ACSER PhD Student wins 2018 SGAC Move an Asteroid Competition

Arunkumar Rathinam, winner of the 2018 SCAG Move an Asteroid competition
Arunkumar Rathinam, winner of the 2018 SCAG Move an Asteroid competition

ACSER is pleased to share the news that the SGAC has announced our senior PhD student Arunkumar Rathinam as the winner of the 2018 Move an Asteroid Competition. The competition challenged students and young professionals worldwide to develop original ideas relating to Near-Earth Objects. The scholarship enables one outstanding SGAC member to attend the 17th Space Generation Congress and the 69th International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany.

This is the second time a UNSW student has won this competition, after UNSW Mechanical Engineering PhD student, William Crowe, won back in 2015.


Arunkumar Rathinam

Arunkumar is a PhD student at the Australian Center for Space Engineering Research group in the University of New South Wales, Sydney.  His interests in space robotics and small celestial bodies exploration directly lead to his PhD research in autonomous spacecraft navigation around an asteroid. His research aims to develop a robust Simultaneous Localization and Mapping framework using on-board navigation camera and other sensors to assist the spacecraft map the surface of the asteroid and estimate its position.

He received a double degree from University of Würzburg (Germany) and Luleå University of Technology (Sweden) in 2015 within Erasmus-Mundus Master course (MSc) in Space Science and Technology program.  While in Germany, he also did a research internship at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Munich. He received his bachelor’s degree (B.E) in Mechanical Engineering from Anna University, India in 2007. With experiences gained from traveling and studying in universities across the world, he encourages the students from developing countries to pursue their dream and explore the opportunities. He hopes to play a significant role in building an ecosystem in developing countries to provide space education and bring the brilliant minds into space exploration.

Upon accepting the award, Arunkumar wrote:

“I feel honoured to win Move an Asteroid Competition and receive the SGAC scholarship. This scholarship enables me to attend both SGC and IAC 2018 with additional financial support. With lot of networking opportunities at Bremen, I’m looking forward to a wonderful experience at the conference.”

SGAC would like to thank Jim Burke for his generous continued support of SGAC and this annual scholarship.

Congratulations to the winner and see you in Bremen, Germany!


(modified from the original, from, 14 August 2018)