The Advanced Astrodynamics Concepts (AAC) research group  concentrates on spacecraft and mission design concepts that may advance both robotic and human exploration of the Solar System in the next decades. AAC is led by Professor James M. Longuski and Professor Sarag Saikia in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue University.

Some of the ongoing research projects include the following:

  • Mission architecture to establish permanent human presence on Mars.
  • Aerocapture techniques, concepts, and technology forecasting.
  • Mission concepts for the exploration of small solar system bodies (minor planets, asteroids, comets, KBOs etc.).
  • Rapid conceptual planetary science mission design.
  • Design of planetary atmospheric probes for the exploration of the gas giant planets.
  • Innovative and low-cost planetary exploration missions concepts using small satellites.
  • Systems and technologies for Venus In Situ Missions.
  • Development of analytical planetary entry theories for conceptual design.
  • Mission concept formulation for the exploration of the Ice-Giant planets, Uranus and Neptune. Includes trajectory design; entry, descent, and landing, and their interaction with science objectives.
  • Design of aerogravity assist missions.
  • Analytic theory of spacecraft attitude dynamics and control.
  • Deep space radiation mitigation using an Ultra-Massive Mars Cycler.

Please see the dissertations and publications section to know more about the past research carried out by the group. Information for prospective students can be found here. You can explore students’ spacecraft design projects or learn elementary rocket science for beginners. There is also a page dedicated to media. Explore.


AAC participated in the NASA’s Ice Giant Mission Studies by closely working with the┬áNASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The work with JPL was to perform Aerocapture Assessment at the Ice Giant planets, Uranus and Neptune, which was led by Prof. Sarag Saikia along with Prof. Longuski and AAC students.