Design of a reduced-order spherical harmonics model of the Moon's gravitational field



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An important aspect for precision guidance, navigation, and control for lunar operations is environmental modeling. In particular, consider gravity field modeling. Available gravity field models for the Moon reach degree and order 165 requiring the use and storage of approximately 26,000 spherical harmonic coefficients. Although the high degree and order provide a means by which to accurately predict trajectories within the influence of the Moon's gravitational field, the size of these models makes using them computationally expensive and restricts their use in design environments with limited computer memory and storage. It is desirable to determine reduced complexity realizations of the gravitational models to lower the computational burden while retaining the structure of the original gravitational field for use in rapid design environments. The extended Kalman filter and the unscented Kalman filter are used to create reduced order models and are compared against a simple truncation based reduction method. Both variations of the Kalman filter out perform the truncation based method as a means by which to reduce the complexity of the gravitational field. The extended Kalman filter and unscented Kalman filter were able to achieve good estimates of position while reducing the number of spherical harmonic coefficients used in gravitational acceleration calculations by approximately 5,400, greatly increasing the speed of the calculations while reducing the required computer allocation.