Jeffrey L. Small, Laurie M. Mann, Juan M. Crenshaw, Cheryl J. Gramling, Jose J. Rosales, Luke B. Winternitz, Munther A. Hassouneh, Dahlia A. Baker, Sun Hur-Diaz, Andrew J. Liounis, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

View Abstract Sign in for premium content


A system of Lunar relay satellites has been proposed to address communication and navigation needs and ensure robustness for the variety of upcoming robotic and human exploration missions to the Moon. The relays are envisioned to estimate self-position and time knowledge onboard, allowing the system to provide in-situ navigation services to missions in the Lunar and cis-Lunar environment. The quality and accuracy of those services are highly dependent on the navigation performance of the relay itself. To assess the Lunar relay navigation performance, a series of orbit determination (OD) Monte Carlo (MC) simulations are run using Lunar gravity modeling up to a degree and order of 250 and a variety of onboard clocks and measurement types including weak-signal GNSS, Ground Network (GN) pseudorange (PR) and Doppler, and optical navigation (OpNav) center-finding (CF). The estimated trajectories produced by these Lunar relay MC simulations, along with the associated errors, and transmitted navigation reference signal parameters, are used to evaluate the expected navigation performance of a user on a descent trajectory to the Lunar surface. The scenario features a lander system performing onboard navigation relying on one-way range and Doppler measurements from reference signals emitted by the Lunar relay. This paper can be used as a reference in determining the onboard clock and measurement types necessary to obtain acceptable navigation performance for the Lunar relay, and as a baseline for Lunar lander navigation performance using accurate measurements from a relay reference signal.