Andrea Milani Challenge

The 'Andrea Milani' Challenge

A worldwide student competition on parameter determination for asteroids and space debris

Summer 2021

The European Innovative Training Network Stardust-Reloaded has the pleasure to announce the launch of the “Andrea Milani” Challenge, in honour of the great Italian mathematician and astronomer Prof Andrea Milani who passed away suddenly in 2018. He was an early pioneer in asteroid impact monitoring, and a stalwart in the field of celestial mechanics. He was involved in several ESA missions including BepiColombo and JUICE, and with the creation of SpaceDys and the near Earth asteroid database NeoDys.

Stardust-Reloaded invites students from all around the world to compete in two challenges within the fields of asteroids and space debris monitoring and detection. These topics are part of a larger effort by Stardust-R, and others; critical for the long-term safety of our planet from space threats as well as the long term sustainability of the human presence into space.

The competition is open to teams composed of undergraduate, graduate or PhD students registered in any University degree programme worldwide. The competition is additionally open to all the Early Stage Researchers from the Stardust-R network

Challenge Description

There will be two challenge problems, each is numerical in nature on the topic of parameter estimation of either space debris or an asteroid. The problems pull primarily from the fields of mathematics, physics and astrodynamics, computer science, and aerospace engineering.

Each challenge has two stages. Stage I is open to everyone. The three teams with the best numerical scores from Stage I will advance to Stage II, to present their solution at an international workshop in front of a panel of experts.

STAGE I: Teams have to solve a complex numerical problem on parameter estimation for either space debris or asteroids, within a given time window. The solution to the problem will be assessed by a single numerical metric. At the deadline, the teams with the 3 highest ranked solutions will advance to Stage II.

STAGE II: The top 3 teams will be present their approach to a panel of experts at the Stardust-R Global Virtual Workshop on Space Traffic Management and Resilient Space Environment in September 2021. One winner for each category will be announced at the conference closing ceremonies, based on their technical approach and innovation in solving the challenge.

Guidelines & Rules

More details on the competition rules will be released closer to the challenge opening date in June 2021.

  • Teams can register for one or both challenges. Every team member must be registered in a university degree programme.
  • There are no limits on the size of the teams
  • A person may only belong to one team
  • Teams are allowed to receive support and guidance from (non-student) supervisors and mentors, but they cannot be directly involved in solving the problem
  • Detailed description of the two challenge problems will be released on the first day of the challenge through the challenge web portal
  • Teams will have a set time window (between 1-2 months) to return their numerical solution

Key Dates

Pre-registration:28 Feb — 20 May 2021
Challenge opens:1 Jun 2021
Challenge closes (Stage I):Jul 2021 (TBA)
Stage II presentations
(at GVW-II, and final awards):
13-17 Sept 2021

How to participate

If you are interested in entering the competition to solve one of the two challenges, simply register your team here before the deadline (20 May 2021). 

You will need to provide:

  • Name of the team
  • Name of the team leader and contact information
  • Full name, email, institution and level of study of each team member
  • Field of challenge (either “space debris” or “asteroids”)

The team lead will receive a confirmation email once registered. Detailed information on how to participate will be sent by email to all the teams  who have registered.

The name of the teams, the name of the team leader and their contact email, and the challenge field will be made available on the Stardust-R Andrea Milani Challenge web page. Interested students can contact the team leaders to ask to join the teams at any point before the opening of the challenge.

A PDF of the Andrea Milani Challenge announcement can be found here: