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Mars exploration rovers orbit determination system modeling

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Abstract

From June 2003 to January 2004, two spinning spacecraft journeyed from Earth to Mars. A team of navigators at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) accurately determined the orbits of both Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. For the navigation process to be successful, the team needed to know how nongravitational effects and how measurement system properties affected the trajectory and data modeling. To accomplish this, in addition to the standard gravitational and radiometric modeling of the spacecraft, a calibration was performed on each spacecraft to determine the amount of ΔV that might occur during a turn, a high-fidelity solar-radiation-pressure model was created, the spin signature was removed from the tracking data, the station locations of the Deep Space Network were resurveyed, and a model of interplanetary charged particles was developed. The result of this effort was near-perfect accuracy, surpassing the tight atmospheric-entry requirements for navigation of both spacecraft.

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Correspondence to Geoffrey Wawrzyniak.

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Wawrzyniak, G., Baird, D., Graat, E. et al. Mars exploration rovers orbit determination system modeling. J of Astronaut Sci 54, 175–197 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03256482

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Keywords

  • Very Long Baseline Interferometry
  • Orbit Determination
  • Advance Composition Explorer
  • Mars Exploration Rover
  • Deep Space Network