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Imaging Flash Lidar for Autonomous Safe Landing and Spacecraft Proximity Operation3-D Imaging flash lidar is recognized as a primary candidate sensor for safe precision landing on solar system bodies (Moon, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn moons, etc.), and autonomous rendezvous proximity operations and docking/capture necessary for asteroid sample return and redirect missions, spacecraft docking, satellite servicing, and space debris removal. 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 fli1ght 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 from several kilometers distance. 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 design and capabilities as demonstrated by the closed-loop flight tests onboard a rocket-propelled free-flyer vehicle (Morpheus). Then a plan for continued advancement of the flash lidar technology will be explained. This proposed plan is aimed at the development of a common sensor that with a modest design adjustment can meet the needs of both landing and proximity operation and docking applications.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Amzajerdian, Farzin (NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Roback, Vincent E. (NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Brewster, Paul F. (NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Hines, Glenn D. (NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Bulyshev, Alexander E. (Analytical Mechanics Associates, Inc. Hampton, VA, United States)
Date Acquired
September 30, 2016
Publication Date
September 13, 2016
Subject Category
Lasers and Masers
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
AIAA Space 2016 Conference(Long Beach, CA)
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 477547.01.01.23
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.

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