Space travel has evolved greatly since the launch of the first artificial satellite, the Sputnik. This historic event led to the beginning of what we now call the space age. During this time, the interest in using and exploring space skyrocketed! Consequently, new forms of spacecraft attitude determination and navigation were developed. The desire to travel in space led to the development of systems like StarNav. StarNav, one type of star tracker, is a device that provides navigational information by tracking celestial objects and recognizing its placement within them.
Since space is so enormous, it is extremely important to follow the planned course and avoid getting lost. Imagine being blindfolded and floating in the middle of a room, would you be able to know which way you were facing. Upside down or sideways? Similarly, in space the way your spacecraft is pointed is very critical. When communication is established, the spacecraft must be positioned just right so the data can be transferred. This pointing characteristic is called attitude information. Attitude information is extremely crucial especially when you want to maintain communication with a satellite or spacecraft.
In the following is an example, you are given two images: one is an image taken by StarNav and the other is a star chart. Your goal will be to identify the labeled stars on the image to the numbered stars on the star chart. This is called Star Identification. Star ID is one of the tasks StarNav performed to determine the attitude of a spacecraft. Can you match the stars?