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Operational Experience with Autonomous Star Trackers on ESA Interplanetary SpacecraftMars Express (MEX), Rosetta and Venus Express (VEX) are ESA interplanetary spacecrafts (S/C) launched in June 2003, March 2004 and November 2005, respectively. Mars Express was injected into Mars orbit end of 2003 with routine operations starting in spring 2004. Rosetta is since launch on its way to rendezvous comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014. It has completed several test and commissioning activities and is performing several planetary swingbys (Earth in spring 2005, Mars in spring 2007, Earth in autumn 2007 and again two years later). Venus Express has also started routine operations since the completion of the Venus orbit insertion maneuver sequence beginning of May 2006. All three S/C are three axes stabilized with a similar attitude and orbit control system (AOCS). The attitude is estimated on board using star and rate sensors and controlled using four reaction wheels. A bipropellant reaction control system with 10N thrusters serves for wheel off loadings and attitude control in safe mode. Mars Express and Venus Express have an additional 400N engine for the planetary orbit insertion. Nominal Earth communication is accomplished through a high gain antenna. All three S/C are equipped with a redundant set of autonomous star trackers (STR) which are based on almost the same hardware. The STR software is especially adapted for the respective mission. This paper addresses several topics related to the experience gained with the STR operations on board the three S/C so far.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Lauer, Mathias
(European Space Agency. European Space Operations Center Darmstadt, Germany)
Jauregui, Libe
(European Space Agency. European Space Operations Center Darmstadt, Germany)
Kielbassa, Sabine
(European Space Agency. European Space Operations Center Darmstadt, Germany)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
September 24, 2007
Publication Information
Publication: Proceedings of the 20th International Symposium on Space Flight Dynamics
Subject Category
Spacecraft Design, Testing And Performance
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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