Post-Flight Estimation of Motion of Space Structures: Part 1

A computer program estimates the relative positions and orientations of two space structures from data on the angular positions and distances of fiducial objects on one structure as measured by a targettracking electronic camera and laser range finders on another structure. The program is written specifically for determining the relative alignments of two antennas, connected by a long truss, deployed in outer space from a space shuttle.

The program is based partly on transformations among the various coordinate systems involved in the measurements and on a nonlinear mathematical model of vibrations of the truss. The program implements a Kalman filter that blends the measurement data with data from the model. Using time series of measurement data from the tracking camera and range finders, the program generates time series of data on the relative position and orientation of the antennas. A similar program described in a prior NASA Tech Briefs article was used onboard for monitoring the structures during flight. The present program is more precise and designed for use on Earth in post-flight processing of the measurement data to enable correction, for antenna motions, of scientific data acquired by use of the antennas.

This program was written by Paul Brugarolas and William Breckenridge of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

This software is available for commercial licensing. Please contact Karina Edmonds of the California Institute of Technology at (626) 395-2322. Refer to NPO-45072.

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