Spacecraft Precision Entry Navigation using an Adaptive Sigma Point Kalman Filter Bank


Dr. Martin Heyne


This lecture describes the development of a sigma point Kalman filter for the purpose of precision spacecraft navigation during the atmospheric entry, descent and landing phase. The use of the sigma point Kalman filter is driven by the desire to avoid complex partial derivatives associated with the standard extended Kalman filter. This strategy increases the likelihood that the navigation algorithm will be compatible with the Electra programmable radio, a flight hardware communication node available on spacecraft build for Mars exploration.
Using Mars Exploration Rover Spirit (MER-A) data, experiments were conducted to validate the proposed navigation concept. Beginning at atmospheric entry interface, the hypersonic entry phase is considered and the navigation architecture performance is quantified. Using the sigma point Kalman filter as the main computational unit, a filter bank for environmental parameter identification is investigated. The focus of this investigation is atmospheric parameter identification. The MER-A mission is used to verify the ability of the filter bank to make appropriate selections.
The issues relating to the implementation of this navigation architecture on the Electra programmable radio are then discussed. It is shown that the sigma point Kalman filter structure is very applicable to the atmospheric entry navigation problem. When used in conjunction with the filter bank concept, the overall navigation architecture is shown to be able to improve navigation accuracy over standard dead-reckoning, while providing robustness to uncertainties during entry. The navigation algorithm is successfully hosted on the Electra programmable radio and is capable of processing actual MER inertial measurement data.

Dr. Martin C. Heyne received his Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Previously he performed engineering research at the University of Stuttgart, Germany at the institute of flight mechanics regarding missile guidance and control. Dr. Martin C. Heyne worked at NASA duration human exploration missions. During his time at the University of Texas at Austin he worked on navigation and estimation problems with Dr. Robert H. Bishop. Dr. Heyne focused his research on the navigation task and the computational implementation of navigation algorithms.
Dr. Heyne participated in a high-tech start-up working on wireless sensor networks and is founding member of the Space Authority of Texas. He is senior member of AIAA and member of IEEE and ION (Institute of Navigation).