The Virginia Tech Formation Flying Testbed (VTFFTB) is a global navigation satellite system (GNSS)-based hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) simulation testbed for spacecraft formation flying with ionospheric remote sensing applications. Past applications considered only the Global Positioning System (GPS) constellation. The rapid GNSS modernization offers more signals from other constellations, including the growing European system—Galileo. This study presents an upgrade of VTFFTB with the incorporation of Galileo and the associated enhanced capabilities. By simulating an ionospheric plasma bubble scenario with a pair of LEO satellites flying in formation, the GPS-based simulations are compared to multi-constellation GNSS simulations including the Galileo constellation. A comparison between multi-constellation (GPS and Galileo) and single-constellation (GPS) shows the absolute mean and standard deviation of vertical electron density measurement errors for a specific Equatorial Spread F (ESF) scenario are decreased by 32.83% and 46.12% with the additional Galileo constellation using the 13 July 2018 almanac. Another comparison based on a simulation using the 8 March 2019 almanac shows the mean and standard deviation of vertical electron density measurement errors were decreased further to 43.34% and 49.92% by combining both GPS and Galileo data. A sensitivity study shows that the Galileo electron density measurements are correlated with the vertical separation of the formation configuration. Lower C/N
level increases the measurement errors and scattering level of vertical electron density retrieval. Relative state estimation errors are decreased, as well by utilizing GPS L1 plus Galileo E1 carrier phase instead of GPS L1 only. Overall, superior performance on both remote sensing and relative navigation applications is observed by adding Galileo to the VTFFTB.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited