ECE Seminar with Alessandra Babuscia

4:00 pm on Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Photonics Center, 8 Saint Mary’s St., Room 339
Development of Innovative Communication Technologies and Design Strategies to Meet the Emerging Needs of Space Exploration With Alessandra Babuscia Space System Laboratory Massachusetts Institute of Technology Faculty Host: Joshua Semeter Refreshments will be served outside Room 339 at 3:45 p.m. Abstract: Interplanetary exploration is becoming extremely challenging with respect to the current financial situation. Budget cuts experienced by different space agencies worldwide are impacting planetary science such that it is of vital importance to develop innovative approaches to space exploration. Alessandra Babuscia`s talk will focus on two main strategies which will allow the scientific community to perform interplanetary exploration while meeting the emerging budget constraints. The first strategy is miniaturization: the use of small satellites (CubeSats, ESPA satellites) to perform interplanetary exploration. Babuscia will discuss the technologies required to use small satellite platforms in the context of interplanetary exploration, especially in the field of communication. She will report on the technologies that she is currently developing, focusing on the inflatable antenna technology, which has the potential of being game changing. The main design features of the antenna will be described and the results of the electromagnetic simulations and of the environmental tests will be presented. The second strategy is the development of efficient design approaches to counteract programmatic cost increases due to uncertainty. Alessandra Babuscia will present statistical risk estimation (SRE) for communication system design: a methodology that she developed to quantify the likelihood that the major design drivers of a communication system would meet the spacecraft constraints through the mission design lifecycle. Using a cluster of data statistics and expert statistics, SRE allows communication engineers to evaluate and to compare different communication architectures in a risk trade-off perspective. Future research developments as well as interdisciplinary applications of both strategies will also be discussed. About the Speaker: Alessandra Babuscia received a B.S. and M.S. in electrical engineering from Politecnico di Milano, Italy, in 2005 and 2007, respectively. She received her Ph.D. (2012) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she worked as research assistant and teaching assistant in the Space System Laboratory. She is currently a postdoctoral research associate at MIT in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and in the Department of Earth Atmospheric and Planetary Science. She has developed communication systems for different university missions (CommCube-1, CommCube-2, ThrusterSat, CASTOR, ExoPlanetSat, TerSat, TALARIS). She worked for three years at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory as summer researcher in the Communication Architecture Research Group. Her research interests are in the fields of: communication technologies for small satellites, communication architecture design, statistical risk analysis, expert elicitation, and mission scheduling and planning. She was awarded the first prize at the 2nd Mission Idea Context for Nano Satellite in Japan (2012), the Amelia Earhart Fellowship Award (twice, years 2010 and 2011), the Gordon Engineering Leadership Fellowship (twice, 2010 and 2011), the Teaching Assistant Award for the MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Department (2010), the Top Graduate Student Award (2007), and the Top Undergraduate Student Award (2005) from Politecnico di Milano during the M.S. and B.S. programs, respectively.