Non-Cooperative Target Detection, Tracking and Rendezvous Methods and Technology

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis

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The space sector is currently undergoing rapid development shifting towards increased commercialisation and cheaper access to space. This is accelerating the interest in, and freeing resources for, exploring cis-lunar space and constructing novel and complex space exploration missions and technology demonstrations. Planned missions of the coming decade include robotic and manned missions to the Lunar South pole, returning samples from Mars and missions to asteroids, comets and the icy moons of the solar system. These missions must perform precision landing, rendezvous and formation flight relative to non-cooperative targets (targets that do not actively convey information about their orientation, position or appearance).

Navigation relative to non-cooperative targets is inherently challenging and require developing and improving navigation methods and technologies. The overarching aim of this PhD dissertation is to increase the capability, reliability, accuracy and/or autonomy of navigation systems in order to maximize the return of the investment. This dissertation addresses four key areas identified where high value can be obtained from improving navigation methods and technologies:

1. In the conceptualization of new navigation solutions and systems that address specific, new requirements of future space missions.
2. In pre-flight test and validation methods that increase reliability of navigation systems and decreases risk of failure or down-time due to unforeseen issues.
3. In utilizing already existing navigation solutions for multi-purpose to increase the scientific output of missions.
4. In post-flight evaluation and validation of models which can be used as input into new concepts and/or improvements.

This dissertation analyses the areas through four case studies: The first case study is a feasibility study of a beacon based, in-situ navigation system installed using penetrator technology on the Lunar South pole. The second case study  details the development of a hardware-in-the-loop simulation tool capable of simulating scenarios for comet interception and formation flight. The third case study analyses how star trackers can be used for multi-purpose as radiation monitors. The fourth case study is a structured analysis of how different user inputs in planetary stereogrammetry influence the generated topography models.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherTechnical University of Denmark
Number of pages150
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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