Finding a New Route to the Moon Using Paintings

Edward Belbruno
Proceedings of Bridges 2009: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture (2009)
Pages 323–324


A new theory of space travel using low energy chaotic trajectories was dramatically demonstrated in 1991 with the rescue of a Japanese lunar mission, getting its spacecraft, Hiten, to the Moon on a different type of route. The design of this route and the theory behind it is based on finding regions of instability about the Moon. This approach to space travel was inspired by a painting of the Earth-Moon system which revealed these regions and the new chaotic trajectories. The brush strokes in the painting revealed the dynamics of motion which are verified by the computer. The painting itself can be used as a way to uncover dynamics in the field of celestial mechanics that cannot be easily found my standard mathematical methods.