This paper describes a design effort for a prototype ultra-wideband (UWB) tracking system that is currently under development at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC). The system is being studied for use in tracking of lunar/Mars rovers during early exploration missions when satellite navigation systems are not available. The UWB technology is exploited to implement the tracking system due to its properties such as high data rate, fine time resolution, low power spectral density, and multipath immunity. A two-cluster prototype design using commercially available UWB products is proposed to implement the Angle Of Arrival (AOA) tracking methodology in this research effort. An AOA technique using the Time Difference Of Arrival (TDOA) information is utilized for location estimation in the prototype system, not only to exploit the precise time resolution possible with UWB signals, but also to eliminate the need for synchronization between the transmitter and the receiver. After the UWB radio at each cluster is used to obtain the TDOA estimates from the UWB signal sent from the target, the TDOA data is converted to AOA data to find the angle of arrival, assuming this is a far field application. Since the distance between two clusters is known, the target position is computed by a simple triangulation. Simulations show that the average tracking error at a range of 610 meters is 2.7595 meters, less than 0.5% of the tracking range. Outdoor tests to track the SCOUT vehicle (The Science Crew Operations and Utility Testbed) near the Meteor Crater, Flagstaff, Arizona were performed on September 12-13, 2005. The tracking performance was obtained with less than 1% tracking error at ranges up to 2000 feet. No RF interference with on-board GPS, video, voice and telemetry systems was detected. Outdoor tests demonstrated the UWB tracking capability.
Space Communications, Spacecraft Communications, Command and Tracking
1st International Conference on Wireless; Mar 13, 2006 - Mar 16, 2006; Sydney; Australia