Control of spacecraft formation flying around asteroids
There exist thousands of different minerals and other possible resources out in space. To exploit
these resources and to further expand our knowledge of the universe, planetary exploration has
opened new gates towards mankind. There are more than one hundred thousand designated
asteroids located inside the asteroid belt. Some of these asteroids are as old as the Big Bang itself. Tracking of astronomical bodies such as asteroids is the new stream of research that has attracted a lot of attention. However, due to environmental constraints around asteroids, monolithic spacecraft missions seem challenging. Multi-agent systems, on the other hand, provide significant advantages when it comes to orbiting around asteroids. In this study, novel consensus algorithms are applied to regulate the multi-agent decentralized formation flying for increased system flexibility and reliability. A nonlinear controller is developed to control the decentralized formation flying system of interest.
Faults are evaluated and reduced to a minimum when planning a mission. However, the performance of the controller should not be affected when faults occur. For this reason, sensor and actuator faults are examined in this thesis in conjunction with actuator limitations which is commonly referred to as saturation. The proposed control law is not only able to control the system while faults occur, but rather it is capable of maintaining system stability in the presence of time variant external disturbances. Uncertainty in parameters and dynamic models are inevitable due to the complexity of the relatively new mission and lack of experimental data about the system dynamics. As such, a novel adaptive robust control methodology is developed that does not require full knowledge of the system dynamics. Moreover, the adaptive robust control law is combined with a Chebyshev neural network to overcome system uncertainties. Numerical simulations results along with stability analyses show that the proposed control methodology is capable of reducing the system state error close to zero within 1 orbit when maximum thrust of 5 mN with bounded external disturbance of 3 mN is applied for formation reconfiguration scenarios; these results will be useful for the future formation flying missions around asteroids.