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Image-based spacecraft pointing model using single-bank dual-band registration

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The growing interest in the development of small satellites and the demand for high-resolution imaging has made the pointing and drift rate requirements of a satellite more stringent. To achieve high pointing accuracy, star sensors can be used, but their size and weight are too large for small satellites. The need for keeping the overall cost of the spacecraft down and still achieve adequate pointing accuracies has provoked the development of relatively inexpensive and high-performance attitude systems that can provide competitive pointing accuracies during imaging operations. In order to realize such a system, this research describes a novel approach for finding the attitude of a satellite at any arbitrary rotation by using inter-band offsets from a single multi-spectral imager (MSI). For Earth observational imagery, UK Disaster Monitoring Constellation Earth-pointing MSI is used. This research focuses on the potential use of a narrow angle between the bands of a pushbroom sensor for determining the attitude of a spacecraft. The technique investigated does not require ground control points or knowledge of any ground features, but rather estimates the orientation of the platform through analysis of perspective and timing-based distortions between images. These distortions are assumed translational and affine in nature, with two-dimensional shifts being extracted from imagery using a Singular Value Decomposition-based registration scheme. In order to better understand the effect of attitude on imagery, a model was developed for predicting inter-band shifts given an attitude. This was then used to estimate the shifts between imagery at nominal attitude and given a series of simulated manoeuvres. Several simulations have shown that the row and column offsets represented a straight line. Hence, we expressed the row and column shifts in terms of straight line parameters. These geometric attributes are then represented in terms of Euler axis/angle to find the mapping for the elements of the general rotation matrix. Once the mapping is computed for the elements of the rotation matrix, we used the standard equations to determine the angle of rotation and Euler axis. The accuracy of attitude estimates depends on the magnitude of angular separation between the cameras, orientation of spacecraft, sensor resolution, image texture, and image registration method. The technique proposed in this study may however be applied to any satellite with pushbroom sensors that have a discernable along track separation and sufficient overlap.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Computing, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, National University of Sciences and Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan 2: Surrey Space Centre, University of Surrey, Guildford, GU2 7XH, UK

Publication date: November 17, 2014

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