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Angular Position Determination of Spacecraft by Radio Interferometry

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3 Author(s)
Gabor Lanyi ; California Inst. of Technol., Pasadena ; Durgadas S. Bagri ; James S. Border

This paper describes a variety of interferometric techniques that may be used for measuring the angular location of a spacecraft with respect to natural celestial radio sources or another spacecraft. The differential propagation time-delay techniques largely cancel the common error sources and normally achieve low angular coordinate errors. Currently, the accuracy of the techniques are in the 1-2 nrad range for observations with a duration of one hour and 3-6deg of mean angular separation between the spacecraft and the reference sources at X-band frequencies. There are various possible ways to implement the differential angular measurements depending upon the determination of the phase cycle ambiguities associated with the differential propagation time delays of remote sources. There are methods that utilize a sufficiently large range of observing frequencies and others that rely upon the spatial arrangement of the receiving system and the rotation of the terrestrial platform. We summarize the methodologies and the advantages and disadvantages of the various techniques.

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Proceedings of the IEEE  (Volume:95 ,  Issue: 11 )