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Special Issue "Attitude Sensors"

A special issue of Sensors (ISSN 1424-8220). This special issue belongs to the section "Physical Sensors".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Daniele Mortari
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Aerospace Engineering, Texas A&M University - 3141 TAMU, College Station, TX, USA
Interests: attitude and position estimation; sensor data processing; algorithms; satellite constellations design; linear algebra
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Attitude, that is, the knowledge of the pointing orientation in space, is the most important information for any space vehicle. The performance of space communication, observation, and navigation systems all strongly depend on how fast, reliably, and optimal the attitude information is estimated to be. This estimation comes from attitude sensors through two subsequent processes: (1) sensor data processing and (2) attitude estimation. These are the two tracks of this Special Issue on “Attitude Sensors”.

Track I: Sensor data processing. This track is particularly interested in novel ideas of attitude sensors and new approaches to increase measurement accuracy and robustness as, for instance, techniques to perform star-identification with poor knowledge of star tracker parameters and autonomous recalibration.

Track II: Attitude Estimation. This track welcomes new contributions related to both single-point and filtered attitude determination techniques. This involves, for instance, the use of dual quaternions or SVD filtering to estimate attitude and attitude rate.

Prof. Dr. Daniele Mortari
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sensors is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • spacecraft sensors
  • direction and attitude estimation
  • recalibration
  • uncertainty propagation

