Title: Pose estimation of an uncooperative spacecraft from actual space imagery

Authors: Simone D'Amico; Mathias Benn; John L. Jørgensen

Addresses: Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Stanford University, Room 262, William F. Durand Building, 496 Lomita Mall, Stanford, CA 94305-4035, USA ' Technical University of Denmark, DTU Space, Elektrovej, Building 327, DK-2800 Lyngby, Denmark ' Technical University of Denmark, DTU Space, Elektrovej, Building 327, DK-2800 Lyngby, Denmark

Abstract: This paper addresses the preliminary design of a spaceborne monocular vision-based navigation system for on-orbit-servicing and formation-flying applications. The aim is to estimate the pose of a passive space resident object using its known three-dimensional model and single low-resolution two-dimensional images collected on-board the active spacecraft. In contrast to previous work, no supportive means are available on the target satellite (e.g., light emitting diodes) and no a-priori knowledge of the relative position and attitude is available (i.e., lost-in-space scenario). Three fundamental mechanisms - perceptual organisation, true perspective projection, and random sample consensus - are exploited to overcome the limitations of monocular passive optical navigation in space. The preliminary design is conducted and validated making use of actual images collected in the frame of the PRISMA mission at about 700 km altitude and 10 m inter-spacecraft separation.

Keywords: pose estimation; optical navigation; monocular vision; uncooperative spacecraft; flight results; PRISMA; space imagery; on-orbit servicing; spacecraft formation flying; 3D modelling.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSPACESE.2014.060600

International Journal of Space Science and Engineering, 2014 Vol.2 No.2, pp.171 - 189

Received: 02 Sep 2013
Accepted: 22 Oct 2013

Published online: 22 Apr 2014 *

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