This IRAD proposes to mature GSFC’s current capabilities in both ground-based and autonomous optical navigation (OpNav) and Terrain Relative Navigation (TRN) using a collaboration with Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab (APL). Sensor data from APL’s New Horizons and MESSENGER missions will be processed in a similar ground navigation pipeline as was used for the independent validation and verification (IV&V) on the OSIRIS-REx mission, and compared with APL’s operational navigation for those missions. The main objectives of this project are twofold, (1) the technology maturation and risk reduction of GSFC’s state-of-the-art tool for performing OpNav and TRN: Goddard Image Analysis and Navigation Tool (GIANT), and (2) to provide a set of baseline planetary navigation results for future validation of onboard autonomous navigation technologies. OpNav is the process of capturing images of celestial targets (planets, small bodies, natural satellites) against a star background, while the targets are distant and only occupy a small number of pixels in an image. Terrain Relative Navigation (TRN) uses images of terrain on the surface of celestial targets, where the target fills a significant fraction of the FOV. Surface features in the images are correlated with a priori maps (e.g. previously collected images or derived digital terrain models (DTMs)), resulting in line-of-sight measurements. This IRAD is funding software development and ground system simulations taking place at Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, MD.More »
This IRAD will improve existing GSFC capabilities for ground-based OpNav and TRN, and serve as a precursor to autonomous navigation, both of which are needed to enable future NASA-led missions to celestial bodies such as asteroids, comets, and planetary moons. The Goddard Image Analysis and Navigation Tool (GIANT) was recently released as open source to the public, therefore this IRAD will further serve to validate and improve this publicly-available tool to other stakeholders (industry, academia) interested in deep-space exploration.More »
|Organizations Performing Work||Role||Type||Location|
|Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC)||Lead Organization||NASA Center||Greenbelt, Maryland|
|Johns Hopkins University: Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL)||Supporting Organization||R&D Center||Laurel, Maryland|
We successfully developed a procedure to ingest MESSENGER images into GIANT, which used a non-standard image format. We also successfully developed new software to process the global 665-m digital elevation model of Mercury and generate surface feature landmarks to process into GIANT. During the process of developing this software and analyzing the MESSENGER data, several bugs were identified and corrected in GIANT. We generated line-of-sight bearing measurements to a set of landmarks during the 1st Mercury flyby and for the first month in the science orbit phase at Mercury, which, when compared with predictions using the best-available reconstructed ephemeris and camera pointing, showed sub-pixel noise.
The purpose of the Goddard Space Flight Center’s Internal Research and Development (IRAD) program is to support new technology development and to address scientific challenges. Each year, Principal Investigators (PIs) submit IRAD proposals and compete for funding for their development projects. Goddard’s IRAD program supports eight Lines of Business: Astrophysics; Communications and Navigation; Cross-Cutting Technology and Capabilities; Earth Science; Heliophysics; Planetary Science; Science Small Satellites Technology; and Suborbital Platforms and Range Services.
Task progress is evaluated twice a year at the Mid-term IRAD review and the end of the year. When the funding period has ended, the PIs compete again for IRAD funding or seek new sources of development and research funding, or agree to external partnerships and collaborations. In some cases, when the development work has reached the appropriate Technology Readiness Level (TRL) level, the product is integrated into an actual NASA mission or used to support other government agencies. The technology may also be licensed out to the industry.
The completion of a project does not necessarily indicate that the development work has stopped. The work could potentially continue in the future as a follow-on IRAD; or be used in collaboration or partnership with Academia, Industry, and other Government Agencies.
If you are interested in partnering with NASA, see the TechPort Partnerships documentation available on the TechPort Help tab. http://techport.nasa.gov/help