ESA GNC Conference Papers Repository
The PMD 3D-Camera for Rendezvous and Docking with Passive Objects
While docking of two cooperating space vehicles already became routine, the rendezvous of a spacecraft with a passive object (whether a defect spacecraft or a comet / asteroid) still raises significant technical challenges. The relative position, attitude and dynamics of the body to be approached needs to be characterized by appropriate sensor systems in the near range for synchronization of the motion and for safe operations. For this task the suitability of the Photonic Mixer Device (PMD) 3Dcamera is investigated in this contribution. This active time-of-flight camera emits modulated light to derive by a phase shift measurement also a distance information for each pixel. For typical rendezvous and docking scenarios, this contribution reports about tests analyzing influences of relative velocities, rotation dynamics, illumination and optical properties of target surface materials to determine related disturbance effects and to characterize performance properties for this sensor.