ESA GNC Conference Papers Repository
MSR-ERO : Narrow Angle Navigation Camera
The Mars Sample Return (MSR) Earth Return Orbiter (ERO) is a European Space Agency contribution to the ESA/NASA joint Mars Sample Return Campaign, which aims to return soil and atmospheric samples from the Mars surface to Earth by 2031. The ERO orbiter will have to detect, rendezvous with, and capture a football-size object called the Orbiting Sample (OS); a passive, inert, non-cooperative and uncontrolled toppling object in Mars orbit. Such a challenging acquisition and tracking phase requires a visual detection involving the use of a long-range detection camera which Sodern has been selected by Airbus Defence and Space for supplying and is referred to as Narrow Angle Camera (NAC). The NAC is meant to take images of the Orbiting Sample (OS) and stars in the vicinity of Mars, during both an initial OS detection phase, as well as provide Target Centre of Brightness data during the Rendezvous phase of the MSR-ERO mission. This phase makes use of an algorithm, called Target Centroiding, which is designed to resist solar flares, straylight, and motion, and restitutes the OS line of sight while resisting potential outliers. This paper describes the current features of the NAC and ongoing activities, with a focus on architecture, design and simulation. A first section presents on the overall camera architecture and modelling, and is followed by an overview of the rendezvous phase design. The third and last sections focus on the NAC preliminary performance evaluations in both phases as well as development plans, ongoing testing and future works.