Questions tagged [navigation]

Topics that relate to orbit determination and flight path control. May also be used for navigation on the surface of celestial objects.

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How does the orbit determination accuracy depend on the measurement accuracy?

How does the measurement accuracy affect the orbit determination accuracy? Is there any analytical way to find that relation? E.g., 10m range measurement accuracy (1sigma) results in a 100m RMS error ...
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Most accurate attitude determination system in spacecraft?

It seems that IMUs suffer from integration errors that build up over time, so they are not the most accurate means of determining the attitude of your spacecraft. So what then would be the most ...
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Could a Mars rover reliably navigate using the local magnetic fields?

Mars does not have a global magnetic field which guides charged particles entering the atmosphere. Mars has multiple umbrella-shaped magnetic fields mainly in the Southern Hemisphere, which are ...
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Detailed description of space shuttle major and minor GNC loops

Warning: repetitive question ahead. Please skip if you're tired of splitting hairs on these things. Is there a detailed description of the major and minor GNC loops of the space shuttle? I've learned ...
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Falcon 9: Stable platform or strapdown IMU?

What type of IMU does the Falcon 9 use? Is it a stable platform aligned with a global frame by gimbals? Or is it a strapdown system fixed to the body of the rocket and therefore aligned not with a ...
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Was space shuttle position corrected for before orbital insertion?

The space shuttle derived its attitude and state vector primarily from its integrating accelerometers and rate gyros. Data from the accelerometers and rate gyros came in at a low rate (0.25-0.5 Hz, or ...
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How well could the New Horizons spacecraft localize itself in space in 3D using parallax?

NASA’s New Horizons Conducts the First Interstellar Parallax Experiment was exciting news, the spacecraft's computer, communication and camera all continue to work in the Kuiper belt due to rigorous ...
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How far would we have to get from the Solar system to be unable to recognize constellations?

So the question is simple. How many light years would we have to go from Earth until we would be unable to determine known constellations?
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Guidance vs. Navigation vs. Estimation

I'm still confused over what exactly falls under the scope of Navigation, Guidance, and Estimation systems. Say I have a bunch of IMUs and use them to determine my position and orientation and my ...
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Finding way back in Intergalactic travel

Is it possible to create GPS-equivalent system for space travel to guide us in which direction to travel? Assume that if we are able to reach a far-off galaxy millions or billions of light-years away ...
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What's the current state of Venus orbital infrastructure?

As per this Wikipedia article there have been a total of 5 orbiters successfully deployed to Venus: Venera-15 Venera-16 Magellan Venus Express Akatsuki Of which only the Akatsuki seems to be ...
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What's the current state of Mars orbital infrastructure?

As per this Wikipedia article Mars currently has 6 operational artificial satellites: 2001 Mars Odyssey Mars Express Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mars Orbiter Mission Mars Atmosphere and Volatile ...
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Travel time from lunar orbit (EML2) to Jupiter using skyhook only?

I am doing background research for a science fiction story, and hoping someone can help with this navigational question. Voyager 2 reached Jupiter from Earth in about 2 years. However (if I understand ...
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Is pulsar timing a viable positioning system for solar system missions

I was reading one of the questions about a version of GPS around Mars, and I started wondering about a Solar system wide positioning system -- large satellites with accurate clocks and powerful ...
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How could you turn a satellite constellation into a SatNav system?

Apparently, the UK government wants to convert the OneWeb satellites into its own UK SatNav system, following Brexit which limits the UK's access to Galileo's Public Regulated Service [reports from ...
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How did early inertial navigation systems handle vibration?

In the early ICBM-era rockets, it seems that inertial navigation accuracy was critical. How did these systems filter out the noise in the data due to the vibration of the rocket? If a fairly slow ...
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How does Falcon 9 differ from Shuttle or Apollo inertial guidance?

I read a very detailed analysis of the Saturn V. From it I learned there is a computer and guidance "room" which is an extra slice of rocket stacked between the 2nd or 3rd launch stages and the the ...
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1answer
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How can I generate Chebyshev cofficients from SPICE for J2000 Inertial to Moon ME Frame?

