22 April 2010 Active 3D camera design for target capture on Mars orbit
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During the ESA Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission, a sample canister launched from Mars will be autonomously captured by an orbiting satellite. We present the concept and the design of an active 3D camera supporting the orbiter navigation system during the rendezvous and capture phase. This camera aims at providing the range and bearing of a 20 cm diameter canister from 2 m to 5 km within a 20° field-of-view without moving parts (scannerless). The concept exploits the sensitivity and the gating capability of a gated intensified camera. It is supported by a pulsed source based on an array of laser diodes with adjustable amplitude and pulse duration (from nanoseconds to microseconds). The ranging capability is obtained by adequately controlling the timing between the acquisition of 2D images and the emission of the light pulses. Three modes of acquisition are identified to accommodate the different levels of ranging and bearing accuracy and the 3D data refresh rate. To come up with a single 3D image, each mode requires a different number of images to be processed. These modes can be applied to the different approach phases. The entire concept of operation of this camera is detailed with an emphasis on the extreme lighting conditions. Its uses for other space missions and terrestrial applications are also highlighted. This design is implemented in a prototype with shorter ranging capabilities for concept validation. Preliminary results obtained with this prototype are also presented. This work is financed by the Canadian Space Agency.
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Pierre Cottin, François Babin, Daniel Cantin, Adam Deslauriers, Bruno Sylvestre, "Active 3D camera design for target capture on Mars orbit", Proc. SPIE 7684, Laser Radar Technology and Applications XV, 768403 (22 April 2010); doi: 10.1117/12.850169; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.850169


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