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Gotcha Chart


  • Create an algorithm to describe the movement of a nanosatellite around a larger satellite. The micro-inspector must be able to launch safely, move

autonomously from point to point, and maintain a safe distance from the satellite being inspected.

  • Test the algorithm using increasingly more complex models. The algorithm

will be tested in Simulink, Gazebo, and the testbed.


  • Weeks 1-2: Complete a basic model of the satellite in Simulink. Model will have three thrusters and will include gravitational effects and thruster specifications.
  • Weeks 3-4: Complete basic models in Simulink for maintaining safe distance and launching. Model will include gravitational effects and thruster specifications.
  • Weeks 5-7: Complete more complex model in Gazebo. Combine the three models in Simulink into one model for spacecraft operation. Model will include eight thrusters and and will consider all forces on the spacecraft.
  • Weeks 8-10: Test algorithm on testbed and adjust algorithm based on testing results.

Technical Challenges

  • Using Gazebo
  • Using Linux
  • Programming in C++ and MATLAB
  • Using Simulink
  • Learning about controls
  • Understanding forces on satellite
  • Using the testbed
  • Understanding safe distance requirements and launch specifications
  • Understanding what has been done so far on the micro-inspector


  • Go through MATLAB and C++ tutorials
  • Learn more about Gazebo, work with others using Gazebo, and find out if anyone has used Gazebo to model spacecraft
  • Read online controls textbook
  • Use Linux computers as often as possible
  • Contact students at JPL to learn more about the requirements of the satellite and the forces that will be applied on the satellite
  • Go to JPL to study the testbed and learn how to use it
  • Talk with other students who work on the micro-inspector