I want to extract the Chebyshev coefficients in order to be able to calculate the time-varying transformation from the ICRF / J2000 Inertial frame to the Moon ME (moon mean earth) frame. I know I can ...
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What is the math behind satellite star trackers?

I'm trying to understand how star trackers on satellites work and what math they use to determine attitude. For example, is there any trigonometry involved with the stars and how specifically does ...
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1answer
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How does a space vehicle which carries Curiosity or Spirit rover reach a planet? [closed]

I don't know much science but was curious about it. So, what I've seen in movies is that there are lot of objects in the space and many other space items (made of rocks, moving stars etc.). So when ...
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1answer
153 views

How did the automatic sextant on the late-1950's MIT Mars Probe work?

The reason MIT was chosen to develop the Apollo guidance computer was their Instrumentation Lab. They specialised in inertial navigation and had done impressive work on inertial navigation for ...
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Perseverance Rover to drive carefully for months while helicopter hangs from underside?

The image below is cropped from the high resolution version of NASA's Mars Helicopter and Perseverance Rover PIA23824 and shows the helicopter in it's stowed position on the underside of the rover ...
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How to estimate that receiving GNSS signals Earth while orbiting the Moon will still provide locations to about 200 meters of uncertainty?

IEEE Spectrum's Can Astronauts Use GPS to Navigate on the Moon? NASA Scientists Say Yes says: Kar-Ming Cheung and Charles Lee of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California did the math, and ...
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How will NASA's software for autonomous navigation in cis-lunar space be tested; what information is processed, what outputs evaluated?

NASA news item NASA Funds CubeSat Pathfinder Mission to Unique Lunar Orbit says: The pathfinder mission represents a rapid lunar flight demonstration and could launch as early as December 2020. ...
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Could Apollo astronauts see other planets with the CM Scanning Telescope?

The Apollo Command Module had the Scanning Telescope for navigating, "Apollo astronaut located a specific star using a single-power, wide-field telescope." I'm not concerned whether it could ...
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RCS or Reaction Wheel for a 30kg cubesat

I am working on the design of a cubesat, it weighs approximately 30 kg and I am doing the Navigation and Guide Control system. I was wondering if I had some blueprint for some RCS or Reaction Wheels ...
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What is the precision attitude estimation strategy for satellites, under impulsive thrust manoeuvres?

Satellites mostly rely on star trackers and gyros for precision attitude knowledge. Under impulsive thrust manoeuvres, I expect the star trackers to blur and provide no attitude knowledge. What is the ...
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Can we go anywhere in space with only THREE reaction wheels and ONE chemical thruster?

I had a discussion the other day with some of my peers and they were very keen on the fact the it is possible to change your orbit as desired using a single thruster and a three reaction wheels. The ...
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Can reaction wheels be used for detumbling?

During orbit insertion, the satellite can start with a high tip-off rate which requires detumbling. From what I have read, detumbling is usually done using magnetorquers. I was wondering if ...
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Azimuth and elevation from satellite point of view [duplicate]

I have read for calculating azimuth and elevation from the Earth we use north east up reference frame. What reference frame is used for satellite to measure azimuth and elevation on the Earth? And ...
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How would the state vector be updated in the Apollo Guidance Computer during coasting to/from the moon if communication with Earth was lost entirely?

This source https://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/alsj-average_g.html states that: From time to time, Houston could update the onboard SV using tracking and other available date; [sic] but, generally, it ...
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How did the star tracker on the Corona (Key Hole) satellite work?

