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Title: Autonomous Orbit Estimation For Near Earth Satellites Using Horizon Scanners
Authors: Nagarajan, N
Advisors: Bhat, M Seetharama
Submitted Date: Jul-1994
Publisher: Indian Institute of Science
Abstract: Autonomous navigation is the determination of satellites position and velocity vectors onboard the satellite, using the measurements available onboard. The orbital information of a satellite needs to be obtained to support different house keeping operations such as routine tracking for health monitoring, payload data processing and annotation, orbit manoeuver planning, and prediction of intrusion in various sensors' field of view by celestial bodies like Sun, Moon etc. Determination of the satellites orbital parameters is done in a number of ways using a variety of measurements. These measurements may originate from ground based systems as range and range rate measurements, or from another satellite as in the case of GPS (Global Positioning System) and TDUSS (Tracking Data Relay Satellite Systems), or from the same satellite by using sensors like horizon sensor^ sun sensor, star tracker, landmark tracker etc. Depending upon the measurement errors, sampling rates, and adequacy of the estimation scheme, the navigation accuracy can be anywhere in the range of 10m - 10 kms in absolute location. A wide variety of tracking sensors have been proposed in the literature for autonomous navigation. They are broadly classified as (1) Satellite-satellite tracking, (2) Ground- satellite tracking, (3) fully autonomous tracking. Of the various navigation sensors, it may be cost effective to use existing onboard sensors which are well proven in space. Hence, in the current thesis, the Horizon scanner is employed as the primary navigation sensor-. It has been shown in the literature that by using horizon sensors and gyros, a high accuracy pointing of the order of .01 - .03 deg can be achieved in the case of low earth orbits. Motivated by such a fact, the current thesis deals with autonomous orbit determination using measurements from the horizon sensors with the assumption that the attitude is known to the above quoted accuracies. The horizon scanners are mounted on either side of the yaw axis in the pitch yaw plane at an angle of 70 deg with respect to the yaw axis. The Field Of View (FOV) moves about the scanner axis on a cone of 45 deg half cone angle. During each scan, the FOV generates two horizon points, one at the space-Earth entry and the other at the Earth-space exit. The horizon points, therefore, lie• on the edge of the Earth disc seen by the satellite. For a spherical earth, a minimum of three such horizon points are needed to estimate the angular radius and the center of the circular horizon disc. Since a total of four horizon points are available from a pair of scanners, they can be used to extract the satellite-earth distance and direction.These horizon points are corrupted by noise due to uncertainties in the Earth's radiation pattern, detector mechanism, the truncation and roundoff errors due to digitisation of the measurements. Owing to the finite spin rate of the scanning mechanism, the measurements are available at discrete time intervals. Thus a filtering algorithm with appropriate state dynamics becomes essential to handle the •noise in the measurements, to obtain the best estimate and to propagate the state between the measurements. The orbit of a low earth satellite can be represented by either a state vector (position and velocity vectors in inertial frame) or Keplerian elements. The choice depends upon the available processors, functions and the end use of the estimated orbit information. It is shown in the thesis that position and velocity vectors in inertial frame or the position vector in local reference frame, do result in a simplified, state representation. By using the f and g series method for inertial position and velocity, the state propagation is achieved in linear form. i.e. Xk+1 = AXK where X is the state (position, velocity) and A the state transition matrix derived from 'f' and 'g' series. The configuration of a 3 axis stabilised spacecraft with two horizon scanners is used to simulate the measurements. As a step towards establishing the feasibility of extracting the orbital parameters, the governing equations are formulated to compute the satellite-earth vector from the four horizon points generated by a pair of Horizon Scanners in the presence of measurement noise. Using these derived satellite-earth vectors as measurements, Kalman filter equations are developed, where both the state and measurements equations are linear. Based on simulations, it is shown that a position accuracy of about 2 kms can be achieved. Additionally, the effect of sudden disturbances like substantial slewing of the solar panels prior and after the payload operations are also analysed. It is shown that a relatively simple Low Pass Filter (LPF) in the measurements loop with a cut-off frequency of 10 Wo (Wo = orbital