Advanced navigation algorithms for precision landing



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



A detailed analysis of autonomous navigation algorithms to achieve autonomous precision landing is presented. The problem of integrated attitude determination and inertial navigation is solved. The theoretical results are applied and tested in three different applications. Optimality conditions for constrained quaternion estimation using the Kalman filter are derived. It is common in spacecraft applications to separate the attitude determination from the inertial navigation system. While this approach has worked in the past, it inevitably degrades the navigation performance when the correlations between the two systems are not correctly accounted for. It is shown how to optimally include an attitude determination algorithm into the Kalman filter. When the conditions to achieve optimality are not met, it is shown how to achieve sub-optimality by properly accounting for the correlation. The traditional approach to inertial navigation is to employ the inertial measurement unit (IMU) outputs to propagate the estimated states forward in time, rather then use them to update the state. A detailed covariance analysis of deadreckoning Mars entry navigation is performed. The contribution of various sources of IMU errors are explicitly accounted for and the filter performance is validated through Monte Carlo analysis. The drawback of dead-reckoning is that this approach prevents the inertial measurements from reducing the uncertainty of the estimated states. While this shortcoming can be compensated by the availability of other measurements, it becomes crucial when the IMU is the only sensor to provide measurements. Such a situation arises, for example, during Mars atmospheric entry. In the second application of this work, IMU measurements from a NASA mission are processed in an extended Kalman filter, and the results are compared to dead-reckoning. It is shown that is possible to reduce the uncertainty of the inertial states by filtering the IMU. The final application is lunar descent to landing navigation. In this example the IMU is filtered and the algorithms to include an attitude estimate into the Kalman filter are tested. The design performance is confirmed by Monte Carlo analysis.