ESA GNC Conference Papers Repository
Visual Sensor Suite - Flight Experience on MEV
Jena-Optronik GmbH, located in Jena/Germany, has profound experience in designing and manufacturing star trackers since the early 80s. Today the company has a worldwide leading position in supplying geo-stationary and earth observation satellites with robust and reliable star tracker systems. Embedded in a development contract (17317/2003/F/WE) from the European Space Agency, CMOS Active Pixel Sensors were introduced for advanced star tracker technologies. Using these technologies, Jena-Optronik GmbH developed a multi-purpose visual sensor suite (VSS) consisting of different optical heads and an advanced electronic controller box. The optical head uses FaintStar, the 2nd generation of CMOS active pixels sensors developed within ESA funded programs. The sensor can be combined with several optics for narrow and wide field applications. The e-box is equipped with a LEON 3 processing unit and can be extended to fully redundant operation. The wide range of configurations enables the system to support different applications such as Rendezvous and Docking (RvD), Space Situational Awareness (SSA), Surveillance and Star Tracking. Fields of view of 19deg and 68deg with corresponding baffles of 26 and 85 SEA are available, others on request. A typical configuration is a narrow field of view (NFOV) optical head stereo camera pair for far range object detection from 45.000m down to 10m combined with a wide field of view (WFOV) optical head stereo camera pair for close range object detection from 0.5 to 100m. Thus there is a range overlap of 90m. A further pair of WFOV optical heads is installed for redundancy and additionally surveillance in close range. The development and qualification period was performed within about 2 years of concentrated work in close collaboration with the first customer Northrop Grumman Innovation System to provide the Visible Sensor Suite for the first Mission Extension Vehicle ? MEV1. Shortly after delivery of the first flight set it was launched in October 2019 and successfully switched ON on 5th of December 2019. The paper presents detailed information about the qualification phase and the achieved key parameters. We give mission experiences and outlook to ongoing developments for high performance star trackers and solutions for constellation approaches.