2018.B.4.5. In-Flight Orbit Determination for a Deep Space CubeSat


Boris Segret (1)
Daniel Hestroffer (2)
Gary Quinsac (1)
Marco Agnan (3)
Jordan Vannitsen (3)
Benoît Mosser (1)

  1. Observatoire de Paris PSL, LESIA, France
  2. Observatoire de Paris PSL, IMCCE, France
  3. ODYSSEUS Space Co. Ltd., Taiwan




Autonomous Navigation, Deep Space, Object Tracker


The low cost of CubeSats seems promising for deep space, swarms and constellations, provided that the operations remain at low cost too. A realistic autonomous Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC) would contribute. Here we present our road-map for BIRDY-T, an autonomous GNC technology, and our latest developments with its In-Flight Orbit Determination (IFOD). The IFOD combines an asynchronous triangulation of foreground objects and a Kalman filter. The triangulation is inverted with a weighted least squares method. The solution then feeds the Kalman filter whose noise measurement matrices are optimized. The performances are assessed for a case study in “cruise” context, an interplanetary journey from Earth to Mars. Optical measurements of the directions of planets are assumed. A second case study is considered in a context of “proximity operations” where a CubeSat accompanies a mothercraft in a rendez-vous mission to a double asteroid, flying at close range multiple times. A software architecture for Monte-Carlo simulations is implemented to embed the IFOD algorithm and to assess how the optical errors propagate. The latest results will be presented: accuracy in cruise context lower than 100 km at 1-sigma with reasonable assumptions, extent of the validity domain, potentials for improvements, necessary adaptations to the context of proximity operations. This promising autonomous GNC could allow deep-space missions for a fraction of the cost of announced interplanetary CubeSats.


  • Download the slides in PDF format here (3MB)

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