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Satellite attitude determination based on GPS signal-to-noise ratio

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2 Author(s)
Axelrad, P. ; Center for Astrodynamics Res., Colorado Univ., Boulder, CO, USA ; Behre, C.P.

A method is presented for coarse attitude determination using the Global Positioning System (GPS) signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) from a single antenna mounted on a near-Earth satellite. It comprises a calibration procedure and a single-point optimal solution for the orientation of the antenna boresight vector. The calibration step creates an empirical mapping of the SNR to the angle between the antenna boresight and the GPS line-of-sight vector, based upon a ground or flight data set. The rms attitude accuracy at the level of 3°-10° is demonstrated with actual flight data from several spacecraft. Performance is shown to depend strongly on the number of GPS signals available and the quality of the calibration mapping function. The method is suitable as a backup attitude sensor for low-cost satellite and terrestrial applications, and as a coarse reference for ambiguity resolution and integrity verification of phase-based GPS attitude-determination algorithms

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Proceedings of the IEEE  (Volume:87 ,  Issue: 1 )