The Journal of the Astronautical Sciences

, Volume 56, Issue 4, pp 477–494 | Cite as

The precise autonomous orbit keeping experiment on the PRISMA mission

  • Sergio De Florio
  • Simone D’Amico


This paper analyzes the problem of autonomous control of the longitude of the ascending node (LAN) for a satellite in low Earth orbit (LEO) by means of along-track and anti-alongtrack velocity increments which adjust the semimajor axis. The problems related to the possibility of generating the reference orbit (RO) on-board and with the estimation of the atmospheric drag are considered. The Autonomous Orbit Keeping (AOK) experiment of the PRISMA formation flying mission will be the test platform of the control strategy here exposed. The AOK on-board software shall demonstrate autonomous orbit control using a guidance law for the orbit’s LAN and shall implement a deterministic control algorithm using along-track and anti-along-track velocity increments. Using GPS-based absolute navigation data, AOK shall command thruster activations in the orbital frame to autonomously control the orbit within a predefined window. The AOK experiment paves the way to the accurate and autonomous orbit control of LEO satellites on a routine basis. The main requirement of the experiment is to demonstrate an orbit control accuracy of the osculating ascending node of 10 m (1σ). The paper shows results from real-world software simulations where the accuracy of the reference orbit is limited and GPS sensors and hydrazine actuators are accurately modeled. The fundamental approach on which the software design, validation and testing is based, is also explained.


Semimajor Axis Solar Radiation Pressure Reference Orbit Velocity Increment Gravity Field Model 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© American Astronautical Society, Inc. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sergio De Florio
    • 1
  • Simone D’Amico
    • 1
  1. 1.Space Flight Technology DepartmentGerman Aerospace Center (DLR)WesslingGermany

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