In this interview, we talk to Sanat K. Biswas and Andrew G. Dempster, authors of the book, Navigation and Tracking in Space: Analysis and Algorithms. We discuss the motivation behind writing the book, the target audience, the most useful aspects of the book, the challenges of writing the book, and advice for other engineers who are considering writing a book.
Sanat K. Biswas received a Bachelor of Engineering, Instrumentation and Electronics from Jadavpur University, Master of Technology, Aerospace Engineering from the Indian Institution of Technology Bombay and a PhD, Electrical Engineering and Telecommunication from The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia in 2017. Currently, Dr. Biswas is an Assistant Professor at the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology Delhi (IIIT Delhi). Dr. Biswas is currently doing research for SDR-based GNSS/NavIC reectometry receiver development for Earth Observation missions, Dynamics Predictive Fast Particle Filter for GNSS interference Source tracking, and Precise Orbit Determination using GNSS observations for LEO satellite missions at IIIT Delhi on. He has been a member of the IEEE Control Systems Society, IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society, IEEE Geo-science and Remote Sensing Society, Aeronautical Society of India, Indian Radio Science Society and Automatic Control and Dynamic Optimization Society.
Andrew G. Dempster received his BE and MEngSc degrees from UNSW Australia, in 1984 and 1992, respectively, and his PhD degree in efficient circuits for signal processing arithmetic from the University of Cambridge, Cambridge, U.K., in 1995. He is director of the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research (ACSER), UNSW Australia. He was a system engineer and project manager for the first GPS receiver developed in Australia in the late 1980s and has been involved in satellite navigation ever since. He has published in the areas of arithmetic circuits, signal processing, biomedical image processing, satellite navigation, and space systems. His current research interests are in satellite navigation receiver design and signal processing, areas where he has six patents, new location technologies, and space systems.
1. What was your main motivation behind writing your book?
For us, undertaking this book was a logical step towards building our research in space vehicle navigation. We have encountered exceptional literature on astrodynamics, orbit determination, and satellite tracking. However, we sensed a gap – a lack of beginner-friendly resources with detailed, step-by-step implementations of navigation and tracking algorithms.
Our desire to fill this gap inspired us to write this book. Drawing from over a decade of research, we aimed to create a tutorial-style guide that provides theoretical insights and practical examples. Our goal was to make complex concepts accessible to newcomers. This book is the result of the fusion of our experiences and existing literature, and we humbly hope it will serve as a valuable resource.
2. Who is the main target audience for your book and what will they appreciate the most about the book?
Our book was written with a specific audience in mind: young engineers and researchers eager to step into the captivating field of spacecraft navigation and tracking. We aimed to create a resource that would serve as a supportive guide, providing practical insights to help them navigate the complexities of the field with ease. However, our aspirations for the book extend beyond just enthusiastic newcomers. We believe that even seasoned space navigators, with their extensive experience, will find value in the detailed examples and tutorial approach. We hope to offer a fresh perspective and perhaps even spark new ideas for those who are already well-versed in the intricacies of space navigation.
3. What do you see your book being most useful for?
Our book is intended to be a handy resource for those navigating the complexities of space vehicle navigation. Its extensive content and detailed examples establish it as an essential guide for swift insights and practical applications. Whether you’re exploring the fundamentals or looking to integrate sophisticated algorithms, we aspire for this book to be a reliable companion throughout your journey.
4. How did you find the writing of the book? Do you have a specific process or are you quite methodical in your writing approach?
The majority of the book’s content is based on my PhD thesis on space vehicle navigation with Andrew as my supervisor. With years of research in this domain, we amassed a wealth of relevant materials, codes, and data that proved invaluable in our work. This extensive groundwork not only facilitated the writing process but also ensured that we had a robust foundation to build upon.
Efficiency is at the core of our approach. Having honed our skills in typesetting systems, reference management, and plot preparation over the years, we sought to create a process that prioritized content creation. By minimizing repetitive tasks, we aimed to establish an environment that allowed the writing to flow seamlessly, enabling us to distil our knowledge into a cohesive and accessible form for our readers.
5. What challenges did you face when writing the book and how did you overcome them?
One of the significant challenges we encountered during the writing process was the delicate balance of time management. As academicians juggling various responsibilities such as research, teaching, and project management, finding time dedicated to the book posed a unique challenge.
To overcome this hurdle, meticulous planning became our ally. We devised a structured plan well in advance, allocating specific periods for writing amidst our other commitments. Additionally, leveraging computer automation played a pivotal role in reducing repetitive tasks, allowing us to streamline our efforts and maintain a steady momentum in the writing process.
6. What advice would you give to other engineers who are considering writing a book?
Embarking on the journey of writing a book in the engineering domain is a rewarding yet challenging endeavour. Here are some insights we’d like to share based on our experience:
- Gather All Materials Before Starting: Ensure you have all the necessary materials, codes, and data at your disposal before you commence writing. This proactive approach will facilitate a smoother writing process.
- Plan in Advance for Effective Time Management: Given the multifaceted roles many engineers play, effective time management is crucial. Plan the structure of your book in advance, allocating dedicated time slots for writing. This foresight helps maintain a balance between your writing commitments and other responsibilities.
- Automate Repetitive Tasks: Manual and repetitive tasks can be time-consuming and can impede the writing flow. Consider creating your own software toolchain for document preparation. Automation not only saves time but also ensures consistency in your work.
Writing a book demands dedication, organization, and a strategic approach. Remember, your unique insights have the potential to contribute significantly to your field.
7. What are you working on next?
Our current focus revolves around the continued exploration of computationally efficient non-linear estimators, understanding their stochastic stability, and assessing their relevance in the context of GNSS integrity monitoring. At the core of these algorithms lies the efficient propagation of uncertainty, and we are actively examining their applicability to covariance propagation within the space situational awareness domain. Simultaneously, GNSS-Reflectometry has emerged as another area of research interest for us.
Learn more about the book on our websites
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