News & Events



Robot Drone That Mimics Bat Flight


Soon-Jo Chung, Associate Professor of Aerospace and Bren Scholar; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Research Scientist, and colleagues have recreated the key flight mechanisms of bats with unprecedented fidelity in the Bat Bot—a self-contained robotic bat with soft, articulated wings. [Caltech story]

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Taking Flight: Professor Soon-Jo Chung


Soon-Jo Chung, Associate Professor of Aerospace and Bren Scholar; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Research Scientist, has wide research interests ranging from the creation of a robotic bat with flexible wings and realistic flight dynamics to the control of swarms of small satellites to the development of computer-vision-based navigation systems. [Interview with Professor Soon-Jo Chung]

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Professor Anatol Roshko Passes Away


Anatol Roshko (MS '47, PhD '52), Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics, Emeritus, at Caltech, passed away on January 23, 2017. Known for his research in several areas of gas dynamics and fluid mechanics, Professor Roshko made contributions to problems of separated flow, bluff-body aerodynamics, shock-wave boundary-layer interactions, shock-tube technology, and the structure of turbulent shear flows. With pioneering aerodynamics researcher Hans Liepmann, he coauthored the widely used textbook Elements of Gasdynamics, published in 1956. [Caltech story]

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GPS Innovator Charles Trimble Receives von Kármán Wings Award


Caltech senior trustee Charles Trimble (BS '63, MS '64), founder and former chief executive officer of Trimble Navigation, Ltd., is the 2016 recipient of the International von Kármán Wings Award. He was recognized for his visionary leadership contributions to the aerospace industry, and distinguished service to the nation's defense and aerospace programs. "In addition to his pioneering contributions to GPS commercialization, Charlie has had a big impact on Caltech and JPL," Professor Gharib stated. "As an alumnus and trustee, he deeply understands the needs of Caltech and serves the community with dedication and insight." [Caltech story]

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Mechanics of Materials Across Nano to Geological Time and Length Scales


A symposium was organized at Brown University on September 16-17, 2016 to celebrate the technical contributions of Professor Ares Rosakis on the occasion of his 60th birthday. The symposium was chaired by Professors Pradeep Guduru, Huajian Gao, and G. Ravichandran. It brought together distinguished engineers and scientists from multiple disciplines to discussion research frontiers relating to the mechanics of materials across nano to geological time and length scales. [Symposium program] [Photos]

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Modular Space Telescope Could Be Assembled By Robot


Professor Sergio Pellegrino and colleagues including Professor Joel Burdick, are proposing a space observatory with a 100 meters diameter primary mirror. Their design calls for the use of more than 300 deployable truss modules that could be unfolded to form a scaffolding upon which a commensurate number of small mirror plates could be placed to create a large segmented mirror. In this concept, a spider-like, six-armed "hexbot" would assemble the trusswork and then crawl across the structure to build the mirror atop it. [Caltech story]

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The Utility of Instability


Professors Dennis M. Kochmann and Chiara Daraio along with colleagues from Harvard have designed and created mechanical chains made of soft matter that can transmit signals across long distances. Because they are flexible, the circuits could be used in machines such as soft robots or lightweight aircraft constructed from pliable, nonmetallic materials. "Engineers tend to shy away from instability. "Though there are many applications, the fundamental principles that we explore are most exciting to me," Kochmann says. "These nonlinear systems show very similar behavior to materials at the atomic scale but these are difficult to access experimentally or computationally. Now we have built a simple macroscale analogue that mimics how they behave." [Caltech story]

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Moriah Bischann Wins SURF Speaking Competition


Material science undergraduate student Moriah Bischann, mentored by aerospace postdoctoral scholar, Dr. Owen Kingstedt, is the winner of the Doris S. Perpall Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) Speaking Competition. She was recognized as the best speakers-out of the 200 students who presented their SURF research. Her summer research focused on exploring the next generation of structural materials. During her ten week SURF project she studied the effects of alloying and processing on the dynamic behavior of magnesium (Mg). This work was done to address the larger question of whether Mg is a useful material for the automotive, aerospace, energy, and defense industries where a material is needed that has low density, but also the strength to withstand high impact forces.

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Cancer Treatment in a Painless Patch


Mechanical engineering undergraduate student, Teo Wilkening, spent this past summer working with Professor Gharib to test the preliminary design for an alternative—and possibly much less painful—method of chemotherapy drug delivery through a patch. To avoid the pain caused by the large needle traditionally used for such an intravenous injection, the team envisioned a patch containing hundreds of micrometer-scale needles, too small in diameter to be sensed by the nerves in the skin. [Caltech story]

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Digital Holographic Microscopy


Professor Morteza Gharib, and Dr. Jay Nadeau from GALCIT, as well as Dr. Christian Lindensmith from JPL are three of the four principle investigators on the holographic microscope project, dubbed SHAMU (Submersible Holographic Astrobiology Microscope with Ultraresolution). Their ultimate goal is to send the microscope on a spacecraft to search for biosignatures—signs of life—on other worlds such as Mars or Saturn's icy moon Enceladus. Holography is a method for recording holistic information about the light bouncing off a sample so that a 3-D image can be reconstructed at some later time. Compared to microscopy, holography offers the advantages of focusing over a relatively large volume and of capturing high-resolution images, without the trouble of moving parts that could break in extreme environments or during a launch or landing. [Caltech feature] [Videos of microbial mobility]

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Department of Aerospace (GALCIT)