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Research Article |

Attitude Estimation of H2A Rocket Body from Light Curve Measurements

The knowledge of the attitude motion of space debris is relevant for active debris removal missions. One possibility to characterize the attitude of space objects consists in the acquisition of photometric measurements over time, called light curves. The observed object is illuminated by the Sun and the variation of its apparent brightness gives information about its attitude state, e.g. whether the object is tumbling or not. If the light curve indicates a clear periodic variation it can be assumed that the object is rotating around its own axis with approximately constant angular velocity. However, often the orientation of the spin axis in body-fixed and inertial frame is unknown and its determination is challenging. Depending on the observed object and the information available about its shape, surface, components, a limited number of methods exists to determine the spin axis orientation. In this article we focus the attitude analysis on the Japanese H2A upper stage. Several light curves of this type of rocket body exhibit specific peaks, which can be exploited to extract attitude information. We assume that the peaks are related to the specular reflection occurring on the conical part of the upper stage. We present a novel method to estimate the direction of the rotation axis from the position of these peaks.

Space Debris, Attitude Determination, Light Curves, H2A Rocket Body

APA Style

Alessandro Vananti, Yao Lu, Thomas Schildknecht. (2023). Attitude Estimation of H2A Rocket Body from Light Curve Measurements. International Journal of Astrophysics and Space Science, 11(2), 15-22.

ACS Style

Alessandro Vananti; Yao Lu; Thomas Schildknecht. Attitude Estimation of H2A Rocket Body from Light Curve Measurements. Int. J. Astrophys. Space Sci. 2023, 11(2), 15-22. doi: 10.11648/j.ijass.20231102.11

AMA Style

Alessandro Vananti, Yao Lu, Thomas Schildknecht. Attitude Estimation of H2A Rocket Body from Light Curve Measurements. Int J Astrophys Space Sci. 2023;11(2):15-22. doi: 10.11648/j.ijass.20231102.11

Copyright © 2023 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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