Cedric Cocaud and Takashi Kubota
As space agencies are currently looking at Near Earth Asteroids as a next step on their exploration roadmap, high precision autonomous landing control schemes will be required for upcoming missions. In this paper, an intelligent simulator is proposed to reproduce all of the visual and dynamic aspects required to test an autonomous Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) system. The proposed simulator provides position and attitude information to a spacecraft during its approach descent and Landing phase toward the surface of an asteroid or other small celestial bodies. Because the SLAM system makes use of navigation cameras and a range sensor moving with the spacecraft as it approaches the surface, the simulator is also developed to reproduce a fully integrated 3D environment using computer graphics technology that mimics the noise, image detail and real-time performances of the navigation cameras and the range sensors. This paper describes the architecture and capability of the developed simulator and the SLAM system for which it is designed. The developed simulator is evaluated by using the specifications of the onboard sensors used in the Hayabusa spacecraft sent by JAXA/ISAS to the Itokawa asteroid in 2003.
Keywords: simulator, computer graphics, SLAM, visual navigation, small body exploration