5 August 2003 Mini AERCam: development of a free-flying nanosatellite inspection robot
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The Engineering Directorate of NASA Johnson Space Center has developed a nanosatellite-class free-flyer intended for future external inspection and remote viewing of human spaceflight activities, including International Space Station (ISS) operations. The Miniature Autonomous Extravehicular Robotic Camera (Mini AERCam) technology demonstration unit has been integrated into the approximate form and function of a flight system. The spherical Mini AERCam free flyer is 7.5 inches in diameter and weighs approximately 10 pounds, yet it incorporates significant additional capabilities compared to the 35 pound, 14 inch AERCam Sprint that flew as a Shuttle flight experiment in 1997. Mini AERCam hosts a full suite of miniaturized avionics, instrumentation, communications, navigation, imaging, power, and propulsion subsystems, including two digital video cameras and a high resolution still image camera. The vehicle is designed for either remotely piloted operations or supervised autonomous operations including automatic stationkeeping and point-to-point maneuvering. Free-flyer testing has been conducted on an air-bearing table and in a six degree-of-freedom closed-loop orbital simulation. The orbital simulation models the three-dimensional dynamics of the free-flyer in proximity to the ISS, and produces corresponding God's eye views and simulated free-flyer camera views. A high-fidelity simulation is achieved by directly interfacing to free-flyer thruster driver signals, emulating the MEMS gyro responses in hardware, and using the "truth" state to drive a GPS signal generator connected to the free-flyer GPS receiver.
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Steven E. Fredrickson, Steven E. Fredrickson, Larry W. Abbott, Larry W. Abbott, Steve Duran, Steve Duran, J. David Jochim, J. David Jochim, J. William Studak, J. William Studak, Jennifer D. Wagenknecht, Jennifer D. Wagenknecht, Nichole M. Williams, Nichole M. Williams, "Mini AERCam: development of a free-flying nanosatellite inspection robot", Proc. SPIE 5088, Space Systems Technology and Operations, (5 August 2003); doi: 10.1117/12.498108; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.498108

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