Autonomous Solar Navigation System
A method and apparatus for autonomous navigation for deep space missions using the sun as the reference body and determining the spacecraft orbit based on observations made on the sun using onboard instruments. Two types of observation data, the direction of the spacecraft relative to the sun as a function of time and the optical Doppler shift due to the motion of the spacecraft relative to the sun, can be used for the spacecraft orbit determination. A dual imaging system which functions as a sun imager taking images of the sun against star backgrounds during the cruise phase and as a regular optical imager taking pictures of the targeting planetary body during the approaching phase is also described.
Patent Status: U.S. patent(s) 6,622,970 issued.CONTACT:
Mr. J. E. Dietz
Phone: (443) 778-2782