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Non-Dimensional Star-Identification
Sensors 2020, 20(9), 2697; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20092697 - 09 May 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 694
Abstract
This study introduces a new “Non-Dimensional” star identification algorithm to reliably identify the stars observed by a wide field-of-view star tracker when the focal length and optical axis offset values are known with poor accuracy. This algorithm is particularly suited to complement nominal [...] Read more.
This study introduces a new “Non-Dimensional” star identification algorithm to reliably identify the stars observed by a wide field-of-view star tracker when the focal length and optical axis offset values are known with poor accuracy. This algorithm is particularly suited to complement nominal lost-in-space algorithms, which may identify stars incorrectly when the focal length and/or optical axis offset deviate from their nominal operational ranges. These deviations may be caused, for example, by launch vibrations or thermal variations in orbit. The algorithm performance is compared in terms of accuracy, speed, and robustness to the Pyramid algorithm. These comparisons highlight the clear advantages that a combined approach of these methodologies provides. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attitude Sensors)
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Open AccessArticle
Design and Simulation of a High-Speed Star Tracker for Direct Optical Feedback Control in ADCS
Sensors 2020, 20(8), 2388; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20082388 - 22 Apr 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 902
Abstract
Star Trackers are often the most accurate instrument in an Attitude Determination and Control Systems, but often present a slow update rate, requiring additional sensor and sensor fusion algorithms to provide a smoother and faster output. However, the available rate gyros are either [...] Read more.
Star Trackers are often the most accurate instrument in an Attitude Determination and Control Systems, but often present a slow update rate, requiring additional sensor and sensor fusion algorithms to provide a smoother and faster output. However, the available rate gyros are either noisy, or expensive and heavy. The proposed work investigates the feasibility of high-speed star trackers with modern optics, sensors, and computing systems. Firstly, we investigate the sensitivity of an optoelectrical acquisition system stimulated by dim stars, secondly, we propose and evaluate an algorithm designed to operate at high speed and to be compatible with an Field-Programmable Gate Array implementation, before evaluating the performance of the implementation on FPGA. Finally, we debate the usability of such a system, both in terms of compatibility with a mission and CubeSat ecosystems, and in terms of performance. As a result, aside from removing the need for a rate gyro, Attitude Determination and Control Systems overall pointing performances can be increased. The proposed attitude determination system achieved a 0.001° accuracy, with a 99.1% sky coverage and an ability to reject false-positive while performing a single-frame lost-in-space star identification at a 50 Hz update rate with a total delay of 19 ms, including 13 ms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attitude Sensors)
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Open AccessArticle
Deeply Integrated GNSS/Gyro Attitude Determination System
Sensors 2020, 20(8), 2203; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20082203 - 13 Apr 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 863
Abstract
Attitude determination systems based on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) work on principle of phase interferometer, using multiple receiving antennas. They rely on a good quality of carrier phase tracking, that is not the case in real dynamic environment with low signal-to-noise ratio [...] Read more.
Attitude determination systems based on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) work on principle of phase interferometer, using multiple receiving antennas. They rely on a good quality of carrier phase tracking, that is not the case in real dynamic environment with low signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), for example, in a ground vehicle moving through an urban area or forest. There is still a problem in providing a GNSS attitude in such common conditions. This research is focused on improving sensitivity (i.e., the capability of providing attitude at a low SNR) and the reliability of the GNSS attitude determination system. It is contrasted with the majority of publications, where precision or computational efficiency is the main goal, but sensitivity and reliability are out of their scope. In the proposed system, sensitivity improved by using two measures: (a) tracking only phase differences instead of tracking full carrier phases—this is more sensitive due to the lower dynamics of the underlying process, and (b) using deep integration with gyroscope, where all phase differences are tracked in a vector gyro-aided loop closed on user’s attitude in state vector. The algorithm synthesis is given, and simulation results are presented in this article. This shows that the minimal working SNR is lowered from 27–36 dBHz (typical) down to 20 dBHz, even with a low-cost MEMS gyroscope. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attitude Sensors)
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Open AccessArticle
Theoretical Limits of Star Sensor Accuracy
Sensors 2019, 19(24), 5355; https://doi.org/10.3390/s19245355 - 05 Dec 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1009
Abstract
To achieve mass, power and cost reduction, there is a trend to reduce the volume of many instruments aboard spacecraft, especially for small spacecraft (cubesats or nanosats) with very limited mass, volume and power budgets. With the current trend of miniaturizing spacecraft instruments [...] Read more.
To achieve mass, power and cost reduction, there is a trend to reduce the volume of many instruments aboard spacecraft, especially for small spacecraft (cubesats or nanosats) with very limited mass, volume and power budgets. With the current trend of miniaturizing spacecraft instruments one could naturally ask if is there a physical limit to this process for star sensors. This paper shows that there is a fundamental limit on star sensor accuracy, which depends on stellar distribution, star sensor dimensions and exposure time. An estimate of this limit is given for our location in the galaxy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attitude Sensors)
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Open AccessArticle
LEO-Augmented GNSS Based on Communication Navigation Integrated Signal
Sensors 2019, 19(21), 4700; https://doi.org/10.3390/s19214700 - 29 Oct 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 884
Abstract
Low Earth Orbit (LEO) is of great benefit for the positioning performance of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). To realize the system of LEO-augmented GNSS, three methods to integrate communication and navigation signal for LEO communication system with the least influence on the [...] Read more.
Low Earth Orbit (LEO) is of great benefit for the positioning performance of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). To realize the system of LEO-augmented GNSS, three methods to integrate communication and navigation signal for LEO communication system with the least influence on the communication performance are analyzed. The analysis adopts the parameters of IRIDIUM signal as restrictions. This paper gives quantitative comparison of these methods considering CN0(carrier noise power spectral density rate) margin, pseudorange accuracy, Doppler accuracy, and communication loss. For method 1, a low-power navigation signal is added to the communication signal. For method 2, the navigation signal is launched in one or more frames. For method 3, the navigation signal is launched in the frequency band separated to the communication signal. The result shows that the pseudorange accuracy of method 2 is far below method 1 and method 3. However, the difference of Doppler accuracy among the three methods can be emitted. Detailed analysis shows that method 1 is practicable when the communication and navigation signal power rate is 15 dB. It achieves the balance of pseudorange accuracy and bit error rate (BER) performance under this condition. Comprehensive comparison of these methods is given in the last. The result shows that the CN0 margin of the navigation signal for method 3 can be 13.04 dB higher than method 1, based on the accuracy threshold considered in this paper. Methods 1 and 3 have the advantage of high accuracy and high CN0 margin respectively. However, method 3 causes high communication capacity loss. Considering that the main disadvantage of GNSS signals is low CN0, method 3 is a good choice for the LEO-augmented GNSS system. Methods 1 and 3 can be combined to realize both high accuracy and high CN0 margin if possible. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attitude Sensors)
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Open AccessArticle
Derivation of All Attitude Error Governing Equations for Attitude Filtering and Control
Sensors 2019, 19(21), 4682; https://doi.org/10.3390/s19214682 - 28 Oct 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 996
Abstract
This article presents the full analytical derivations of the attitude error kinematics equations. This is done for several attitude error representations, obtaining compact closed-forms expressions. Attitude error is defined as the rotation between true and estimated orientations. Two distinct approaches to attitude error [...] Read more.
This article presents the full analytical derivations of the attitude error kinematics equations. This is done for several attitude error representations, obtaining compact closed-forms expressions. Attitude error is defined as the rotation between true and estimated orientations. Two distinct approaches to attitude error kinematics are developed. In the first, the estimated angular velocity is defined in the true attitude axes frame, while in the second, it is defined in the estimated attitude axes frame. The first approach is of interest in simulations where the true attitude is known, while the second approach is for real estimation/control applications. Two nonlinear kinematic models are derived that are valid for arbitrarily large rotations and rotation rates. The results presented are expected to be broadly useful to nonlinear attitude estimation/control filtering formulations. A discussion of the benefits of the derived error kinematic models is included. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attitude Sensors)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
StarNAV: Autonomous Optical Navigation of a Spacecraft by the Relativistic Perturbation of Starlight
Sensors 2019, 19(19), 4064; https://doi.org/10.3390/s19194064 - 20 Sep 2019
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2123
Abstract
Future space exploration missions require increased autonomy. This is especially true for navigation, where continued reliance on Earth-based resources is often a limiting factor in mission design and selection. In response to the need for autonomous navigation, this work introduces the StarNAV framework [...] Read more.
Future space exploration missions require increased autonomy. This is especially true for navigation, where continued reliance on Earth-based resources is often a limiting factor in mission design and selection. In response to the need for autonomous navigation, this work introduces the StarNAV framework that may allow a spacecraft to autonomously navigate anywhere in the Solar System (or beyond) using only passive observations of naturally occurring starlight. Relativistic perturbations in the wavelength and direction of observed stars may be used to infer spacecraft velocity which, in turn, may be used for navigation. This work develops the mathematics governing such an approach and explores its efficacy for autonomous navigation. Measurement of stellar spectral shift due to the relativistic Doppler effect is found to be ineffective in practice. Instead, measurement of the change in inter-star angle due to stellar aberration appears to be the most promising technique for navigation by the relativistic perturbation of starlight. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attitude Sensors)
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Open AccessArticle
Plume Noise Suppression Algorithm for Missile-Borne Star Sensor Based on Star Point Shape and Angular Distance between Stars
Sensors 2019, 19(18), 3838; https://doi.org/10.3390/s19183838 - 05 Sep 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 788
Abstract
When a missile is launched, the plume generated by the propulsion system will produce a lot of fake stars in the star image, which will affect the normal work of the missile-borne star sensor. A plume noise suppression algorithm based on star point [...] Read more.
When a missile is launched, the plume generated by the propulsion system will produce a lot of fake stars in the star image, which will affect the normal work of the missile-borne star sensor. A plume noise suppression algorithm based on star point shape and angular distance between stars is proposed in this paper, which is a preprocessing algorithm for star identification. Firstly, principal component analysis is used to extract the shape features of star points. Secondly, the authenticity of star points is evaluated based on length-width ratios. Thirdly, in two consecutive frames of star images, according to the shape features of star points, the optimal matching window is determined to achieve accurate matching of the corresponding star points. Finally, the rapid elimination of fake stars is completed by the principle of invariant angular distance between true stars. Simulation experiment results show that the proposed algorithm is quite robust and fast, and the elimination ratio is high even if the number of fake stars reaches four times more than true stars. Compared with the existing star identification algorithms, when the number of fake stars is large, the advantage of the proposed algorithm is obvious. Experimentation on actual star images verifies that the proposed algorithm can meet the requirements of spacecraft even if there are a large number of fake stars in the star image. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attitude Sensors)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
A Survey of Lost-in-Space Star Identification Algorithms Since 2009
Sensors 2020, 20(9), 2579; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20092579 - 01 May 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1042
Abstract
The lost-in-space star identification algorithm is able to identify stars without a priori attitude information and is arguably the most critical component of a star sensor system. In this paper, the 2009 survey by Spratling and Mortari is extended and recent lost-in-space star [...] Read more.
The lost-in-space star identification algorithm is able to identify stars without a priori attitude information and is arguably the most critical component of a star sensor system. In this paper, the 2009 survey by Spratling and Mortari is extended and recent lost-in-space star identification algorithms are surveyed. The covered literature is a qualitative representation of the current research in the field. A taxonomy of these algorithms based on their feature extraction method is defined. Furthermore, we show that in current literature the comparison of these algorithms can produce inconsistent conclusions. In order to mitigate these inconsistencies, this paper lists the considerations related to the relative performance evaluation of these algorithms using simulation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attitude Sensors)
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Other

