"Transport Networks: Mapping Chaotic Motion in the Solar System and Geophysical Flows via Invariant Manifolds"

Shane Ross, Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics, Virginia Tech

The competing gravitational pull between celestial bodies creates a vast array of passageways that winds around the sun, planets and moons. These corridors are tube-like invariant manifold structures connecting regions of balance in interlinked three body problems. A collaboration of researchers has explored this complex interplanetary transport network, which not only influences the fate of comets, but may facilitate the exploration of the Moon, the asteroids, and the outer solar system, including a mission to assess the possibility of life on Jupiter's icy moons. The talk will summarize these ideas, including their relationship to other dynamical systems problems, particularly the atmospheric transport network and the role of invariant manifold-like transport barriers in the biological invasion of airborne microorganisms.

Ross is the author of several publications in the areas of mechanics and nonlinear dynamics, related to areas such as spacecraft control, transport and mixing in fluids, bio-locomotion, and chemical physics. He's received several certificates of recognition from NASA, and has coauthored a book on Dynamical Systems, the Three-Body Problem, and Space Mission Design. His work has been featured in Science, Astronomy, New Scientist, American Scientist, and several international news outlets including the BBC and the Times of London. Although he found math difficult until his early twenties when it finally 'clicked', he's had an interest in space missions, astronomy, and chaotic motion since childhood. In 2004, Ross earned a Ph.D. from Caltech in control and dynamical systems, a broad mathematical field which allows him to study a wide variety of problems in the engineering and natural sciences. He lives with his wife, son, and small dog in the lush mountains of Virginia.

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