Sriramya Bhamidipati, Tara Mina and Grace Gao, Stanford University

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Abstract:

Recently, there has been a growing interest in the use of a SmallSat platform for the future Lunar Navigation Satellite System (LNSS) to allow for cost-effectiveness and rapid deployment. However, many design choices are yet to be finalized for the SmallSat-based LNSS, including the onboard clock and the orbit type. As compared to the legacy Earth-GPS, designing an LNSS poses unique challenges: (a) restricted Size, Weight, and Power (SWaP) of the onboard clock, which limits the timing stability; (b) limited lunar ground monitoring stations, which engenders a greater preference toward stable LNSS satellite orbits. In this current work, we analyze the trade-off between different design considerations related to the onboard clock and the lunar orbit type for designing an LNSS with time-transfer from Earth-GPS. Our proposed time-transfer architecture combines the intermittently available Earth-GPS signals in a timing filter to alleviate the cost and SWaP requirements of the onboard clocks. Specifically, we conduct multiple case studies with different grades of low-SWaP clocks and various previously studied lunar orbit types. For each case study, we assess the lunar User Equivalent Range Error (UERE), which characterizes the ranging accuracy of signals transmitted from an LNSS satellite. Using the Systems Tool Kit (STK)-based simulation setup from Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI), we evaluate the lunar UERE across various case studies of the LNSS design to demonstrate comparable performance as that of the legacy Earth-GPS, even while using a low-SWaP onboard clock. We further perform sensitivity analysis to investigate the variation in the lunar UERE metric across different case studies as the Earth-GPS measurement update rates are varied.