Tides and Elastic Bodies, the Dynamics of Moons and some Space Science and Geophysics

Developed for computer graphics, mass spring models are simple and fast and can be used to accurately track body deformations, and they accurately conserve angular momentum but they have not previously been used in astrophysics. We are creating a new field we call `astro-elastodynamics' or 'soft astronomy'. Our recent papers 1) proposing that tidal encounters can cause crustal failure (and a new geophysical process!); 2) showing that we can accurately measure tidal spin down for spherical bodies directly tying simulated rheology to tidal evolution; 3) measuring and understanding spin down rates of ellipsoids (and moving into an area with no prior analytical predictions). 4) Explaining the high obliquity of Pluto and Charon's satellites with a new type of spin resonance. 5) Studying propagation of impact excited seismic waves and normal mode excitation on an asteroid. For a talk on simulating tidal dynamics with mass-spring models see Talk on tides! Spin dynamics and Cracking Charon!
I worked on the Uranian satellite system to try and better understand the chaotic dynamics of closely packed orbiting systems. It's the setting in the Solar system that is closest dynamically to the recently discovered (from the Kepler mission) tightly packed compact planetary systems.
Brief forays into space science and geophysics are tagged below.