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Improvement of Orbit Prediction Algorithm for Spacecraft Through Simplified Precession-Nutation Model Using Cubic Spline Interpolation Method

Gen Xu, Danhe Chen, Xiang Zhang, Wenhe Liao*
School of Mechanical Engineering, Nanjing University of Science and Technology, Nanjing, 210097, China
* Corresponding Author: Wenhe Liao. Email:
(This article belongs to this Special Issue: Modeling and Analysis of Autonomous Intelligence)

Computer Modeling in Engineering & Sciences 2020, 125(2), 865-878.

Received 14 July 2020; Accepted 25 August 2020; Issue published 12 October 2020


For the on-orbit flight missions, the model of orbit prediction is critical for the tasks with high accuracy requirement and limited computing resources of spacecraft. The precession-nutation model, as the main part of extended orbit prediction, affects the efficiency and accuracy of on-board operation. In this paper, the previous research about the conversion between the Geocentric Celestial Reference System and International Terrestrial Reference System is briefly summarized, and a practical concise precession-nutation model is proposed for coordinate transformation computation based on Celestial Intermediate Pole (CIP). The idea that simplifying the CIP-based model with interpolation method is driven by characteristics of precession-nutation parameters changing with time. A cubic spline interpolation algorithm is applied to obtain the required CIP coordinates and Celestial Intermediate Origin locator. The complete precession nutation model containing more than 4000 parameters is simplified to the calculation of a cubic polynomial, which greatly reduces the computational load. In addition, for evaluating the actual performance, an orbit propagator is built with the proposed simplified precession-nutation model. Compared with the orbit prediction results obtained by the truncated series of IAU2000/2006 precession-nutation model, the simplified precession-nutation model with cubic spline interpolation can significantly improve the accuracy of orbit prediction, which implicates great practical application value in further on-orbit missions of spacecraft.


Orbit prediction; CIP-based coordinate transformation; cubic spline interpolation

Cite This Article

Xu, G., Chen, D., Zhang, X., Liao, W. (2020). Improvement of Orbit Prediction Algorithm for Spacecraft Through Simplified Precession-Nutation Model Using Cubic Spline Interpolation Method. CMES-Computer Modeling in Engineering & Sciences, 125(2), 865–878.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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