A star identification algorithm was developed for a charge-coupled device (CCD) or complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) autonomous star tracker to acquire 3-axis attitude information for a lost-in-space spacecraft. The algorithm took advantage of an efficient on-board database and an original 4-star matching pattern recognition strategy to achieve fast and reliable star identification. The on-board database was composed of a brightness independent guide star catalog (mission catalog) and a K-vector star pair catalog. The star pattern recognition method involved direct location of star pair candidates and a simple array matching procedure. Tests of the algorithm with a CMOS active pixel sensor (APS) star tracker result in a 99.9% success rate for star identification for lost-in-space 3-axis attitude acquisition when the angular measurement accuracy of the star tracker is at least 0.01°. The brightness independent algorithm requires relatively higher measurement accuracy of the star apparent positions that can be easily achieved by CCD or CMOS sensors along with subpixel centroiding techniques.
Dong, Y., Xing, F., & You, Z. (2006). Brightness independent 4-star matching algorithm for lost-in-space 3-axis attitude acquisition. Tsinghua Science and Technology, 11(5), 543–548. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1007-0214(06)70232-2