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Proceedings Paper

Star trackers for spacecraft applications
Author(s): Lawrence W. Cassidy
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Paper Abstract

During the last ten years the need for a new generation of star trackers emerged as the requirements for space platform attitude control became more stringent. Star trackers of the 1970's and 1980's were typically based upon image dissector tubes or P-N junction photo—diodes and could provide accuracy near 10 arc-seconds, 1-sigma, with extensive calibration. Future NASA an4 DoD spacecraft, including Space Station "Freedom" and various SDIO surveillance spacecraft, require almost a ten-fold improvement in accuracy coupled to greater sensitivity, functional versatility, and lower power and weight. lb meet these demands, a new tracker architecture is required. The Advanced Star T1acker (ASTRA) developed by Hughes Danbury Optical Systems, Inc. (formerly Perkin-Elmer's Electro-Optics Technology Division) combines the high sensitivity and resolution inherent in a modem charge coupled device detector with the versatile processing capability of a 16-bit microprocessor to achieve a level of performance surpassing existing trackers.

In this paper, we explore star tracker error sources and the design and calibration techniques utilized in ASTRA to eliminate or minimize those errors. An error tree presents high and low special frequency centroiding error sources and their influence on the tracker's design. Requirements for thermal control of the detector and for optical calibration are discussed along with an overview of the data processing function. Finally, we present hardware test results that demonstrate a significant improvement in accuracy and sensitivity relative to existing tube-type trackers.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 September 1990
Proc. SPIE 1304, Acquisition, Tracking, and Pointing IV, (1 September 1990); doi: 10.1117/12.2322198
Show Author Affiliations
Lawrence W. Cassidy, Hughes Danbury Optical Systems, Inc. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 1304:
Acquisition, Tracking, and Pointing IV
Sankaran Gowrinathan, Editor(s)

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