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Autonomous navigation around small space object (asteroid or space debris)

Published: 6 November 2020

With the recent advancement in space technology, exploration of small bodies such as near-earth asteroids and comets has attracted a global attention in the present era. Exploration of small bodies will provide potential scientific and technological returns, which includes space mining, development of planetary defense system and exploration about origin of life. However, such impactful missions are demanding with unique technological challenges.

Accurate autonomous onboard navigation guidance and control are one of the key factors for successful exploration of small space bodies and proximity operations around it. However, the knowledge about the shape, size, rotation and gravitational parameters of small space objects are limited. Moreover, due their tumbling motion the lighting condition changes frequently. Hence straightforward camera-based measurement is not sufficient to determine the pose of the spacecraft relative to small space objects.

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