I’m a technologist and space origami engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. I develop technologies for the next generation of spacecraft structures that need to be folded up for launch and then unfolded once in space.
In my free time, I photograph things, fold paper, produce and act in theater shows, play music, and write stuff.
I work on the packaging and deployment of spacecraft structures. To fit inside launch vehicles, many large spacecraft structures need to be packaged. Once in space, they need to be deployed. I design ways of folding these thin, large-area structures, and study how they unfold once in space. A particular focus is to use origami as a point of inspiration to design ways of folding large-areas structures (such as antennas, photovoltaic arrays, sunshields, and solar sails).
Here’s a video of one of my experiments:
I’ve collected some notable large-area deployable space structures in a (occasionally updated) chart here.
M Arya, D Webb, J McGown, PD Lisman, S Shaklan, SC Bradford, J Steeves, E Hilgemann, B Trease, M Thomson, S Warwick, G Freebury, and J Gull, Starshade mechanical design for the Habitable Exoplanet Imaging Mission Concept (HabEx), Proc. SPIE 10400, Techniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets VIII, 104001C, 2017.
CA Steeves, GD Hibbard, M Arya, and AT Lausic, Dynamics of Nanolattices: Polymer-Nanometal Lattices in Dynamics of Lattice Materials, A S Phani and M I Hussein eds., Chichester, United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2017.
M Arya, N Lee, and S Pellegrino, Crease-free biaxial packaging of thick membranes with slipping folds, International Journal of Solids and Structures, vol 108, pp 24-30, March 2017.
M Arya, Packaging and Deployment of Large Planar Spacecraft Structures, PhD thesis, California Institute of Technology, 2016.
M Arya, N Lee, and S Pellegrino, Ultralight structures for space solar power satellites, 3rd Spacecraft Structures Conference, January 2016, San Diego, California.
M Arya, N Lee, and S Pellegrino, Wrapping thick membranes with slipping folds, 2nd Spacecraft Structures Conference, January 2015, Kissimmee, Florida.
E Stone, L Alkalai, L Friedman, … M Arya …, Science and Enabling Technologies for the Exploration of the Interstellar Medium, Final Report for the Keck Institute for Space Studies, 2015, Pasadena, California.
M Arya and S Pellegrino, Deployment mechanics of highly compacted thin membrane structures, 55th AIAA/ASME/ASCE/AHS/ASC Structures, Structural Dynamics, and Materials Conference, January 2014, National Harbor, Maryland.
C Underwood, S Pellegrino, V Lappas, C Bridges, B Taylor, S Chhaniyara, T Theodorou, P Shaw, M Arya, J Breckinridge, K Hogstrom, KD Patterson, J Steeves, L Wilson, N Horri, Autonomous assembly of a reconfigurable space telescope (AAReST), 27th Annual Small Satellite Conference, August 2013, Logan, Utah.
PC Liewer, AT Klesh, MW Lo, N Murphy, RL Staehle, V Angelopolous, BD Anderson, M Arya, S Pellegrino, J W Cutler, EG Lightsey, and A Vourlidas, A fractionated space weather base at L5 using CubeSats and solar sails, 3rd International Symposium on Solar Sailing, June 2013, Glasgow, Scotland.
M Arya and CA Steeves, Bandgaps in octet truss lattices, 23rd Canadian Congress of Applied Mechanics, June 2011, Vancouver, Canada.
M Arya and CA Steeves, Wave propagation in periodic lattices, Poster, Undergraduate Engineering Research Day, August 2010, Toronto, Canada.
In The News
Ancient Origami Art Becomes Engineers’ Dream in Space, Elizabeth Lee, Voice of America, 26 October 2017.
How the ancient art of origami is inspiring NASA’s new technologies, Jason Henry, Pasadena Star-News, 4 October 2017.
What Looks Good on Paper May Look Good In Space, Andrew Good, JPL News, 22 September 2017.
Starshade & Eclipses, Robert Picardo, The Planetary Post, 31 July 2017.
Origami… in Space!, Caltech Breakthrough Campaign, 26 April 2017.
Into the Fold, Diana W. Thompson, Verso: The Blog of the Huntington Library, 4 April 2016.