Recursive range estimation using astrophysical signals of opportunity

Joel T. Runnels, Demoz Gebre-Egziabher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


An estimator for determining the range of a space vehicle relative to some origin by using astrophysical signals of opportunity is developed. The signals used are x-ray photons emitted by pulsars. The estimator is an extended Kalman filter, which estimates the time difference of arrival of x-ray photons at the space vehicle and the origin. The performance of the estimator is validated by Monte Carlo simulations and postprocessing x-ray data from the NASA/Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Suzaku mission. It is found that the proposed algorithm performance is comparable (as measured by estimation error covariance) to the maximum-likelihood estimator used on this problem, which has been successfully used on a similar x-ray pulsar navigation problem in the past.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2201-2213
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research has made use of data obtained through the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center Online Service, provided by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. This research has made use of data obtained from the Suzaku satellite, a collaborative mission between the space agencies of Japan (JAXA) and the United States (NASA). The authors gratefully acknowledge JAXA/NASA for the data. The authors also acknowledge the NASA/ Minnesota Space Grant Consortium and the U.S. Air Force Research Lab University Nanosat Program for providing funding to support this work. The authors also acknowledge the contributions of Lindsay Glesener in her assistance with obtaining and analyzing x-ray data and assessing the level of background noise to use in the simulation studies. Although the authors gratefully acknowledge the aforementioned individuals and organizations, the views and conclusions expressed in this paper are those of the authors alone and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of any organization.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2017 by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc. All rights reserved.


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