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Systematic performance-oriented guidance tuning for descent & landing on small planetary bodies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-54
Number of pages11
JournalActa Astronautica
Early online date19 Jul 2018
DateAccepted/In press - 14 Jul 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jul 2018
DatePublished (current) - 1 May 2019


Descent & landing (D&L) on small planetary bodies are scientifically rewarding exploration missions but they are technically challenging due to the complex and poorly-known environment around those bodies. The standard guidance synthesis approach considers nominal conditions and applies optimal control theory to obtain guidance law gains, followed by intensive verification and validation. In this article, it is shown that the standard approach may yield gains that are not optimal once dispersions (and/or other optimality metrics) are taken into account and a tuning approach is then proposed based on a priori methodological system assessment. The proposed approach employs systematic high-fidelity simulations to generate trade-off maps. These maps can be generated by on ground operators based on the best estimated conditions and uploaded to the spacecraft as it approaches the target. The proposed systematic guidance tuning and resulting maps also provide a valuable understanding of the system dynamics towards the application of other industry-oriented tools such as structured Η optimisation. It is shown that the proposed tuning enables propellant consumption reductions of around 40% compared to state-of-practice gain selections.

    Research areas

  • Descent & landing, Optimal guidance, Structured H-infinity synthesis, control



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    Rights statement: This is the author accepted manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Elsevier at . Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Accepted author manuscript, 4 MB, PDF document

    Licence: CC BY-NC-ND


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