AAS 99-196

A Method for the Identification of a Tethered Satellite

D.A. Cicci, A. Lovell, C. Qualls

Auburn U., Auburn, AL


The motion of a tethered satellite is affected by a force exerted on the satellite through the tether, which causes the satellite to experience modified Keplerian motion. Due to this modified behavior, the use of current tracking methods could make it difficult, if not impossible, to identify a satellite as being tethered. The state of a tethered satellite may be estimated by a batch filter which has the ability to account for the possible existence of a tether. The filter which is considered in this paper includes the satellite's position and velocity vectors, along with acceleration components in the normal and tangential direction. By estimating and evaluating the magnitudes of these acceleration components, the effective force within the tether can be determined. If the tether force is calculated to be non-zero, it can be concluded that the satellite is tethered. Once this determination is made the satellite's trajectory can be determined.