Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Astronautical Engineering


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

William W Wiesel, PhD


The purpose of this thesis is to examine what data requirements are necessary to avoid continual series of uncorrelated tracks when gathering observations. The constants of the motion for simple two-body motion for a satellite orbiting the Earth, known as the classical orbital elements or COEs, do not remain constant due to zonal and sectoral harmonic variations in the Earth’s gravitational field. There are other elements of the motion that should be considered and this paper discusses the constancy of three elements: the Hamiltonian (H) of the Earth-Centered Rotating System, Ẑ-component of inertial angular momentum (Hk), and the time rate of change of the right ascension of the ascending node (Ω˙). With an understanding of the constancy of these elements, simulated data was used to determine the effects sensor performance and observation quantity have on the ability to effectively estimate these constants. This information was used to determine an appropriate level of fidelity for a model to be utilized as a supplement in fitting observation data with current data available in the Satellite Catalog.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number