Analysis and demonstration: A proof-of-concept compass star tracker Conference Paper uri icon


  • Star sensors are typically used as attitude determination instruments on spacecraft orbiting Earth. In this capacity, the star sensor determines the orientation of the spacecraft using digital images of the stars. The following research utilizes the basic functionality of the star sensor in a new way; the orientation information from the star image is used to determine a user's latitude and longitude coordinates on Earth. The local position determination concept is valuable because it allows users to determine their position autonomously. This research analyzes and demonstrates the local position determination problem on Earth using a novel instrument, the Compass Star Tracker. Special focus is given to the theoretical development of the mathematics of local position determination, the design and fabrication of a proof-of-concepr, instrument, an error source analysis, and the experimental tests used to validate the position determination concepts. This work is intended as the first of many steps toward eventual deployment of autonomous position determination sensors on the Moon and Mars.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Swanzy, M. J., Mortari, D., Hurtado, J. E., & Junkins, J. L.

complete list of authors

  • Swanzy, Michael J||Mortari, Daniele||Hurtado, John E||Junkins, John L

publication date

  • December 2006