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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Lost in Space: Autonomous Deep Space Navigation
by Dahir, Andrew Russell, Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder, 2020, 192; 27737615
Abstract (Summary)

When a spacecraft loses time, position, and velocity information, and has no communication with Earth, the spacecraft becomes lost in space. On-board faults or power loss can leave the spacecraft without time, position, or velocity. This research investigates the feasibility of a “cold start” independent determination of time, position, and velocity using self-acquired optical observations of the planets, satellites, and stars, thereby re-initializing the mission operations using low size, weight and power sensors compatible with small satellites. These observations are then followed by filter-based determination of time, position, and velocity from the chosen optical beacons available in interplanetary spaceflight. The objective will be to add robustness and enhanced fault-to-recovery capability to deep space spacecraft.

Such cases of a lost in space spacecraft have not been systematically investigated until now. This research will show that it is indeed possible to solve this problem, recovering time and state, and will show analysis in the context of the high precision requirements of planetary missions.

This capability is analogous to that of advanced star trackers that can initialize themselves by identifying any star field in the celestial sphere. Being able to quickly and autonomously recover time and position from an environment with no Earth contact will advance mission safety and automation from current methods which require an Earth contact. The impact of this concept crosses both human (full loss of communication scenario) and robotic (autonomous recovery from onboard fault) exploration applications, where some form of spacecraft-to-ground communication is required to establish approximates for time and position. In both cases, the current state-of-the-art navigation systems require some knowledge of time and some approximate position to initialize the estimation process before the mission objectives can be obtained.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Palo, Scott
Commitee: Kubitschek, Daniel, Riedel, Joseph, Marshall, Robert, McMahon, Jay, Baumgart, Matthew
School: University of Colorado at Boulder
Department: Aerospace Engineering
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: DAI 81/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Aerospace engineering
Keywords: Autonomous navigation, CubeSats, Deep space, Lost-in-space, Optical navigation, Satellite navigation
Publication Number: 27737615
ISBN: 9798645453015
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