Geometric voting algorithm for star trackers

Michael Kolomenkin, Sharon Pollak, Ilan Shimshoni, Michael Lindenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present an algorithm for recovering the orientation (attitude) of a satellite-based camera. The algorithm matches stars in an image taken with the camera to stars in a star catalogue. The algorithm is based on a geometric voting scheme in which a pair of stars in the catalogue votes for a pair of stars in the image if the angular distance between the stars of both pairs is similar. As angular distance is a symmetric relationship, each of the two catalogue stars votes for each of the image stars. The identity of each star in the image is set to the identity of the catalogue star that cast the most votes. Once the identity of the stars is determined, the attitude of the camera is computed using a quaternion-based method. We further present a fast tracking algorithm that estimates the attitude for subsequent images after the first algorithm has terminated successfully. Our method runs in comparable speed to state of the art algorithms but is still more robust than them. The system has been implemented and tested on simulated data and on real sky images.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-456
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2008


  • Brightness
  • Calibration
  • Cameras
  • Distance measurement
  • Estimation
  • Least squares approximation
  • Robustness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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