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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2014/41419

Title: Wind-based navigation of a hot-air balloon on Titan : a feasibility study
Authors: Furfaro, Roberto
Lunine, Jonathan I.
Elfes, Alberto
Reh, Kim
Keywords: Cassini
Titan
hot air balloons
autonomous exploration
balloon dynamics
fuzzy controller
Issue Date: 24-May-2008
Publisher: Pasadena, CA : Jet Propulsion Laboratory, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2008.
Citation: SPIE Conference, Orlando, Florida, May 24, 2008
Abstract: Current analysis of data streamed back to Earth by the Cassini spacecraft features Titan as one of the most exciting places in the solar system. NASA centers and universities around the US, as well as the European Space Agency, are studying the possibility of sending, as part of the next mission to this giant moon of Saturn, a hot-air balloon (Montgolfier-type) for further and more in-depth exploration. The basic idea would be to design a reliable, semi-autonomous, and yet cheap Montgolfier capable of using continuous flow of waste heat from a power source to lift the balloon and sustain its altitude in the Titan environment. In this paper we study the problem of locally navigating a hot-air balloon in the nitrogen-based Titan atmosphere. The basic idea is to define a strategy (i.e. design of a suitable guidance system) that allows autonomous and semi-autonomous navigation of the balloon using the available (and partial) knowledge of the wind structure blowing on the saturnian satellite surface. Starting from first principles we determined the appropriate thermal and dynamical models describing (a) the vertical dynamics of the balloon and (b) the dynamics of the balloon moving on a vertical plane (2-D motion). Next, various non-linear fuzzy-based control strategies have been evaluated, analyzed and implemented in MATLAB to numerically simulate the capability of the system to simultaneously maintain altitude, as well as a scientifically desirable trajectory. We also looked at the ability of the balloon to perform station keeping. The results of the simulation are encouraging and show the effectiveness of such a system to cheaply and effectively perform semiautonomous exploration of Titan.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2014/41419
Appears in Collections:JPL TRS 1992+

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