frequency) effectively suppresses the high frequency effects from sudden disturbances which otherwise camouflage the navigational information content of the signal. Then Kalman filter can continue to estimate the orbit with the same kind of accuracy as before without recourse to re-tuning of covariance matrices. Having established the feasibility of extracting the orbit information, the next step is to treat the measurements in its original form, namely, the non-linear form. The entry or exit timing pulses generated by the scanner when multiplied by the scan rate yield entry or exit azimuth angles in the scanner frame of reference, which in turn represents an effective measurement variable. These azimuth angles are obtained as inverse trigonometric functions of the satellite-earth vector. Thus the horizon scanner measurements are non-linear functions of the orbital state. The analytical equations for the horizon points as seen in the body frame are derived, first for a spherical earth case. To account for the oblate shape of the earth, a simple one step correction algorithm is developed to calculate the horizon points. The horizon points calculated from this simple algorithm matches well with the ones from accurate model within a bound of 5%. Since the horizon points (measurements) are non-linear functions of the state, an Extended Kalman Filter (EKF) is employed for state estimation. Through various simulation runs, it is observed that the along track state has got poor observability when the four horizon points are treated as measurements in their original form, as against the derived satellite-earth vector in the earlier strategy. This is also substantiated by means of condition number of the observability matrix. In order to examine this problem in detail, the observability of the three modes such as along-track, radial, and cross-track components (i.e. the local orbit frame of reference) are analysed. This difficulty in observability is obviated when an additional sensor is used in the roll-yaw plane. Subsequently the simulation studies are carried out with two scanners in pitch-yaw plane and one scanner in the roll-yaw plane (ie. a total of 6 horizon points at each time). Based on the simulations, it is shown that the achievable accuracy in absolute position is about 2 kms.- Since the scanner in the roll-yaw plane is susceptible to dazzling by Sun, the effect of data breaks due to sensor inhibition is also analysed. It is further established that such data breaks do not improve the accuracy of the estimates of the along-track component during the transient phase. However, filter does not diverge during this period. Following the analysis of the' filter performance, influence of Earth's oblateness on the measurement model studied. It is observed that the error in horizon points, due to spherical Earth approximation behave like a sinusoid of twice the orbital frequency alongwith a bias of about 0.21° in the case of a 900 kms sun synchronous orbit. The error in the 6 horizon points is shown to give rise to 6 sinusoids. Since the measurement model for a spherical earth is the simplest one, the feasibility of estimating these sinusoids along with the orbital state forms the next part of the thesis. Each sinusoid along with the bias is represented as a 3 state recursive equation in the following form where i refers to the ith sinusoid and T the sampling interval. The augmented or composite state variable X consists of bias, Sine and Cosine components of the sinusoids. The 6 sinusoids together with the three dimensional orbital position vector in local coordinate frame then lead to a 21 state augmented Kalman Filter. With the 21 state filter, observability problems are experienced. Hence the magnetic field strength, which is a function of radial distance as measured by an onboard magnetometer is proposed as additional measurement. Subsequently, on using 6 horizon point measurements and the radial distance measurements obtained from a magnetometer and taking advantage of relationships between sinusoids, it is shown that a ten state filter (ie. 3 local orbital states, one bias and 3 zero mean sinusoids) can effectively function as an onboard orbit filter. The filter performance is investigated for circular as well as low eccentricity orbits. The 10-state filter is shown to exhibit a lag while following the radial component in case of low eccentricity orbits. This deficiency is overcome by introducing two more states, namely the radial velocity and acceleration thus resulting in a 12-state filter. Simulation studies reveal that the 12-state filter performance is very good for low eccentricity orbits. The lag observed in 10-state filter is totally removed. Besides, the 12-state filter is able to follow the changes in orbit due to orbital manoeuvers which are part of orbit acquisition plans for any mission.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2005/155
Appears in Collections:Aerospace Engineering (aero)

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