A report describes a model that estimates the orientation of the backup reaction wheel using the reaction wheel spin rates telemetry from a spacecraft. Attitude control via the reaction wheel assembly (RWA) onboard a spacecraft uses three reaction wheels (one wheel per axis) and a backup to accommodate any wheel degradation throughout the course of the mission. The spacecraft dynamics prediction depends upon the correct knowledge of the reaction wheel orientations. Thus, it is vital to determine the actual orientation of the reaction wheels such that the correct spacecraft dynamics can be predicted.

The conservation of angular momentum is used to estimate the orientation of the backup reaction wheel from the prime and backup reaction wheel spin rates data. The method is applied in estimating the orientation of the backup wheel onboard the Cassini spacecraft. The flight telemetry from the March 2011 prime and backup RWA swap activity on Cassini is used to obtain the best estimate for the backup reaction wheel orientation.

This work was done by Farheen Rizvi of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. NPO-48350

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Estimating the Backup Reaction Wheel Orientation Using Reaction Wheel Spin Rates Flight Telemetry from a Spacecraft

(reference NPO-48350) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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