A special navigation system is being developed to provide high-quality information on the position and attitude of a moving platform (an aircraft or spacecraft), for use in pointing and stabilization of a hyperspectral remote-sensing system carried aboard the platform. The system also serves to enable synchronization and interpretation of readouts of all onboard sensors. The heart of the system is a commercially available unit, small enough to be held in one hand, that contains an integral combination of an inertial measurement unit (IMU) of the microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) type, Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, a differential GPS subsystem, and ancillary data-processing subsystems. The system utilizes GPS carrier-phase measurements to generate time data plus highly accurate and continuous data on the position, attitude, rotation, and acceleration of the platform. Relative to prior navigation systems based on IMU and GPS subsystems, this system is smaller, is less expensive, and performs better. Optionally, the system can easily be connected to a laptop computer for demonstration and evaluation. In addition to airborne and spaceborne remote-sensing applications, there are numerous potential terrestrial sensing, measurement, and navigation applications in diverse endeavors that include forestry, environmental monitoring, agriculture, mining, and robotics.
This work was done by Ching Fang Lin of American GNC Corp. for Stennis Space Center.