Navigation & Control
Since the satellites in a Distributed Space System serve a common goal, the proper understanding and measurement of their relative motion, also called navigation, is crucial to the success of the system. Both analytical and numerical methods are applied to model the relative motion, often requiring complex tools to achieve the high accuracy needs of contemporary and future missions. This is, however, not enough. Since natural and man-made perturbations affect relative orbits, the relative separation of the satellites needs to be controlled. Advanced control algorithms along with highly precise actuators, such as propulsion systems, are required for this purpose. The success of such Distributed Space Missions can only be achieved when the know-how on navigation and control is combined in a multi-disciplinary approach with engineering expertise on architecture and technology.
At Space Systems Engineering, we are researching challenging and complex problems of navigation and control of Distributed Space Systems. Examples of research done are: “How to do safe and economic guidance and control of collocated geostationary satellites based on convex optimization?”, “What are the characteristics of the feedback control scheme for spacecraft docking?”, and “How can the dynamic coupling between orbit and attitude of satellites in a formation at very low altitudes be used to improve the relative navigation knowledge?”.