The book contains chapters dedicated to emerging topics such as modelling and mitigating space debris. It also contains a discussion of the “holy grail” of both celestial mechanics and astrodynamics: exoplanets, namely planets outside our solar system.