Unscented Kalman Filter for Determination of Spacecraft Attitude Using Different Attitude Parameterizations and Real Data


  • Roberta Veloso Garcia São Paulo University, Lorena School of Engineering
  • Hélio Koiti Kuga National Institute for Space Research (INPE)
  • Maria Cecília F. P. S. Zanardi Federal University of ABC


Attitude estimation, Real data, Unscented Kalman Filter, Extended Kalman Filter, Quaternion, Euler angles


The non-linear estimators are certainly the most important algorithms applied to real problems, especially those involving the attitude estimation of spacecraft. The purpose of this paper was to use real data of sensors to analyze the behavior of Unscented Kalman Filter in attitude estimation problems when it is represented in different ways and compare it with the standard estimator for non-linear estimation problems. The robustness of the estimation was performed when this was subjected to imprecise initial conditions. The attitude parametrization was described in Euler angles, quaternion and quaternion incremental. The satellite China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite and measurements provided by the Satellite Control Center of the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais were considered in the study. The results indicate that the behaviors for both estimators were equivalent for such parameterizations under the same conditions. However, comparing the Unscented Kalman Filter (UKF) with the standard filter for non-linear systems, Extended Kalman Filter (EKF), it was observed that, in the presence of inaccurate initial conditions, the Unscented Kalman Filter presented a fast convergence whereas Extended Kalman Filter had problems and only converged later on.

Author Biographies

Roberta Veloso Garcia, São Paulo University, Lorena School of Engineering

department: Department of Environmental Sciences

rank: Professor

Hélio Koiti Kuga, National Institute for Space Research (INPE)

Space Mechanic and Control Division

Maria Cecília F. P. S. Zanardi, Federal University of ABC

Centro de Engenharia, Modelagem e Ciências Sociais






Original Papers