Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair

Jason N Gross

Committee Co-Chair

John A Christian

Committee Member

Yu Gu


A multi-antenna Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), multi-sensor attitude estimation algorithm is outlined, and its sensitivity to various error sources is assessed. The attitude estimation algorithm first estimates attitude using multiple GNSS antennas, and then fuses a host of other attitude estimation sensors including tri-axial magnetometers, Sun sensors, and inertial sensors. This work is motivated by the attitude determination needs of the Antarctic Impulse Transient Antenna (ANITA) experiment, a high-altitude balloon-suspended science platform. In order to assess performance trade-offs of various algorithm configurations, the attitude estimation performance of various approaches is tested using a simulation that is based on recorded ANITA III flight data. For GNSS errors, attention is focused on multipath, receiver measurement noise, and carrier-phase breaks. For the remaining attitude sensors, different grades of sensor are assessed. Through a Monte-Carlo simulation, it is shown that, under typical conditions, sub-0.1 degree attitude accuracy is available when using multiple antenna GNSS data only, but that this accuracy can degrade to degree-level in some environments warranting the inclusion of additional attitude sensors to maintain the desired level of accuracy. This algorithm was validated in a flight test. A WVU Phastball unmanned aerial vehicle was outfitted with GNSS receivers, an IMU, a magnetometer, and a Sun sensor to collect flight data. To determine the wing flex during flight, and correct the body-centric antenna coordinates, a computer vision algorithm was developed to use aircraft-mounted camera data to track markers along the wing surface and estimate the wing deflection.