DYNAMICS OF FLEXIBLE SPACE STRUCTURES

This topic is motivated by the desire to understand the sometimes fascinating dynamics of various flexible sructures in space; the work involved some combination of mechanics, dynamical systems and modeling.  
One of the results of  [19]   is an interesting symmetry--seeking effect: a certain freely tumbling ``satellite"  with a variable tensor of inertia approaches asymptotically a rigid shape (due to internal dissipation)  whose tensor of inertia is an ellipsoid of rotation; of all possible shapes the system could take it chooses the one with a rotationally symmetric inertia tensor.  
In the paper  [27] with Stephane Laederich we studied  the dynamics of  simple model problems:   free planar chains;  using   calculus of variations we showed that    a free two--ended chain with $N$ joints admits periodic motions in which each of the $N$ angles between the neighboring links increases by its own arbitrarily prescribed integer  multiple of $2\pi$.

 

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