Title: Prospects of multiple global navigation satellite system tracking for formation flying in highly elliptical earth orbits

Authors: Erin Kahr

Addresses: Department of Geomatics Engineering, Schulich School of Engineering, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, T2N 1N4, Canada

Abstract: Two formation flying missions are currently planned for highly elliptical orbit, NASA's Magnetosphere Multi Scale Mission and ESA's PROBA-3; however, neither of these missions will take advantage of the new positioning opportunities offered by multi-constellation GNSS and their modernised signal structures. This paper investigates the potential benefits through a detailed visibility simulation which includes GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, BeiDou, QZSS, WAAS, EGNOS, GAGAN, SDCM and MSAS. Results based on the PROBA-3 orbit demonstrate that the GNSS signals are marginally detectable by a standard GNSS receiver, and therefore the output of any visibility simulation is highly dependent on the input simulation parameters. Because small changes to the mission and receiver or unexpected GNSS signal levels can significantly impact the visibility, investing in weak tracking and multi-constellation GNSS is particularly advantageous to mitigate the impact of uncertainty in the HEO environment. Under the right conditions, regional systems are shown to be particularly advantageous.

Keywords: global navigation satellite systems; multi-constellation GNSS; weak tracking; Galileo; GLONASS; BeiDou; Quazi-Zenith Satellite System; QZSS; formation flying; Project for Onboard Autonomy 3; PROBA-3; highly elliptical orbits; HEO; satellite-based augmentation systems; SBAS; GPS; global navigation satellites; elliptical earth orbits; visibility simulation; uncertainty; regional systems.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSPACESE.2013.059267

International Journal of Space Science and Engineering, 2013 Vol.1 No.4, pp.432 - 447

Received: 11 Jul 2013
Accepted: 06 Sep 2013

Published online: 16 Feb 2014 *

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