Real-Time Navigation for Swarms of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Satellites

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Sähkötekniikan korkeakoulu | Master's thesis
Small Satellites and Space Instrumentations
Degree programme
Erasmus Mundus Space Master
The pursuit of precision and flexibility in satellite missions has led to an increased number of formation flying missions being developed. These systems consist of multiple satellites flying at close distances (from a few kilometres to a few meters) to achieve common objectives. This master thesis delves into the domain of the Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC) for formation flying satellite systems, aiming to propose a novel architecture of different sets of sensors capable of determining absolute and relative positioning of the formation, ensuring mission success. This research begins by providing an overall status of existing and tested in-space systems. It will be complemented with novel and other systems already tested and promising new technologies in development. The thesis then delves into the design of an absolute and a relative Extended Kalman Filter (EKF) for distributed Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) systems implemented as part of an in-house simulator. Concluding with the results when using simulated Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) data as the filter input. Finally, the thesis will be completed with a trade-off analysis of the sensor systems, which could be used in formation-flying satellite systems in the near future. The outcome of this thesis is a novel proposal of a set of sensors to be brought to space navigation, with a corresponding detailed trade-off analysis. Additionally, to validate some of the sensor systems, an EKF is proposed, implemented and tested with the results from an in-house formation flying simulator. This master thesis report is the outcome of the work done during an internship at the Microwave and Radar Institute of the Deutsche Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. (DLR) – German Aerospace Center – in Oberpfaffenhofen, Bavaria, Germany.
Praks, Jaan
Thesis advisor
Toliou, Athanasia
Rodrigues Silva Filho, Eduardo
SAR, Real-time orbit determination, Real-time baseline determination, Swarms, Satellite, Formation Flying
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