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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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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Dr. Rittel Recognized by Academy of Sciences of Turin


Dr. Daniel Rittel, long term GALCIT Visiting Associate working with Professors Ravichandran and Rosakis, has been awarded the 2015 “Angiola Gili e Cataldo Agostinelli” international prize for Applied or Theoretical Mechanics by the Academy of Sciences of Turin, Italy. Dr. Rittel has performed pioneering research in the mechanics of materials, with particular focus on the coupling thermomechanical solids. His work has demonstrated that the energy stored in the material is not only due to thermodynamic effects, but also due to changes in the microstructure identified as dynamic recrystallization. His research has also led to a paradigm shift in the modeling of the localization phenomena of sliding dynamics, combining the science of materials with the mechanics using numerical simulations. [List of past recipients]

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Space Solar Power Initiative


Caltech and Northrop Grumman Corporation have signed a $17.5 million sponsored research agreement for the development of the Space Solar Power Initiative (SSPI). The initiative will develop technologies in three areas: high-efficiency ultralight photovoltaics; ultralight deployable space structures; and phased array and power transmission. "The Space Solar Power Initiative brings together electrical engineers, applied physicists, and aerospace engineers in the type of profound interdisciplinary collaboration that is seamlessly enhanced at a small place like Caltech... We are working on extremely difficult problems that could eventually provide the world with new, and very cost-competitive technology for sustainable energy,” said EAS Chair Ares Rosakis. [Caltech story] [Northrop Grumman Release]

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How To Study High-Speed Flows


Joanna Austin, Professor of Aerospace, researches fundamental problems in reactive, compressible flows with applications in hypervelocity flight and planetary entry, supersonic combustion and detonation, bubble dynamics, and explosive geological events. She remarks, “gas dynamics, and particularly looking at gas dynamics in reacting flows… [is] the thing I really love. It's a very challenging, coupled, problem. As the fluid is going through the model that you're studying, you also have to account for the fact that the state of the fluid is changing—the gas is chemically reacting, so it's changing from reactants to products, or it's redistributing its energy states, or both. Understanding how best to model these processes, that's what excites me.” [Interview with Professor Austin]

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Professor Ravichandran Receives SEM Murray Lecture and Medal


Guruswami (Ravi) Ravichandran, John E. Goode, Jr. Professor of Aerospace and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and Director of GALCIT, has been awarded the Society of Experimental Mechanics (SEM) William M. Murray Lecture and Medal. He delivered the 2014 Murray Lecture entitled, Three-Dimensional Quantitative Visualization: Application to Studying Cell-Matrix Interactions, on June 3, 2014 during the SEM Annual Conference and Exposition on Experimental and Applied Mechanics. The award was made in recognition of his pioneering contributions in experimental mechanics of deformation, damage and failure of materials under multiaxial dynamic loading. The Murray Lecture is the highest distinction awarded by SEM and is the prestige lecture of its annual conference.  The Murray Lecture was established in 1952 in honor of the first President of SEM, William MacGregor Murray who was a Professor and Executive Officer of Mechanical Engineering at MIT.

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Department of Aerospace (GALCIT)