Probability and Statistics

  • James Miller
Part of the Space Technology Library book series (SPTL, volume 37)


Navigation of planetary spacecraft requires determining a nominal design trajectory that obeys the laws of physics and has a high probability of achieving mission success within the constraints of the mission objectives and the cost of the spacecraft design and mission operations. It is relatively easy to design a trajectory that satisfies all the physical laws but cannot be flown. For example, a trajectory describing the path of a coin that is tossed on the floor and rolls to a stop remaining on its edge is easy to design. However, the perturbations that the coin encounters as it rolls on the floor almost guarantees that it will not remain on its edge. Spacecraft trajectory design encounters this same problem in many forms. Statistical perturbations of the trajectory along the flight path may result in failure to meet mission objectives if not complete failure as in the case of the coin. Therefore, the trajectory designer and navigator must give as much attention to the mathematics of probability and statistics as to the laws of physics.


Maxwell-Boltzmann Theory Velocity-dependent Model Normal PDF Sigma Error Ellipses Cumulative Probability Level 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Miller
    • 1
  1. 1.Porter RanchUSA

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