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Application of a Laser Rangefinder for Space Object Imaging and Shape Reconstruction

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Conference Paper

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Space and Missile Systems Center Space Development and Test Directorate Albuquerque United States

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This paper addresses the feasibility of using point clouds generated with a single-beam laser rangefinder LRF to reconstruct the three-dimensional shape of an unknown Resident Space Object RSO, employing a combination of relative motion between the chaser and the RSO and chaser attitude motion. The first step in the analysis is the application of both an LRF and a scanning LIDAR to image and reconstruct the shape of a tri-axial ellipsoid of diffuse constant reflectivity. A single beam LRF, and a multi-beam scanning LIDAR are simulated. Next, the techniques designed above are applied to the imaging of a Resident Space Object RSO in the shape of generic telecommunications satellite. Various inclination and attitude maneuver test cases are explored to obtain a desired level of LRF point cloud density. The study concludes that, for error-free measurements, the LRF can effectively create sufficiently dense point clouds for various asteroid and satellite shaped SOs, with low propellant consumption, by exploiting a designed combination of Keplerian and attitude motion. Finally, the technique is further tested through inclusion of two sensor error models. Results will be applied to ARAPAIMA, a nanosatellite mission funded under the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research University Nanosat Program UNP Cycle 8.

Subject Categories:

  • Unmanned Spacecraft
  • Spacecraft Trajectories and Reentry
  • Military Intelligence

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