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Center Independent Research & Development: GSFC IRAD

Precision Formation Alignment Navigation System (pFANtASY)

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

The Precision Formation Alignment Navigation System, or pFANtASY, is an integrated guidance and navigation subsystem for the acquisition and fine alignment of a dual spacecraft distributed science instrument mission. pFANtASY will acquire another spacecraft at up to 100m distance at 18 m down to 5-micron accuracy. This is achieved by a staggered set of instruments used for sensing illuminated spots on the target spacecraft. Initial acquisition is achieved with a camera-based acquisition mode that senses a set of illuminated beacons to 18m to 1 cm accuracy. Then a precise centration system comprised of a laser optic and quad-cell detector to sense relative position from 2 cm down to 20 micron accuracy. These sensor signals are ingested into navigation software to eliminate noise and produce the <5micron 3-sigma accuracy required. The components currently selected take an estimated 3 kg mass, 10 W power, and 4U volume but can be scaled to meet the needs of larger spacecraft.

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