Determining position around an asteroid using communication relays and trilateration

Evan Nelson, Charles D. Creusere, Eric Butcher

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


In this paper we consider the possibility of using a communications system that is operating between probes on the surface of an asteroid and an orbiting satellite to determine their relative spatial positions. This is accomplished by measuring the round trip communication delay between the orbiter and various surface probes to estimate distance and, thus, the position. By measuring the time it takes for a signal to be transmitted from the spacecraft, received by the surface probe, and then retransmitted back to the spacecraft, it is possible to get reasonable distance estimates without the need for high-precision, synchronized clocks on the surface probes. From these distance measurements, position can be determined using trilateration - the same basic technique behind the earth-based GPS system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIEEE Aerospace Conference Proceedings
PublisherIEEE Computer Society
ISBN (Print)9781479953790
StatePublished - Jun 5 2015
Event2015 IEEE Aerospace Conference, AERO 2015 - Big Sky, United States
Duration: Mar 7 2015Mar 14 2015


Other2015 IEEE Aerospace Conference, AERO 2015
CountryUnited States
CityBig Sky


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this

Nelson, E., Creusere, C. D., & Butcher, E. (2015). Determining position around an asteroid using communication relays and trilateration. In IEEE Aerospace Conference Proceedings (Vol. 2015-June). [7118955] IEEE Computer Society.