|Michael A. Minovitch|
|Doctoral advisor||Shoshichi Kobayashi|
|Known for||Planetary Grand Tour|
Michael Andrew Minovitch (born c. 1936) is an American mathematician who showed that spacecraft trajectories could be designed such that they could gain velocity by travelling close to a planet orbiting the sun. This gravity assist technique was developed in the early 1960s when he was a UCLA graduate student working summers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In 1961 Minovitch began using the fastest available computer, the IBM 7090, to solve the three-body problem that had perplexed astronomers for three centuries. He ran simulations and developed a solution by 1962.
Early studies of comets in the late 19th century showed that their orbits were quite different after they had made a close approach to Jupiter. This indicated that a transfer of energy had occurred during the encounter, but it was not until Minovitch's work that it was shown to be useful in planning an interplanetary voyage.
Michael patented a vehicle for space travel under the patent title Magnetic propulsion system and operating method, US Patent 6193194 B1.
- Christopher Riley and Dallas Campbell (October 23, 2012). "The maths that made Voyager possible". BBC News. Retrieved 2014-10-14.
- Wolverton, Mark (2004). The Depths of Space: The Story of the Pioneer Planetary Probes. Joseph Henry Press. ISBN 0309090504.
- Minovitch, Michael (July 11, 1961). "An Alternative Method for Determination of Elliptic and Hyperbolic Trajectories" (PDF). Jet Propulsion Laboratory Technical Memos (TM-312-118).
- Minovitch, Michael (August 23, 1961). "A Method For Determining Interplanetary Free-Fall Reconnaissance Trajectories" (PDF). Jet Propulsion Laboratory Technical Memos (TM-312-130). pp. 38–44.
- "The Pioneer Missions". nasa.gov. March 26, 2007. Retrieved 2015-01-29.
- Bill Casselman. "Slingshots and Space shots". American Mathematical Society. Retrieved 2015-01-29.
- Michael Minovitch at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
- Michael Minovitch's Gravity Assist History Site.
- Jupiter swing-by trajectories passing near the earth Includes comprehensive history of the development of gravity-assist trajectories.
- Interview of Michael Minovitch by BBC Horizon on YouTube
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