Active attitude control detection of a noncooperative space body Conference Paper uri icon


  • © 2018, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, AIAA. All rights reserved. The space environment is increasingly cluttered with old satellites and orbital debris. These objects may remain on-orbit for years, and often possess sensors suitable for observing ground or space targets. A satellite operator might wish to use these objects for covert surveillance, using minimal attitude control to avoid detection. An approach is needed to discriminate bodies undergoing active control from uncontrolled ones. In this paper, a candidate method based on a statistical test is proposed. Detection of active control using exteroceptive sensors are considered, using simplified nonlinear estimation to validate the concept. Examples are presented for both simulated results and hardware experiments. Furthermore, the inverse problem is considered, in which a parameterized target motion is used to derive the sensor variance required to discriminate the motion from passive tumbling. The solution is an upper bound on the sensor’s variance. Examples are considered for periodic changes in the target attitude, and for impulsive changes in the target’s spin axis.

author list (cited authors)

  • Woodbury, T. D., & Hurtado, J. E.

citation count

  • 2

publication date

  • January 2018