Attitude Determination via GNSS Carrier Phase and Inertial Aiding

Daniel Medina, Vincenzo Centrone, Ralf Ziebold, Jesús García

Abstract: Attitude Determination (AD) constitutes an important navigation component for vehicles that require orientation information, such as spacecraft or ships. Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) enable resolving the orientation of a vehicle in a precise and absolute manner, by employing a setup of multiple GNSS antennas rigidly mounted onboard the tracked vehicle. To achieve high-precision attitude estimation based on GNSS, the use of carrier phase observations becomes indispensable, with the consequent added complexity of resolving the integer ambiguities. The use of inertial aiding has been extensively exploited for AD, since it enables tracking fast rotation variations and bridging short periods of GNSS outage. In this work, the fusion of inertial and GNSS information is exploited within the recursive Bayesian estimation framework, applying an Error State Kalman Filter (ESKF). Unlike common Kalman Filters, ESKF tracks the error or variations in the state estimate, posing meaningful advantages for AD. On the one hand, ESKF represents attitude using a minimal state representation, in form of rotation vector, avoiding attitude constraints and singularity risks on the covariance matrix estimates. On the other hand, second-order products on the derivation of the Jacobian matrices can be neglected, since the errorstate operates always close to zero. This work details the procedure of recursively estimating the attitude based on the fusion of GNSS and inertial sensing. The GNSS attitude model is parametrized in terms of quaternion rotation, and the overall three-steps AD procedure (float estimation, ambiguity resolution and solution fixing) is presented. The method performance is assessed on a Monte Carlo simulation, where different noise levels, number of satellites and baseline lengths are tested. The results show that the inertial aiding, along with a constrained attitude model for the float estimation, significantly improve the performance of attitude determination compared to classical unaided baseline tracking.
Published in: Proceedings of the 32nd International Technical Meeting of the Satellite Division of The Institute of Navigation (ION GNSS+ 2019)
September 16 - 20, 2019
Hyatt Regency Miami
Miami, Florida
Pages: 2964 - 2979
Cite this article: Medina, Daniel, Centrone, Vincenzo, Ziebold, Ralf, García, Jesús, "Attitude Determination via GNSS Carrier Phase and Inertial Aiding," Proceedings of the 32nd International Technical Meeting of the Satellite Division of The Institute of Navigation (ION GNSS+ 2019), Miami, Florida, September 2019, pp. 2964-2979.
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