accurate inertial navigation system (INS) is coupled with GPS receivers to provide stable and highly accurate positioning, attitude, and inertial measurements while being subjected to highly dynamic maneuvers. In contrast to conventional methods that use extensive, ground-based, real-time tracking and control units that are expensive, large, and require excessive amounts of power to operate, this method focuses on the development of an estimator that makes use of a low-cost, miniature accelerometer array fused with traditional measurement systems and GPS. Through the use of a position tracking estimation algorithm, onboard accelerometers are numerically integrated and transformed using attitude information to obtain an estimate of position in the inertial frame. Position and velocity estimates are subject to drift due to accelerometer sensor bias and high vibration over time, and so require the integration with GPS information using a Kalman filter to provide highly accurate and reliable inertial tracking estimations.

The method implemented here uses the local gravitational field vector. Upon determining the location of the local gravitational field vector relative to two consecutive sensors, the orientation of the device may then be estimated, and the attitude determined. Improved attitude estimates further enhance the inertial position estimates. The device can be powered either by batteries, or by the power source onboard its target platforms. A DB9 port provides the I/O to external systems, and the device is designed to be mounted in a waterproof case for all-weather conditions.

This work was done by Liang Tang of Impact Technologies and Agamemnon Crassidis of the Rochester Institute of Technology for Goddard Space Flight Center. GSC-16132-1