Trajectory around planet

Active Learning in Physics, Astronomy and Engineering with NASA’s General Mission Analysis Tool

Nigel Paul Bannister


Astrodynamics is the study of the motion of artificial satellites and spacecraft, subject to both natural and artificially induced forces. It combines celestial mechanics, attitude dynamics and aspects of positional astronomy to describe spacecraft motion and enable the planning and analysis of missions. It is of significant interdisciplinary interest with relevance to physics, astronomy and spaceflight engineering, but can be challenging to deliver in an effective, engaging manner because of the often abstract nature of some concepts, the four-dimensional nature of the problems, and the computation required to explore realistic astrodynamics behaviour. The University of Leicester has adopted NASA’s General Mission Analysis Tool as a core resource to support active learning in this subject for students at Level 6 (BSc) and Level 7 (MSc). This paper describes our approach to the implementation of GMAT as an essential element of teaching and learning in the subject.


Teaching Practice; Flipped Classroom Teaching;

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