On September 12, 2023, Shahram Keshavarzi successfully defended his thesis on “Autonomous Optical Navigation of Interplanetary CubeSats” at K. N. Toosi University of Technology. The thesis, supervised by Dr. Mehran Mirshams and advised by Dr. Alireza Hoseini Arani, presents a general approach for optical tracking and navigation of spacecraft without access to ground-based distance measuring sources.
The thesis argues that the recent expansion of CubeSat satellites challenges the traditional paradigm of mission planning for space exploration, which relies on determining the Earth orbit to guide the spacecraft towards the mission objective. With the increase in the total number of spacecraft launches per year, ground tracking equipment is becoming saturated, and the overall cost of interplanetary CubeSats is decreasing compared to traditional spacecraft, except for navigation-related cases.
To address this issue, the thesis proposes an autonomous optical navigation method based on planet observations and optimization of Gauss-Newton for position determination. By employing this method, a spacecraft can determine its relative position independently, without the need for ground-based distance measuring sources. The navigation method presented in the thesis has the capability to be implemented in any equipped spacecraft.
The defense meeting was chaired by Dr. Alireza Basohbat Novinzadeh and Dr. AmirAli Nikkhah, both from K. N. Toosi University of Technology.
Congratulations to Shahram Keshavarzi on his successful defense! 🎉🚀