Kalman filtering for relative spacecraft attitude and position estimation
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In this work, a novel approach is developed for relative navigation and attitude estimation of spacecraft flying in formation. The approach uses information from an optical sensor, which employs relatively simple electronic circuits with modest digital signal processing requirements, to provide multiple line-of-sight vectors from spacecraft to another. The sensor mechanism is well suited for both near-Earth and deep space applications since it is fully independent of any external systems. The line-of-sight measurements are coupled with gyro measurements and dynamical models in an extended Kalman filter to determine relative attitude, position and gyro biases. The quaternion is used to describe the relative kinematics. General relative orbital equations and Clohessy-Wiltshire (CW) equation are used to describe the positional dynamics. Simulation results indicate that the combined sensor/estimator approach provides accurate relative position and attitude estimates.