Date of Award:

12-2019

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Advisor/Chair:

David K. Geller

Co-Advisor/Chair:

Stephen A. Whitmore

Third Advisor:

Charles M. Swenson

Abstract

Spacecraft navigation is a critical component of any space mission. Space navigation uses on-board sensors and other techniques to determine the spacecraft’s current position and velocity, with permissible accuracy. It also provides requisite information to navigate to a desired position, while following the desired trajectory. Developments in technology have resulted in new techniques of space navigation. However, inertial navigation systems have consistently been the bedrock for space navigation.

Recently, the successful space mission GOCE used on-board gravity gradiometer for mapping Earth’s gravitational field. This has motivated the development of new techniques like cold atom accelerometers, to create ultra-sensitive gravity gradiometers, specifically suited for space applications, including autonomous orbital navigation.

This research aims to highlight the existing developments in the field of gravity gradiometry and its potential space navigation applications. The study aims to use the Linear Covariance Theory to determine specific sensor requirements to enable autonomous space navigation for different flight regimes.

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