Giusy Falcone, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Robotics Institute @CMU

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About

My ultimate research goal is to design and develop dynamic autonomous robotics solutions that are capable of reasoning and reacting to enable space missions currently unattainable, but highly desired.

As the space industry evolves, new challenging applications are on the horizon, which require complex, intelligent, dynamic, autonomous robotic systems capable of making rational decisions. My research aims to meet this need by designing environment-aware decision-making space systems through an interdisciplinary approach based on my expertise in hypersonic and space systems; space guidance, navigation, and control; flight mechanics; mission design; trajectory optimization; and artificial intelligence.

I'm a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, and I work in the REx Lab group on trajectory optimization for space applications under the guidance of Prof. Zachary Manchester. Before joining CMU, I was at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where I obtained my Ph.D. degree in Aerospace Engineering. At UIUC, I worked in the Aerospace Mission Analysis Lab under the guidance of Prof. Zachary R. Putnam. While a graduate student, I focused on the development of innovative techniques enabling low-cost, autonomous space missions. As part of my dissertation, I developed techniques for autonomous decision-making and optimal control guidance algorithms for enhancing aerobraking flight performance while managing mission risk. I am a recipient of the 2022 AIAA Intelligent Systems Best Paper Award, AE Alumni Advisory Board Fellowship, Mavis Future Faculty Fellowship, Graduate Student Service Award and Robert Beatty Fellowship.

Prior to pursuing my Ph.D. studies, I worked as a visiting scholar for Prof. Soon-Jo Chung at UIUC investigating NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission control problem. As a result, I developed robust control algorithms for a 30-DOF system consisting of a robotic spacecraft and an asteroid boulder. I earned my bachelor's and master's degree in Aerospace Enginnering at University of Pisa, where I was advised by Professor Giovanni Mengali. I'm originally from Vieste (in the picture), Gargano, which is a gorgeous beach town on the south-eastern coast of Italy.

My long-long-term academic and professional goal is to contribute to human space exploration either indirectly (robot spacecraft that are so intelligent that they can support human exploration in the long run) or directly (sustainable crewed missions). For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of more humans participating in space programs (and maybe even becoming one of them one day). Because of that, space has always captured my attention, and I have always wanted to discover more about it. As a result of my passion for space exploration, my creativity and perseverance drive my daily research work, where I always strive to come up with innovative solutions that enhance space exploration.

I am firmly committed to the elimination of inequalities and exploitations in society. As a woman in aerospace engineering, my path hasn't always been straightforward. Since I am part of an underrepresented group in a male-dominated environment, I know firsthand how it feels to be different. I have also witnessed, unfortunately, the psychological issues some of my female colleagues developed during their engineering studies, including panic attacks and eating disorders. In light of my personal experience, I feel compelled to promote an environment that is harmonious and inclusive, eliminates inequalities, and where everyone feels supported and embraced. To this end, in my daily life, I'm committed to this belief, and I constantly question myself about which smaller or bigger actions I can take to make a difference for others, and then I fearlessly and kindly take them.

Projects

Per aspera sic itur ad astra

More to come...
Autonomous Aerobraking Implemented via PR-DRL
Aerobraking Trajectory Control using Articulated Solar Panels
Closed-Form Trajectory Solution For Shallow, High-Altitude Atmospheric Flight
Aerobraking Trajectory Simulator - Open Source on GitHub!
Drag-Modulation Aerocapture Maneuver at Mars
Chariot to the Moons of Mars
Control for the Asteroid Redirect Mission (CIF Project JPL)

Publications

Journal Manuscripts

[2022] Falcone, G., Putnam, Z. R. (2022). Autonomous Decision-Making for Aerobraking via Parallel Randomized Deep Reinforcement Learning. IEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems.

[2021] Falcone, G., Putnam, Z. R. (2021). Energy Depletion Guidance for Aerobraking Atmospheric Passes. AIAA Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, 56(6), 1689-1703.

[2019] Falcone, G., Williams, J. W., & Putnam, Z. R. (2019). Assessment of Aerocapture for Orbit Insertion of Small Satellites at Mars. AIAA Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, 56(6), 1689-1703.

[2022] Falcone, G., Engel, D., Cortinovis, M., Ryan, C., Rovey, J., Lembeck, M., Putnam, Z.R (2022). Comparison of Propulsion System Options for Satellite Servicer Applications. AIAA Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, submitted August 2022.

[2022] Falcone, G., Ryan, C., Rovey, J., Lembeck, M., Putnam, Z.R (2022). Assessment of Mission Performance of Propulsion Options for Robotic Servicers using Markov-Chain Monte Carlo Architecture. AIAA Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, submitted September 2022.

Conference Proceedings

[2023] Tracy, K., Falcone, G., Manchester Z. (2023). Robust Entry Guidance with Atmospheric Adaptation. In 2023 AIAA SciTech Forum. National Harbor, MD.

[2022] Falcone, G., Putnam, Z.R. (2022). Deep Reinforcement Learning for Autonomous Aerobraking Maneuver Planning. In 2022 AIAA SciTech Forum. San Diego, CA. (2022 AIAA Intelligent Systems Best Paper Award)

[2022] Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS). Revolutionizing Access to the Mars Surface. Culbert, C.J., Ehlmann, B.L., Fraeman, A.A., editors., Final Workshop Report for the W.M. Keck Institute for Space Studies, Pasadena, CA

[2022] Falcone, G., Engel, D., Cortinovis, M., Ryan, C., Rovey, J., Lembeck, M., Putnam, Z.R. (2022). Mission Performance Assessment of Multimode Propulsion for Satellite Servicing Applications. In IEEE Aerospace Conference 2022. Big Sky, MT.

[2021] Falcone, G., Putnam, Z.R. (2021). Design and Development of an Aerobraking Trajectory Simulation Tool. In 2021 AIAA SciTech Forum. Nashville, TN.

[2020] Falcone, G., Putnam, Z. R. (2020). Closed-Form Trajectory Solution For Shallow, High-Altitude Atmospheric Flight. In 2020 Astrodynamics Specialist Conference . Lake Tahoe, CA.

[2020] Austin, A. et al. (2020). Enabling and Enhancing Science Exploration Across the Solar System: Aerocapture Technology for SmallSat to Flagship Missions. (White Paper) International Planetary Probe Workshop Webinar Series.

[2020] Dutta, S. et al. (2020). Aerocapture as an Enhancing Option for Ice Giants Missions. (White Paper) International Planetary Probe Workshop Webinar Series.

[2019] Falcone, G., & Putnam, Z. R. (2019). Aerobraking Trajectory Control Using Articulated Solar Panels. In 2019 Astrodynamics Specialist Conference . Portland, ME.

[2018] Falcone, G., Williams, J. W., & Putnam, Z. R. (2018). Aerocapture System Options for Delivery of Small Satellites to Mars. In 41st Annual AAS Rocky Mountain Section Guidance and Control Conference, 2018 (pp. 271–284). Univelt Inc.

[2016] Falcone, G., Saxena, A., Bandyopadhyay, S., Chung, S. J., & Hadaegh, F. (2016). Attitude control of the asteroid redirect robotic mission spacecraft with a captured boulder. In AIAA/AAS Astrodynamics Specialist Conference (p. 5645).

Contact

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