A document presents a summary of an onboard estimation algorithm now being used to calibrate the alignment of the Spitzer Space Telescope (formerly known as the Space Infrared Telescope Facility). The algorithm, denoted the S2P calibration filter, recursively generates estimates of the alignment angles between a telescope reference frame and a star-tracker reference frame. At several discrete times during the day, the filter accepts, as input, attitude estimates from the star tracker and observations taken by the Pointing Control Reference Sensor (a sensor in the field of view of the telescope). The output of the filter is a calibrated quaternion that represents the best current mean-square estimate of the alignment angles between the telescope and the star tracker. The S2P calibration filter incorporates a Kalman filter that tracks six states — two for each of three orthogonal coordinate axes. Although, in principle, one state per axis is sufficient, the use of two states per axis makes it possible to model both short- and long-term behaviors. Specifically, the filter properly models transient learning, characteristic times and bounds of thermomechanical drift, and long-term steady-state statistics, whether calibration measurements are taken frequently or infrequently. These properties ensure that the S2P filter performance is optimal over a broad range of flight conditions, and can be confidently run autonomously over several years of in-flight operation without human intervention.

This work was done by David Bayard of Caltech for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Mechanics/Machinery category.

The software used in this innovation is available for commercial licensing. Please contact Karina Edmonds of the California Institute of Technology at (626) 395-2322. Refer to NPO-43375.

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Estimation Filter for Alignment of the Spitzer Space Telescope

(reference NPO-43375) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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This article first appeared in the March, 2007 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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