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Proceedings Paper

Mini AERCam: development of a free-flying nanosatellite inspection robot
Author(s): Steven E. Fredrickson; Larry W. Abbott; Steve Duran; J. David Jochim; J. William Studak; Jennifer D. Wagenknecht; Nichole M. Williams
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Paper Abstract

The Engineering Directorate of NASA Johnson Space Center has developed a nanosatellite-class free-flyer intended for future external inspection and remote viewing of human spaceflight activities, including International Space Station (ISS) operations. The Miniature Autonomous Extravehicular Robotic Camera (Mini AERCam) technology demonstration unit has been integrated into the approximate form and function of a flight system. The spherical Mini AERCam free flyer is 7.5 inches in diameter and weighs approximately 10 pounds, yet it incorporates significant additional capabilities compared to the 35 pound, 14 inch AERCam Sprint that flew as a Shuttle flight experiment in 1997. Mini AERCam hosts a full suite of miniaturized avionics, instrumentation, communications, navigation, imaging, power, and propulsion subsystems, including two digital video cameras and a high resolution still image camera. The vehicle is designed for either remotely piloted operations or supervised autonomous operations including automatic stationkeeping and point-to-point maneuvering. Free-flyer testing has been conducted on an air-bearing table and in a six degree-of-freedom closed-loop orbital simulation. The orbital simulation models the three-dimensional dynamics of the free-flyer in proximity to the ISS, and produces corresponding God's eye views and simulated free-flyer camera views. A high-fidelity simulation is achieved by directly interfacing to free-flyer thruster driver signals, emulating the MEMS gyro responses in hardware, and using the "truth" state to drive a GPS signal generator connected to the free-flyer GPS receiver.

Paper Details

Date Published: 5 August 2003
PDF: 15 pages
Proc. SPIE 5088, Space Systems Technology and Operations, (5 August 2003); doi: 10.1117/12.498108
Show Author Affiliations
Steven E. Fredrickson, NASA Johnson Space Ctr. (United States)
Larry W. Abbott, NASA Johnson Space Ctr (United States)
Steve Duran, NASA Johnson Space Ctr. (United States)
J. David Jochim, NASA Johnson Space Ctr. (United States)
J. William Studak, NASA Johnson Space Ctr. (United States)
Jennifer D. Wagenknecht, NASA Johnson Space Ctr. (United States)
Nichole M. Williams, NASA Johnson Space Ctr. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5088:
Space Systems Technology and Operations
Peter Tchoryk; James Shoemaker, Editor(s)

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