Huygens probe entry, descent, and landing trajectory reconstruction using the Program to Optimize Simulated Trajectories II
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The objectives of this research were to develop a reconstruction capability using the Program to Optimize Simulated Trajectories II (POST2), apply this capability to reconstruct the Huygens Titan probe entry, descent, and landing (EDL) trajectory, evaluate the newly developed POST2 reconstruction module, analyze the reconstructed trajectory, and assess the pre-flight simulation models used for Huygens EDL simulation. An extended Kalman filter (EKF) module was developed and integrated into POST2 to enable trajectory reconstruction (especially when using POST2-based mission specific simulations). Several validation cases, ranging from a single, constant parameter estimate to multivariable estimation cases similar to an actual mission flight, were executed to test the POST2 reconstruction module. Trajectory reconstruction of the Huygens entry probe at Titan was accomplished using accelerometer measurements taken during flight to adjust an estimated state (e.g., position, velocity, parachute drag, wind velocity, etc.) in a POST2-based simulation developed to support EDL analyses and design prior to entry. Although the main emphasis of the trajectory reconstruction was to evaluate models used in the NASA pre-entry trajectory simulation, the resulting reconstructed trajectory was also assessed to provide an independent evaluation of the ESA result. Major findings from this analysis include: Altitude profiles from this analysis agree well with other NASA and ESA results but not with Radar data, whereas a scale factor of about 0.93 would bring the radar measurements into compliance with these results; entry capsule aerodynamics predictions (axial component only) were well within 3-[sigma] bounds established pre-flight for most of the entry when compared to reconstructed values; Main parachute drag of 9% to 19% above ESA model was determined from the reconstructed trajectory; based on the tilt sensor and accelerometer data, the conclusion from this assessment was that the probe was tilted about 10 degrees during the Drogue parachute phase.