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Open AccessLetter
An Evaluation of Low-Cost Vision Processors for Efficient Star Identification
Sensors 2020, 20(21), 6250; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20216250 - 02 Nov 2020
Viewed by 868
Abstract
Star trackers are navigation sensors that are used for attitude determination of a satellite relative to certain stars. A star tracker is required to be accurate and also consume as little power as possible in order to be used in small satellites. While [...] Read more.
Star trackers are navigation sensors that are used for attitude determination of a satellite relative to certain stars. A star tracker is required to be accurate and also consume as little power as possible in order to be used in small satellites. While traditional approaches use lookup tables for identifying stars, the latest advances in star tracking use neural networks for automatic star identification. This manuscript evaluates two low-cost processors capable of running a star identification neural network, the Intel Movidius Myriad 2 Vision Processing Unit (VPU) and the STM32 Microcontroller. The intention of this manuscript is to compare the accuracy and power usage to evaluate the suitability of each device for use in a star tracker. The Myriad 2 VPU and the STM32 Microcontroller have been specifically chosen because of their performance on computer vision algorithms alongside being cost-effective and low power consuming devices. The experimental results showed that the Myriad 2 proved to be efficient and consumed around 1 Watt of power while maintaining 99.08% accuracy with an input including false stars. Comparatively the STM32 was able to deliver comparable accuracy (99.07%) and power measurement results. The proposed experimental setup is beneficial for small spacecraft missions that require low-cost and low power consuming star trackers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attitude Sensors)
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