Date of Award

Winter 2001

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Computational Analysis and Modeling

First Advisor

Natalia Zotov


MADS (Multi-mission Attitude Determination System) is a new software package used to determine the attitude of instruments on a high-altitude balloon employed for scientific experiments. There is no existing system for the automated determination of the attitude of instruments in balloon experiments, so we have developed MADS to do the data analysis for balloon experiments to find the location of astrophysical sources such as gamma-ray or x-ray sources.

The two areas that required most work were modeling star trackers and modeling the motion of the balloon. Star trackers are used on satellites, but are far too expensive and sophisticated to use on balloons. Their processes have to be modeled using only the data from simple CCD cameras. The motion of a three-axis-stabilized satellite moving in a prescribed orbit is very much simpler than the motion of a balloon, which is carried by stratospheric winds and always retains to some degree its initial spinning and pendular motions.

Another area that had to be addressed was interpolation when the balloon is out of range of a sufficient number of GPS satellites to determine it position (This may happen in the Arctic or Antarctic).

The software package, with documentation written to NASA standards, is being made available to NASA at their request.