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Unit of study_

AERO3760: Space Engineering 2

Semester 2, 2021 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit of study covers a range of fundamental and applied topics in space engineering systems including satellite tracking and orbit determination, satellite attitude determination, satellite positioning systems, space robotics and planetary rovers. Students will learn to recognise and appreciate the coupling between the different elements of space system design. Students will learn to use this system knowledge and basic design principles to design and test a solution to problems including space estimation and control tasks, and space systems design.

Unit details and rules

Unit code AERO3760
Academic unit Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic
Credit points 6
Students must have a 65% average in [(AMME2500 AND AMME2261 AND AMME2301 AND AERO2705) OR (AMME2500 AND AMME2301 AND MTRX2700 AND AERO2705) OR (AMME2500 AND AMME2200 AND AMME2301 AND AERO2705)]. Note: MUST have passed AERO2705
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Ali GOKTOGAN,
Lecturer(s) Ali GOKTOGAN,
Zi Wang,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Assignment 1: Orbital mechanics
Assignment including report and code
20% Week 03
Due date: 29 Aug 2021 at 23:59
approx. 12 hours, 4-6 pages plus code
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3
Assignment Assignment 2: GNSS and orbit determination
Assignment including report and code
30% Week 07
Due date: 26 Sep 2021 at 23:59
approx. 18 hours, 9-12 pages plus code
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Assignment group assignment Group Major Project Proposal
Proposal for group major project
5% Week 09
Due date: 15 Oct 2021 at 23:59
two pages max.
Outcomes assessed: LO4 LO5
Assignment group assignment Group Major Project: Demonstration and Video
Final demonstration/presentation and video on project.
12.5% Week 13
Due date: 09 Nov 2021 at 14:00
5 weeks, 10 min demo, 5 min video
Outcomes assessed: LO4 LO5
Assignment group assignment Group Major Project: Final report and source code
Final report and source code for major project
32.5% Week 13
Due date: 14 Nov 2021 at 23:59
5 weeks, approx. 50 pages
Outcomes assessed: LO4 LO5
group assignment = group assignment ?

Assessment summary

  • Assignment 1: Focuses on orbital mechanics and prediction of satellite orbits.
  • Assignment 2: Focuses on global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) and orbit determination from ground tracking measurements.
  • Group Project: Students will work in groups of four on a chosen space robotics project. Options are available for simulation-based projects (which may be completed online) or projects involving use of robotic arms in the School’s Robotic Assembly Lab.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

Standard University late penalties apply on all assessments.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Multiple weeks An average student should spent a total of 73 hours of independent study over the semester, including work on assessment tasks. Independent study (73 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 01 Introduction to course: Aerospace frames of reference Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 02 Orbital mechanics and space geometry: Keplerian orbital mechanics and orbital perturbations Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 03 Introduction to estimation in aerospace applications: Linear least squares, constrained and weighted least squares, and non-linear least squares Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 04 Global navigation satellite systems: Introduction to GPS, signals and message structure, orbit geometry, orbit calculation using almanac and ephemeris data, error sources, GPS accuracy quantification, and dilution of precision Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 05 Orbit determination: Alternative models for orbit prediction, initial orbit determination, and orbit refinement using nonlinear least squares Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 06 Attitude determination systems (ADS): Attitude representations, magnetic sensing, sun/star tracking, horizon scanners, sensor modelling and error simulation, ADS methods, and least squares for ADS Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 07 Remote sensing error analysis and advanced estimation techniques: Modelling the coupling between navigation and mapping errors, error budgets, sequential estimation, and the Kalman filter Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 08 Introduction to space robotics and planetary rovers Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO5
Week 09 Group projects contain options for using robotic arm in the Robotic Assembly Lab Practical (1 hr) LO4 LO5
Space systems engineering principles, docking and berthing Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO4 LO5
Week 10 Group projects contain options for using robotic arm in the Robotic Assembly Lab Practical (1 hr) LO4 LO5
Model-based system engineering, system modelling languages Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 11 Group projects contain options for using robotic arm in the Robotic Assembly Lab Practical (1 hr) LO4 LO5
Planetary Rovers Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 12 Group projects contain options for using robotic arm in the Robotic Assembly Lab Practical (1 hr) LO4 LO5
Planetary rovers, traversability maps and path planning Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 13 Group projects contain options for using robotic arm in the Robotic Assembly Lab Practical (1 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Summary of Space Robotics Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO4 LO5

Attendance and class requirements

Independent study: The average student is expected to spend at least 6 hours on this UoS per week, outside of the standard contact hours.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

All readings for this unit can be accessed through the Library eReserve, available on Canvas.

  • Howard D. Curtis, Orbital Mechanics for Engineering Students (3rd Edition) (3rd Edition). Butterworth-Heinemann, 2013. ISBN-13: 9780080977478 ISBN-10: 0080977472.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. develop and apply algorithms for satellite tracking, orbit determination, attitude determination systems and global navigation satellite system positioning.
  • LO2. recognise and appreciate the coupling between the different elements within an estimation task, such as satellite remote sensing, from a systems-theoretic perspective
  • LO3. apply learned techniques in estimation and control theory to solving a wide range of different problems in aerospace engineering
  • LO4. use system knowledge and basic design principles to design and test a solution to a given estimation task, with a focus on space applications (such as satellite remote sensing and navigation systems).
  • LO5. understand of the use of robotics and autonomous system in aerospace applications including in-orbit manipulation, docking and planetary landers and rovers.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

Feedback from students is an important part of the continuous improvement of this course. We have updated group project options for this semester amongst other changes in the delivery of the unit.

Work, health and safety

Group project options during Weeks 9-12 will allow for students to work with our UR5 robotic arms in the Haliday Robotic Assembly Lab. Specific information on safety during these classes will be made available via the course’s Canvas page.


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