Compass Star Tracker for GPS-Like Applications
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Star trackers are the most accurate attitude sensors to perform 3-axis attitude estimation of spacecraft. However, even though they are specifically designed to estimate attitude, they can also be used to estimate the local coordinates of the camera on the Earth as well as the direction of East. This requires us to align the camera optical axis with the local direction of the gravity and to have knowledge of the time, that can be provided by an accurate clock. The resulting system is the Compass Star Tracker (CST), that is, a star tracker used as a global surface navigation system. This system would certainly not substitute the Global Positioning System which, in turn, does not suffer of the limitation night-only operation and in clear weather conditions. On the contrary, the CST does not require any satellite information or other support from ground stations to be used in lieu of the traditional Global Positioning System. 2008 IEEE.