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Guidance, Navigation, and Control

Description:

ScopeTitle:

Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GNC)Sensors and Actuators

ScopeDescription:

NASAseeks innovative, groundbreaking, and high-impact developments inspacecraft GNC technologies in support of future science andexploration mission requirements. This subtopic covers mission-enablingtechnologies that have significant SWaP-CP improvements overthe state-of-the-art COTS capabilities in the areas of (1)spacecraft attitude determination and control systems, (2) absolute andrelative navigation systems, (3) pointing control systems, and (4)radiation-hardened GNC hardware.

Component technology developments aresought for the range of flight sensors and actuators required to providethese improved capabilities. Technologies that apply to most spacecraftplatform sizes will be considered.

Advances in the following areas aresought:

  1. Spacecraft attitude determinationand control systems: Sensors and actuators that enable<0.1-arcsec-level pointing knowledge and arcsecond-level controlcapabilities for large space telescopes, with improvements in SWaPrequirements.
  2. Absolute and relative navigationsystems: Autonomous onboard flight navigation sensors incorporating bothspaceborne and ground-based absolute and relative measurements. Specialconsiderations will be given to relative navigation sensors enablingprecision formation flying, astrometric alignment of a formation ofvehicles, and other GNC technologies for enabling thecollection of distributed science measurements. In addition, flightsensors that support onboard terrain-relative navigation for landing andsample return capabilities are of interest.
  3. Pointing control systems: Mechanismsthat enable milliarcsecond-class pointing performance on any spacebornepointing platforms. Active and passive vibration isolation systems,innovative actuation feedback, or any such technology that can be usedto enable other areas within this subtopic applies.
  4. Radiation-hardened GNC hardware: GNCsensors that could operate in a high-radiation environment, such as theJovian environment.

 

Proposals should show an understandingof one or more relevant science or exploration needs and present afeasible plan to fully develop a technology and infuse it into a NASAprogram.

This subtopic is for allmission-enabling GNC technology in support of SMD missions andfuture mission concepts. Proposals for the development of hardware andsupporting software is preferred. The specific applications could rangefrom CubeSats/SmallSats, to International Space Station (ISS) payloads,to flagship missions. For proposals featuring technologiesintended for use in planetary science applications, this year apreference will be given to those proposals that would benefitradiation-hard electronics needed for in situ studies of icy oceanworlds. 

Expected TRL or TRL Range at completion of theProject: 4 to 6

Primary TechnologyTaxonomy:

  • Level 1 17Guidance, Navigation, and Control(GN&C)
  • Level 2 17.X OtherGuidance, Navigation, and Control

Desired Deliverablesof Phase I and PhaseII:

  • Prototype
  • Hardware
  • Software

DesiredDeliverables Description:

Prototypehardware/software, documented evidence of delivered TRL (test report,data, etc.), summary analysis, supporting documentation:

  • Phase I research should be conducted to demonstrate technicalfeasibility as well as show a plan towards Phase II integration andcomponent/prototype testing in a relevant environment as described in afinal report.
  • Phase II technology development efforts shall delivera component/prototype at the NASA SBIR/STTR TRL 5 to 6 level.Delivery of final documentation, test plans, and test results arerequired. Delivery of a hardware component/prototype under the Phase IIcontract is preferred.

 

State of the Art and CriticalGaps:

Capability area gaps:

  • Spacecraft GNC sensors—highly integrated, low-power,low-weight, and radiation-hard component sensortechnologies and multifunctional components.
  • Spacecraft GNC attitude estimation and controlalgorithms—sensor fusion, autonomous proximity operationsalgorithm, robust distributed vehicle formation sensing, and controlalgorithms.

Relevance / ScienceTraceability:

Mission capabilityrequirements in the SMD programareas of Heliophysics, Earth Science, Astrophysics,and Planetary Science:

  • Spacecraft GNC sensors—optical, radio-frequency (RF),inertial, and advanced concepts for onboard sensing of spacecraftattitude and orbit states.
  • Spacecraft GNC estimation and controlalgorithms—innovative concepts for onboard algorithms forattitude/orbit determination and control for single spacecraft,spacecraft rendezvous and docking, and spacecraft formations.

 

The relevant technology taxonomy items include:

  • TX04.1.1 Sensing for Robotic Systems
  • TX04.1.4 Object, Event, and Activity Recognition
  • TX04.5.1 Relative Navigation Sensors
  • TX04.5.4 Capture Sensors
  • TX05.1.4 Pointing, Acquisition, and Tracking (PAT)
  • TX05.1.6 Optimetrics
  • TX05.1.7 Innovative Signal Modulations
  • TX05.4.1 Timekeeping and Time Distribution
  • TX05.4.2 Revolutionary Position, Navigation, and TimingTechnologies
  • TX05.5.3 Hybrid Radio and Optical Technologies
  • TX05.X   Other Communications, Navigation, andOrbital Debris Tracking and Characterization Systems
  • TX09.4.7 Guidance, Navigation and Control (GN&C) forEDL
  • TX17.1.1 Guidance Algorithms
  • TX17.1.2 Targeting Algorithms
  • TX17.2.3 Navigation Sensors
  • TX17.2.4 Relative Navigation Aids
  • TX17.2.5 Rendezvous, Proximity Operations, and Capture SensorProcessing and Processors
  • TX17.3.1 Onboard Maneuvering/ Pointing/ Stabilization/FlightControl Algorithms
  • TX17.3.1 Onboard Maneuvering/Pointing/Stabilization/ FlightControl Algorithms
  • TX17.3.3 Ground-based Maneuvering/ Pointing/ Stabilization/FlightControl Algorithms
  • TX17.3.4 Control Force/ Torque Actuators
  • TX17.3.5 GN&C actuators for 6DOF Spacecraft ControlDuring Rendezvous, Proximity Operations, and Capture
  • TX17.4.1 Onboard Attitude/ Attitude Rate EstimationAlgorithms
  • TX17.4.1 Onboard Attitude/Attitude Rate EstimationAlgorithms
  • TX17.4.2 Ground- Based Attitude Determination/ ReconstructionAlgorithm Development
  • TX17.4.3 Attitude Estimation Sensors
  • TX17.5.2 GN&C Fault Management/FaultTolerance/Autonomy
  • TX17.5.3 GN&C Verification and Validation Tools andTechniques
  • TX17.5.9 Onboard and Ground-Based Terrain and Object Simulation,Mapping, and Modeling Software
  • TX17.X   Other Guidance, Navigation, andControl

