Orbit Model Analysis And Dynamic Filter Compensation For Onboard Autonomy
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Orbit of a spacecraft in three dimensional Inertial Reference Frame is in general represented by a standard set of six parameters like Keplerian Orbital Elements namely semimajor axis, eccentricity, inclination, argument of perigee, right ascension of ascending node, and true anomaly. An orbit can also be represented by an equivalent set of six parameters namely the position and velocity vectors, hereafter referred as orbit-vectors. The process of determining the six orbital parameters from redundant set of observations (more than the required minimum observations) is known as Orbit Determination (OD) process. This is, in general, solved using Least Squares principle. Availability of accurate, almost continuous, space borne observations provide tremendous scope for simplifications and new directions in Autonomous OD (AOD). The objective of this thesis is to develop a suitable scheme for onboard autonomy in OD, specifically for low-earth-orbit-missions that are in high demand in the immediate future. The focus is on adopting a simple orbit model by a thorough study and analysis by considering the individual contributions from the different force models or component accelerations acting on the spacecraft. Second step in this work is to address the application of an onboard estimation scheme like Kalman Filter for onboard processing. The impact of the approximation made in the orbit model for filter implementation manifests as propagation error or estimation residuals in the estimation. The normal procedure of tuning the filter is by getting an appropriate state and measurement noise covariance matrices by some means, sometimes through trial and error basis. Since this tuning is laborious and the performance may vary with different contexts, it is attempted to propose a scheme on a more general footing, with dynamically compensating for the model simplification. There are three parts of this problem namely (i) Analysis of different Orbit Dynamics Models and selection of a simplified Onboard Model (ii) Design of an Estimator Filter based on Kalman Filter approach for Onboard Applications and (iii) Development of a suitable Filter Compensation procedure to ensure best estimates of orbit vectors even with the simplified orbit model. Development of a Numerical Integration scheme (and a software tool) and extensive simulation exercises to justify the conclusion on the simple model to be used in the estimation procedure forms the first part of the thesis. Tables quantify the effect of individual accelerations and demonstrate the effects of various model components on orbit propagation. In general, it is well known that the atmospheric drag is a non-conservative force and reduces energy; it is also known that the effect of first zonal harmonic term is predominant than any other gravity parameters; such anticipated trends in the accuracies are obtained. This particular exercise is carried out for orbits of different altitudes and different inclinations. The analysis facilitates conclusions on a limited model orbit dynamics suitable for onboard OD. Procedures and results of this model selection analysis is published in Journal of Spacecraft Technology, Vol. 16, No.1,pp 8-30, Jan 2006, titled “Orbit Model Studies for Onboard Orbit Estimation” . Design of Estimator based on Kalman Filter There are two steps involved in dealing with the next part of the defined work: • Design and implementation of Extended Kalman Filter Estimation (EKF) scheme • Steps to compensate for approximation made in the reduced orbit dynamics The GPS receivers on board some of the IRS satellites (for example, the Resource-Sat-1), output the GPS Navigation Solutions (GPSNS) namely the position and velocity vectors of the IRS satellite along with the Pseudo-range measurements. These are recorded onboard for about two orbits duration, and are down loaded. An Extended Kalman Filter Algorithm for the estimation of the orbit vectors using these GPSNS observations is developed. Estimation is carried out assuming a Gaussian white noise models for the state and observation noises. The results show a strong dependence on the initial covariance of the noise involved; reconstruction of the observations results only if the assumption of realistic noise characteristics (which are unknown) is strictly adhered. Hence this simple non-adaptive EKF is found inadequate for onboard OD scheme. Development of the Dynamics Filter Compensation (DFC) Scheme In next part of the thesis, the problem of dealing with the un-modeled accelerations has been addressed. A suitable model-compensation scheme that was first developed by D.S Ingram el at  and successfully applied to Lunar missions, has been modified suitably to treat the problem posed by the reduced orbit dynamics. Here, the un-modeled accelerations are approximated by the OU stochastic process described as the solution of the Langavin stochastic differential equation. A filter scheme is designed where the coefficients of the un- modeled acceleration components are also estimated along with the system state yielding a better solution. Further augmentation to the filter include a standard Adaptive Measurement Noise covariance update; results are substantiated with actual data of IRS-P6 (Resource–Sat 1, see chapter 4). Classified as the Structured Adaptive Filtering Scheme, this results in a Dynamic Filter Compensation(DFC) Scheme which provides distinctly improved results in the position of the state. First, the estimation is carried out using actual GPS Navigation Solutions as observations. What is to be estimated itself is observed; the State-Observation relation is simple. The results are seen to improve the orbit position five times; bringing down the position error from 40 meters to about 8 meters. However, this scheme superimposes an extra factor of noise in the velocity vector of the GPSNS solutions. It is noted that this scheme deals only with the process noise covariance. To tackle the noise introduced in the velocity components, modifications of the original scheme by introducing an adaptive measurement noise covariance update is done. This improves the position estimate further by about 2 meters and also removes the noise introduced in the velocity components and reconstructs the orbit velocity vector output of the GPSNS. The results are confirmed using one more set of actual data corresponding to a different date. This scheme is shown to be useful for obtaining continuous output –without data gaps- of the GPSNS output. Next, the estimation is carried out taking the actual GPS observations which are the Pseudo Range, Range rate measurements from the visible GPS satellites (visible to the GPS receiver onboard ). Switching over to the required formulation for this situation in the state-measurement relation profile, estimation is carried out. The results are confirmed in this case also. Clear graphs of comparisons with definitive orbital states (considered as actual) versus estimated states show that the model reduction attempted at the first part has been successfully tackled in this method. In this era of space-borne GPS observations, where frequent sampling of the orbiting body is suggestive of reduced orbit models, an attempt for replacement of the conventional treatment of expensive and elaborate OD procedure is proved feasible in this thesis work.
- Mathematics (MA) 
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