Reconstruction and uncertainty quantification of entry, descent and landing trajectories using vehicle aerodynamics
Kutty, Prasad M.
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The reconstruction of entry, descent and landing (EDL) trajectories is significantly affected by the knowledge of the atmospheric conditions during flight. Away from Earth, this knowledge is generally characterized by a high degree of uncertainty, which drives the accuracy of many important atmosphere-relative states. One method of obtaining the in-flight atmospheric properties during EDL is to utilize the known vehicle aerodynamics in deriving the trajectory parameters. This is the approach taken by this research in developing a methodology for accurate estimation of ambient atmospheric conditions and atmosphere-relative states. The method, referred to as the aerodynamic database (ADB) reconstruction, performs reconstruction by leveraging data from flight measurements and pre-flight models. In addition to the estimation algorithm, an uncertainty assessment for the ADB reconstruction method is developed. This uncertainty assessment is a unique application of a fundamental analysis technique that applies linear covariance mapping to transform input variances into output uncertainties. The ADB reconstruction is applied to a previous mission in order to demonstrate its capability and accuracy. Flight data from the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) EDL, having successfully completed on August 5th 2012, is used for this purpose. Comparisons of the estimated states are made against alternate reconstruction approaches to understand the advantages and limitations of the ADB reconstruction. This thesis presents a method of reconstruction for EDL systems that can be used as a valuable tool for planetary entry analysis.