An Integrated Sensing Approach for Entry, Descent, and Landing of a Robotic Spacecraft
Jones, Brandon M.
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We present an integrated sensing approach for enabling autonomous landing of a robotic spacecraft on a hazardous terrain surface; this approach is active during the spacecraft descent profile. The methodology incorporates an image transformation algorithm to interpret temporal imagery land data, perform real-time detection and avoidance of terrain hazards that may impede safe landing, and increase the accuracy of landing at a desired site of interest using landmark localization techniques. By integrating a linguistic rule-based engine with linear algebra and computer vision techniques, the approach suitably addresses inherent uncertainty in the hazard assessment process while ensuring computational simplicity for real-time implementation during spacecraft descent. The proposed approach is able to identify new hazards as they emerge and also remember the locations of past hazards that might impede spacecraft landing. We provide details of the methodology in this paper and present simulation results of the approach applied to a representative Mars landing descent profile.