Picture of Dr. Rohan Sood

Associate Professor

Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics

212 Hardaway Hall
 (205) 348-4020
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  • Ph.D., Aeronautics and Astronautics, Purdue University, 2016
  • M.S., Aeronautics and Astronautics, Purdue University, 2012
  • B.S., Aerospace Engineering, University at Buffalo, 2009


Dr. Rohan Sood’s primary research investigates innovative spacecraft trajectory design leveraging natural dynamics to deliver cost-effective solutions. In 2018, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center selected Dr. Sood’s Technical Excellence proposal on Advanced Trajectory Design. In 2019, he was awarded the Astrodynamics in Support of Icy World Missions grant by NASA HQ. Sood is also the recipient of the Center innovation Funds from NASA-Jet Propulsion Laboratory for two consecutive years (2019-2021). In 2021, he was actively involved with NASA’s Solar Cruiser trajectory design in collaboration with MSFC’s Mission Design and Navigation Team. More recently, he is investigating trajectories to enable Solar Polar Imager mission to explore the poles of the Sun, something that has never been done before. Dr. Sood has also been awarded NASA SBIR (2019-2020) and DOD – Air Force STTR (2022-2023). Some of the current projects or research topics are:

  • Innovative solar sail solutions to NASA missions (NEA Scout and Solar Cruiser)
  • Applying game theory for spacecraft rendezvous and protection
  • Multi-spacecraft multi-target trajectories to asteroids and icy moons
  • Missed thrust resilient spacecraft on long duration missions
  • Artificial intelligence based spacecraft trajectory design

Dr. Sood’s scientific discoveries of lunar lava tubes and buried craters has received widespread coverage by the BBC and National Geographic that led to collaboration with the Japanese Space Agency, JAXA. Dr. Sood’s lab, the Astrodynamics and Space Research Laboratory, also employs a variety of hardware and software to enhance visualization (3-D and VR, and AR) of spacecraft trajectories, mission architecture, and to improve student classroom experience.

Honors and Awards

  • UA President’s Faculty Research Award Emerging Scholar For outstanding research by The University of Alabama, 2023
  • Estus H. and Vashti L. Magoon Award for excellence in teaching by School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Purdue University, 2011
  • Senior Scholar Award for excellence in engineering by School of Engineering & Applied Sciences, SUNY Buffalo, 2009

Areas of Research

Latest Publications

  • Akhavan-Tafti, M., Johnson, L., Sood, R., Slavin, J. A., Pulkkinen, T., Lepri, S. Kilpua, E., Fontaine, D., Szabo, A., Wilson, L., Le, G., Atilaw, T., Ala-Lahti, M., Soni, S. L., Biesecker, D., Jian, L., and Lario, D., “Space weather investigation Frontier (SWIFT),” Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences, 2023. DOI: 10.3389/fspas.2023.1185603
  • Pezent, J. B., and Sood, R., “New Solution to Euler’s Equations for Asymmetric Bodies: Applications to Spacecraft Reorientation,” AIAA Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, 2022. DOI: 10.2514/1.G006747
  • Sikes, J., Pezent, J.B., Sandel, C., Rubinsztejn, A., and Sood, R., “GTOC 11 –Results from the University of Alabama Team,” Special Issue Acta Astronautica, 2022. DOI: 10.1016/j.actaastro.2022.06.038
  • Elkins, J., Sood, R., and Rumpf, C., “Bridging Reinforcement Learning and Online Learning for Spacecraft Attitude Control,” AIAA Journal of Aerospace Information Systems, 2022. DOI: 10.2514/1.I010958
  • Rubinsztejn, A., Sandel, C. G., Sood, R., and Laipert, F., “Designing Trajectories Resilient to Missed Thrust Events Using Expected Thrust Fraction,” Aerospace Science and Technology, vol. 115, Aug. 2021. DOI: 10.1016/j.ast.2021.106780