The first Corona Photographic Surveillance Satellite was launched in 1959. Starting from the third mission, launched in 1961, the satellites were equipped with a star tracker. From Wikipedia: ...
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Mode during Apollo landing in cross pointer

In this Question the excellent answer explains from the handbook that the cross pointer input can be either from landing radar or PGNS or AGS. My question is which mode was choosen during the final ...
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Radar Altimeter in Space Shuttle

I was going throught the Space Shuttle Handbook, chapter Guidance and Navigation. In one of the Note boxes, it is written Radar altimeter altitude is not used for navigation or guidance. The ...
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Given small computational resources, how was navigation implemented? (Not samples of old guidance software)

Update 2 : The youtube vidoe How did NASA Steer the Saturn V answers this question and then some, a must watch. Update: I really wanted to know how spacecraft navigation (not guidance) computers ...
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Have lunar (or martian) rovers exploited shadows, perhaps for terrain comprehension or obstacle avoidance?

This answer proposes that light bars would be better than a single headlight for night time navigation on the Moon because a single headlight will generate hard shadows. Considering this is exactly ...
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How do small, spin stabilized launchers follow a rhumb line?

This concise answer to What exactly is rhumb-line control in the context of a launch trajectory? explains the concept in the context of the SS-520 nanosatellite launch vehicle (which "doesn't exist"). ...
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What exactly is rhumb-line control in the context of a launch trajectory?

The conference paper SS-520 Nano satellite launcher and its flight result SSC18-IX-03 from the 32nd Annual AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites linked in this answer describes the use of rhumb-line ...
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How did astronauts using rovers tell direction without compasses on the Moon? [duplicate]

I read that the astronauts who used Lunar rovers used heading indicators, which typically use compasses, for direction. How, on the Moon, did their equipment tell the direction of travel, presuming a ...
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Help understanding exactly how an atomic clock facilitates “self-driving spacecraft” when paired with an onboard camera?

The TechCrunch article NASA details Deep Space Atomic Clock and other tests launching on SpaceX Falcon Heavy says: Jill Seubert, Deep Space Navigator for NASA, explained that this is the world’s ...
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How does an onboard atomic clock help interplanetary navigation?

On 2019 June 22, JPL will launch and test the accuracy of an onboard atomic clock. Its FAQ says that it will improve interplanetary navigation because for the ship to determine its position, instead ...
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Satellite mission design/performance requirements to attitude/orbit control design specifications

Are there any good sources that discuss: the steps involved in deriving attitude/orbit control design specifications, from satellite mission design/performance requirements?
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Is there any kind of research on *sub*-orbital rendezvous-ing with a space tug outside the atmosphere?

The key difference with a plain old-fashioned orbital rendezvous would seem to be that there'd be limited time to only briefly match velocities and trajectories: Let's say a vehicle launched from ...
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Celestrak GLONASS TLE's showing satellite numbers not listed in the GLONASS constellation, others missing

For a project, I'm retrieving TLE information live from http://celestrak.com/ and using them to simulate satellite orbits. The TLE's for the GLONASS constellation (http://celestrak.com/NORAD/elements/...
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When did Houston figure out where the Eagle had landed?

Between starting the descent burn three seconds late, and having to avoid landing in a boulder field, the Apollo 11 descent module almost completely missed the target landing ellipse. During Apollo ...
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Spacecraft Navigation

Reading fascinating things about New Horizon's journey in the Kuiper Belt, I asked myself the following question: how can one know the spacecraft's position and speed, and with which precision? Of ...
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A gedanken on being able to navigate back to Earth

Imagine a sphere centered at Earth with a radius of 4 light years. Suppose we pick a random point on the surface of this sphere and drop someone, let us say, "Joe" there. Will Joe be able to come back ...
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How can New Horizons reliably approach Ultima Thule over a huge distance? [duplicate]

How did New Horizons navigate to Ultima Thule over 80 million miles from Pluto given the chaotic effect of gravity (from unpredictable local and distant matter) on New Horizons and the fact that the ...
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Why doesn't New Horizons have a tracking function

Dr. John Spencer mentioned in the live feed for the Ultima Thule flyby they're taking a series of LORRI shots along a precomputed path hoping to capture the KBO. What were the obstacles to equip the ...
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How presise could 2 satellites “thread the needle” in orbit?

I have a question about using a magnetic field to propel 2 satellites off each other while traveling in opposite directions on the same orbital plain to intersect either 2:1 or 1:1 on each orbit ...