19 May 2015 Imaging flash LIDAR for safe landing on solar system bodies and spacecraft rendezvous and docking
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NASA has been pursuing flash lidar technology for autonomous, safe landing on solar system bodies and for automated rendezvous and docking. During the final stages of landing, from about 1 km to 500 m above the ground, the flash lidar can generate 3-Dimensional images of the terrain to identify hazardous features such as craters, rocks, and steep slopes. The onboard flight computer can then use the 3-D map of terrain to guide the vehicle to a safe location. As an automated rendezvous and docking sensor, the flash lidar can provide relative range, velocity, and bearing from an approaching spacecraft to another spacecraft or a space station. NASA Langley Research Center has developed and demonstrated a flash lidar sensor system capable of generating 16k pixels range images with 7 cm precision, at a 20 Hz frame rate, from a maximum slant range of 1800 m from the target area. This paper describes the lidar instrument and presents the results of recent flight tests onboard a rocket-propelled free-flyer vehicle (Morpheus) built by NASA Johnson Space Center. The flights were conducted at a simulated lunar terrain site, consisting of realistic hazard features and designated landing areas, built at NASA Kennedy Space Center specifically for this demonstration test. This paper also provides an overview of the plan for continued advancement of the flash lidar technology aimed at enhancing its performance to meet both landing and automated rendezvous and docking applications.
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Farzin Amzajerdian, Farzin Amzajerdian, Vincent E. Roback, Vincent E. Roback, Alexander E. Bulyshev, Alexander E. Bulyshev, Paul F. Brewster, Paul F. Brewster, William A. Carrion, William A. Carrion, Diego F. Pierrottet, Diego F. Pierrottet, Glenn D. Hines, Glenn D. Hines, Larry B. Petway, Larry B. Petway, Bruce W. Barnes, Bruce W. Barnes, Anna M. Noe, Anna M. Noe, "Imaging flash LIDAR for safe landing on solar system bodies and spacecraft rendezvous and docking", Proc. SPIE 9465, Laser Radar Technology and Applications XX; and Atmospheric Propagation XII, 946502 (19 May 2015); doi: 10.1117/12.2178410; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2178410

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