AI-Based Real-Time Star Tracker

Guy Carmeli, Boaz Ben-Moshe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Many systems on Earth and in space require precise orientation when observing the sky, particularly for objects that move at high speeds in space, such as satellites, spaceships, and missiles. These systems often rely on star trackers, which are devices that use star patterns to determine the orientation of the spacecraft. However, traditional star trackers are often expensive and have limitations in their accuracy and robustness. To address these challenges, this research aims to develop a high-performance and cost-effective AI-based Real-Time Star Tracker system as a basic platform for micro/nanosatellites. The system uses existing hardware, such as FPGAs and cameras, which are already part of many avionics systems, to extract line-of-sight (LOS) vectors from sky images. The algorithm implemented in this research is a “lost-in-space” algorithm that uses a self-organizing neural network map (SOM) for star pattern recognition. SOM is an unsupervised machine learning algorithm that is usually used for data visualization, clustering, and dimensionality reduction. Today’s technologies enable star-based navigation, making matching a sky image to the star map an important aspect of navigation. This research addresses the need for reliable, low-cost, and high-performance star trackers, which can accurately recognize star patterns from sky images with a success rate of about 98% in approximately 870 microseconds.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2084
JournalElectronics (Switzerland)
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 2023


  • artificial neural network
  • best-matched unit
  • lost in space
  • pattern recognition
  • self-organizing map
  • star tracker


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