In 2021, Koh came across a paper that discussed how to grapple with chaotic orbits from the perspective of symplectic geometry, an abstract field of math that is generally far removed from messy real-world details. She started to suspect that symplectic geometry might have the tools she needed to better understand orbits, and she got in touch with Agustin Moreno, the author of the paper. Moreno, then a postdoctoral fellow at Uppsala University in Sweden, was surprised and pleased to hear that someone at NASA was interested in his work. “It was unexpected, but it was also quite interesting and sort of motivating at the same time,” he said.

This is the beauty of pure academic research – someone makes an unforeseen connection and our collective knowledge grows. You never know how people will apply your work later. Pretty neat and compelling example of the value of basic research.

tags: research math science space

posted by matt in Sunday, May 5, 2024