20 May 2013 Doppler lidar sensor for precision navigation in GPS-deprived environment
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Landing mission concepts that are being developed for exploration of solar system bodies are increasingly ambitious in their implementations and objectives. Most of these missions require accurate position and velocity data during their descent phase in order to ensure safe, soft landing at the pre-designated sites. Data from the vehicle’s Inertial Measurement Unit will not be sufficient due to significant drift error after extended travel time in space. Therefore, an onboard sensor is required to provide the necessary data for landing in the GPS-deprived environment of space. For this reason, NASA Langley Research Center has been developing an advanced Doppler lidar sensor capable of providing accurate and reliable data suitable for operation in the highly constrained environment of space. The Doppler lidar transmits three laser beams in different directions toward the ground. The signal from each beam provides the platform velocity and range to the ground along the laser line-of-sight (LOS). The six LOS measurements are then combined in order to determine the three components of the vehicle velocity vector, and to accurately measure altitude and attitude angles relative to the local ground. These measurements are used by an autonomous Guidance, Navigation, and Control system to accurately navigate the vehicle from a few kilometers above the ground to the designated location and to execute a gentle touchdown. A prototype version of our lidar sensor has been completed for a closed-loop demonstration onboard a rocket-powered terrestrial free-flyer vehicle.
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F. Amzajerdian, F. Amzajerdian, D. F. Pierrottet, D. F. Pierrottet, G. D. Hines, G. D. Hines, L. B. Petway, L. B. Petway, B. W. Barnes, B. W. Barnes, "Doppler lidar sensor for precision navigation in GPS-deprived environment", Proc. SPIE 8731, Laser Radar Technology and Applications XVIII, 87310G (20 May 2013); doi: 10.1117/12.2018359; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2018359

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