 

Consequently, improvements supporting this GNC subtopic havebroader impacts, increasing the return on investment for this individualtopic.

References:

  • 2020 NASA Technology Taxonomy: https://go.nasa.gov/3hGhFJf
  • 2017 NASA Strategic Technology Investment Plan: https://www.nasa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/2017-8-1_stip_final-508ed.pdf

ScopeTitle:

Star-Tracker Technologies forCubeSats

ScopeDescription:

CubeSatsare increasingly being used to perform remote sensing of theEarth’s atmosphere and surface. However, their mass, size, andpower limitations often prohibit the use of spinning or scanningantennas, especially if such antennas are large relative to the size ofthe spacecraft (e.g., deployable antennas). A solution is to spin thespacecraft itself; however, spacecraft attitude control and Earth-basedgeolocation of measurements in this situation requires the use of anonboard star tracker that itself spins or otherwise maintains aconsistent frame of reference or can process star observations quicklyenough to update attitude information about the spinning CubeSat. Thus,star trackers capable of providing accurate attitude information to arapidly spinning CubeSat would significantly benefit future NASA EarthScience CubeSat missions.

The scope of this subtopic is thedevelopment of a CubeSat-ready star tracker that can provide accurateattitude information to a rapidly spinning CubeSat hosting anEarth-observing instrument. A CubeSat-ready star tracker that itselfspins or maintains a consistent frame of reference while its hostCubeSat spins, or one that can process observationssignificantly faster than the current state of the art (SOA), is acritical enabling technology for CubeSat-based Earth observations thatnormally would require a spinning antenna (e.g., ocean winds).

Expected TRL or TRL Range at completion of theProject: 2 to 6

Primary TechnologyTaxonomy:

  • Level 1 17Guidance, Navigation, and Control(GN&C)
  • Level 2 17.4 AttitudeEstimation Technologies

Desired Deliverablesof Phase I and PhaseII:

  • Prototype
  • Hardware

DesiredDeliverables Description:

Prototypehardware/software, documented evidence of delivered TRL (test report,data, etc.), summary analysis, and supporting documentation:

  • Phase I research should be conducted to demonstrate technicalfeasibility as well as show a plan towards Phase II integration andcomponent/prototype testing in a relevant environment as described in afinal report.
  • Phase II technology development efforts shall delivera component/prototype at the NASA SBIR/STTR TRL 5 to 6 level.Delivery of final documentation, test plans, and test results arerequired. Delivery of a laboratory-tested to space-qualified hardwareprototype of a star tracker capable of providing accurate attitudeinformation to a rapidly spinning CubeSat (~tens of revolutionsper minute) under the Phase II contract is preferred.

 

State of the Art and CriticalGaps:

Current CubeSat-ready star trackers canprovide ~0.002° pointing information accuracy with low SWaP.However, that performance assumes relatively stable attitude control(i.e., a nonrapidly spinning CubeSat). Thus, a CubeSat-ready startracker that itself spins, or maintains a consistent frame of referencewhile its host CubeSat spins, or can process observations significantlyfaster than the current SOA, is a critical enabling technology forCubeSat-based Earth observations that normally would require a spinningantenna (e.g., ocean winds).

Relevance / ScienceTraceability:

Requirement: The star trackershould have the ability to provide 0.05° or betterpointing angle accuracy (in roll, pitch, and yaw) while the CubeSat isspinning up to 20 rpm in low Earth orbit (300 to 1,000 kmaltitude).

Relevant CubeSats are anticipated to be oriented such that theEarth-observing antenna is pointing off-nadir by up to 40° to50°. This provides a sufficient Earth-incidence angle to enableretrieval of ocean surface winds and other horizontally resolvedatmospheric measurables (e.g., precipitation). For this scienceapplication, the star tracker is providing ~1-km geolocation accuracyfor such measurements.


SWaP should be comparable to existing star trackers (~0.2U, ~0.25 kg, ~1W).

References:

  • Erlank, A.O. and  Steyn,W.H.: "Arcminute attitude estimation for CubeSats witha novel nano star tracker," IFAC ProceedingsVolumes, 47(3), pp.9679-9684, 2014;  https://doi.org/10.3182/20140824-6-ZA-1003.00267  
  • McBryde, C.R. and Lightsey, E.G.: "A startracker design for CubeSats," 2012 IEEE Aerospace Conference,pp. 1-14, 2012, doi: 10.1109/AERO.2012.6187242.
  • Walton, M.P. and Long, D.G.:"Architectures for Earth-observing CubeSatscatterometers," CubeSats and NanoSats forRemote Sensing II, Vol. 10769, 1076904, International Societyfor Optics and Photonics, 2018; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2321696
  • Walton, P. and Long, D.: "Space of solutions to oceansurface wind measurement using scatterometer constellations,"Journal of Applied Remote Sensing, 13(3), 032506, 2019;  https://doi.org/10.1117/1.JRS.13.032506

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