ESA GNC Conference Papers Repository

Development of a Descent & Landing GNC Subsystem Demonstrator for the Verification of Visual Navigation Solutions for Lunar Landing Applications
Hornbostel, K.; Estable, S.; Nuber, C.; Gornig, S.
Presented at:
Porto 2014
Full paper:

Enabling Future human lunar exploration Europe is concentrating on the development of technologies and capabilities to enable European participation in planetary landing missions. Following Phase A studies, the European Space Agency (ESA) has initiated in 2010 a mission study on Phase B1 level to investigate a Lunar Lander mission focusing on soft precision landing by means of landing legs and also providing the capability to avoid hazard during descent and landing. The Airbus Defence and Space had been awarded the contract by ESA/ESTEC as Prime Contractor for the execution of the Phase B1 activities. The mission and system related part of the study has been supported in parallel by bread-boarding activities related to GNC aspects. Main part of the bread-boarding activities was the development and validation of a Descent & Landing GNC subsystem demonstrator as a PIL/HIL test bench to obtain the performance requirements for the developed visual navigation (relative feature tracking and absolute feature detection & matching) and hazard detection algorithms (HDA) in an open loop test environment. The test bench consists of flight representative 'off-the-shelf' hardware and allows the partitioning of the dedicated algorithms into FPGA functions (hardware image processing {IP}HW) and software modules (software image processing {IP}SW) running on a Generic Purpose Processor. During the validation test campaign several descent and landing sequences have been tested by stimulating the sensors inputs with representative attitude and visual data. The obtained test results provide the evidence of the achieved timing and navigation prediction performances. The paper will describe the architecture of the Lunar Lander avionics baseline, the test bench, the implementation approach of the navigation algorithms and the applied test concept. It will further detailed the performance characteristic achieved, and describe the intended next steps and the related engineering challenges to evolve the test bench into a close loop test environment.