Safe Onboard Guidance and Control Under Probabilistic Uncertainty

An algorithm was developed that determines the fuel-optimal spacecraft guidance trajectory that takes into account uncertainty, in order to guarantee that mission safety constraints are satisfied with the required probability. The algorithm uses convex optimization to solve for the optimal trajectory. Convex optimization is amenable to onboard solution due to its excellent convergence properties.

The algorithm is novel because, unlike prior approaches, it does not require time-consuming evaluation of multivariate probability densities. Instead, it uses a new mathematical bounding approach to ensure that probability constraints are satisfied, and it is shown that the resulting optimization is convex. Empirical results show that the approach is many orders of magnitude less conservative than existing set conversion techniques, for a small penalty in computation time.

This work was done by Lars James Blackmore of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. NPO-46155

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