ESA GNC Conference Papers Repository
Docking via Fusion of Monocular Vision-Based Systems
Navigation is still a critical factor in preparing any space exploration mission, as remote operation limits the objectives of the mission while onboard sensors alone assume high risks in unmanned navigation of the spacecraft. In this paper, the visual odometry (VO) from monocular cameras in both infrared (IR) and visible were employed in conjunction with acceleration measurements. A novel camera calibration technique was employed to align the camera coordinate frames of different spectrum. Finally, the fusion of the sensors with Extended Kalman Filter (EKF) provided relative pose estimation of nearby targets. The application can be implemented towards autonomous navigation for rendezvous and docking with a non-cooperative spacecraft in orbit. Preliminary results demonstrated that the fusion of both VOs of different spectrum improved the pose estimation?s accuracy. It is believed that the overall performance of the EKF can be further improved by reducing the noise in the instruments and eliminating outliers in the measurements. Ultimately, the results illustrated that although each sensor measurements alone suffer from inaccuracies, the sensor fusion presents a robust method towards autonomous guidance and navigation of a spacecraft.