CHANCE project will enhance capabilities to deliver future Earth-to-Moon transport

Author: Alan Cesar
Multi-university proposal has received $4.5 million in funding from the U.S. Air Force
AAE faculty David Arnas, Kathleen Howell and Ken Oguri are working on the Characterizing Highways and Automated Navigation in Cislunar Environment (CHANCE) project through Purdue's Cislunar Initiative. Howell is the project's Principal Investigator (PI).

Purdue University is collaborating with three other institutions to build the foundation for space operations to, from, and throughout the Earth and moon neighborhood. The tools developed in the CHANCE project (Characterizing Highways and Automated Navigation in Cislunar Environment) will aid government agencies and commercial space companies to successfully operate in cislunar space – and even into deep space – more sustainably.

The CHANCE proposal was granted $4.5 million in funding from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research in July 2023.

Researchers from Purdue, the University of Texas at Austin, Penn State, and Georgia Tech will look at challenges to path planning, navigation, and control, within the context of space domain awareness in cislunar space. The team’s principal investigator, Kathleen Howell, is a world-renowned expert in multi-body dynamics and the Hsu Lo Distinguished Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue.

CHANCE researchers plan to improve the understanding of pathways throughout the cislunar region, and to leverage these insights to track and predict the locations of objects beyond geosynchronous orbit (XGEO). The team will use collaborative resources and expertise under the Purdue Cislunar Initiative, Penn State's Consortium for Planetary and Exoplanetary Science and Technology (CPEST) and UT-Austin’s Center for Space Research (CSR)

The unique dynamical characteristics of this region and the associated pathways will then be incorporated into spacecraft navigation and control responses. This interdisciplinary work will also enable commercial space operators interested in resource extraction, space manufacturing, and even tourism.

CHANCE will address challenges with Earth-Moon L2 halo orbits and Circular Restricted 3-Body Problems (CR3BP).

Work done in recent decades has made it a relatively well-known process to operate and launch satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO), enabling a boom in commercial space operations. But other factors come into play further out, where Earth’s gravity becomes less dominant. “In LEO there are certain characteristics that govern spacecraft motion, and catalogs are built upon these characteristics. The use of the same characteristics may no longer be a complete approach to represent many of the trajectories in the cislunar region and XGEO,” says Howell.

Data from previous moon missions is also insufficient for the scale of operations expected in cislunar space.

“For Apollo, the mission was to get to the moon, visit briefly, come back. If we want to stay, we have to know how the environment evolves over time and the other opportunities there are for return as well as move throughout the region,” Howell says. “Getting to [the Lunar] Gateway is particularly difficult because we’ll be going to an orbit that is not as familiar and has not hosted a such a facility previously for long-term operation, which is, in some ways, more challenging than landing on the moon.”

The diverse CHANCE team is made up of three full professors, one associate and two assistant professors, and two professors as collaborators. They also boast a squad of 14 graduate students across the participating institutions.



Principal Investigator (PI):

Dr. Kathleen Howell, Hsu Lo Distinguished Professor

School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Purdue University


Dr. Kenshiro Oguri, Assistant Professor, School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Purdue University

Dr. Puneet Singla, Professor, Aerospace Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University

Dr. Roshan Eapen, Assistant Professor, Aerospace Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University

Dr. John A. Christian, Associate Professor, Aerospace Engineering, Georgia Tech

Dr. Maruthi Akella, Professor, Aerospace Engineering & Engineering Mechanics, University of Texas at Austin



Dr. David Arnas, Assistant Professor, School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Purdue University

Dr. Anton Leykin, Professor, School of Mathematics, Georgia Tech



Publish date: September 11, 2023
Author: Alan Cesar