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Edward Belbruno

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Edward Belbruno
Belbruno lecturing to an astronomy club
Born (1951-08-02) August 2, 1951 (age 72)
CitizenshipUnited States
Alma materNew York University
AwardsHumboldt Research Award (2017) Aviation Week Laurels Award (1998) for rescue of HGS-1
Scientific career
FieldsCelestial mechanics
InstitutionsBoston University 1980-1985,

Jet Propulsion Laboratory 1985 - 1990, Pomona College 1990 - 1991, University of Minnesota 1992 - 1997, Princeton University

Yeshiva University

Edward Belbruno (born August 2, 1951, as a U.S. Citizen in Heidelberg, Germany) is an artist, mathematician and scientist whose interests are in celestial mechanics, dynamical systems, dynamical astronomy, and aerospace engineering. His artistic media is paintings, and his artwork in the NASA collection, Charles Betlach II collection,[1] and exhibited in Paris, Rome, Los Angeles, Washington DC, New York City, Minneapolis, Shanghai, WeiHai, and Princeton.

Belbruno received his associate degree from Mitchell College, his Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from New York University and his PhD in mathematics from New York University's Courant Institute in 1981, where his mentor was mathematician Jürgen Moser.

He was employed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory from 1985 to 1990 as an orbital analyst on such missions as Galileo, Magellan, Cassini, Ulysses, Mars Observer, and others. During that time, he laid the foundations for the first systematic application of chaos theory to space flight originally called fuzzy boundary theory, which allows for the construction of very low energy paths for spacecraft.[2]

In 1990 Belbruno applied his ideas for low energy transfer orbits to the Japanese lunar probe Hiten, which had been designed only for lunar swing-by and had suffered a failure of the Hagoromo lunar orbiter. The main Hiten probe lacked the fuel to enter lunar orbit using a conventional Hohmann transfer trajectory, but Belbruno was able to devise a ballistic capture trajectory that would put it in lunar orbit using only a negligible amount of fuel. The probe entered lunar orbit in 1991, the first time that Belbruno's ideas had been put to the test.

Belbruno had first proposed using a low-energy transfer orbit for a JPL probe in 1988. However, he faced a great deal of skepticism, and found himself in conflict with engineers. He had also expected to make no progress on Hiten, but the Japanese proved receptive to his ideas and called ballistic capture an "amazing result." He left JPL in fall of 1990 and took a position at Pomona College.[3]

Belbruno is president and founder of the company Innovative Orbital Design, Inc., based in Princeton, New Jersey and holds patents on routes in space. He consulted on the rescue of the Asiasat-3 communications satellite for Hughes, although a different trajectory was ultimately used for the rescue.

Belbruno's books include Fly Me to the Moon and Capture Dynamics and Chaotic Motions in Celestial Mechanics. He is a consultant with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and has made appearances on NBC's Today Show and NPR's Studio 360 entitled "Propelled to Paint".[4]

In 2013, Belbruno gave a TED talk on his math, art, and science at TEDxJacksonHole 2013 Disrupt, which featured engaging visionaries and storytellers who shared ideas worth spreading centered around the theme of DISRUPT. The event was held before a packed house on October 5, 2013, at the Center for the Arts.[5]

The abstract expressionist paintings of Ed Belbruno reflect both inner and outer realities. Belbruno is self-taught and draws inspiration from his subconscious and his personal life, but is also deeply influenced by his research in math, science, and astrophysics.[6] Belbruno was featured at the Shanghai Art Fair, November 2–5, 2017[7] and the West Contemporary Arts Appreciation Society exhibition, in Weihai in 2018.[8] An exhibition of his work at Agora Gallery (530 West 25th Street, New York) on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 included a screening of the documentary "Painting the Way to the Moon" and special guest Neil deGrasse Tyson.[9]

A documentary by Jacob Okada called "Painting the Way to the Moon" explores the life, art, and science of NASA-JPL mathematician, Ed Belbruno, and includes a discussion on the nature of scientific creativity with Neil deGrasse Tyson. It won Best Feature Documentary at the Philip K. Dick, Boston Sci-Fi, and NYLA Film Festivals.[10]

Belbruno was awarded the Humboldt Research Award in November, 2017 in recognition for his “Accomplishments in Research and Teaching in Mathematics as Applied to Celestial Mechanics, Astrodynamics and AstroPhysics”.[11] The Humboldt Research Award is Germany's most prestigious award in mathematics and sciences which supported Belbruno in a yearlong stay in Germany at the University of Ausburg.[12]

Currently, Belbruno is a Clinical Professor of Mathematics at Yeshiva University[13] and a Visiting Research Collaborator at Princeton University.[14]

See also



  1. ^ "Art and Entropy". Santa Clara Magazine. July 16, 2015. Archived from the original on 2020-09-27.
  2. ^ "Low Energy Routes Using Chaos in Space Travel and Astronomy". Goddard Space Flight Center Engineering Colloquium, NASA. May 1, 2000. Archived from the original on 2001-03-03.
  3. ^ Belbruno, Edward. Fly me to the moon: an insider's guide to the new science of space travel. Princeton University Press, 2007.
  4. ^ "Propelled to Paint". Studio 360. January 22, 2010. Archived from the original on 2021-08-10. Retrieved August 10, 2021.
  5. ^ "TEDxJacksonHole 2013 Disrupt". TEDxJacksonHole. Archived from the original on 2015-08-30. Retrieved August 10, 2021.
  6. ^ "Artist Biography". Official website of Edward Belbruno. Archived from the original on 2016-03-18. Retrieved July 28, 2021.
  7. ^ "Shanghai Art Fair 2017". Agora Gallery. Archived from the original on 2017-10-28. Retrieved July 28, 2021.
  8. ^ "West Contemporary Arts Appreciation Society Exhibition". Agora Gallery. Archived from the original on 2021-08-10. Retrieved July 28, 2021.
  9. ^ "Dr. Edward Belbruno is Painting the Way to the Moon". Yeshiva University Faculty News. Archived from the original on 2020-08-05. Retrieved July 28, 2021.
  10. ^ "Painting the Way to the Moon". First Encounter Productions. Archived from the original on 2021-08-10. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  11. ^ "Edward Belbruno Humboldt Foundation Profile". Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Archived from the original on 2021-07-29. Retrieved July 28, 2021.
  12. ^ "Astrophysics' Ed Belbruno wins Humboldt Research Award". Princeton University Department of Astrophysical Sciences. Nov 30, 2017. Archived from the original on 2017-12-15.
  13. ^ "Yeshiva University Faculty Directory". Archived from the original on 2020-08-12. Retrieved June 19, 2021.
  14. ^ "Princeton University Department of Astrophysical Sciences Faculty Directory". Archived from the original on 2020-12-17. Retrieved June 19, 2021.