Autonomous GNC strategy for an asteroid impactor mission


The Solar System features thousands of Near-Earth Asteroids that could be at collision risk with our planet in the future. Scientists are investigating the possibility of deflecting asteroids from their trajectory by means of a hyper-velocity impactor spacecraft. The aim of this research is to develop and simulate a GNC strategy to control the spacecraft towards its impact with the asteroid. The navigation is based on the use of a camera to estimate the relative position through image analysis and a filtering process. A zero-effort error strategy is adopted for the control. A simulator has been developed to render the simulated images online and test the GNC algorithms. The simulator is used to assess the performance of the strategy on different scenarios and to perform a sensitivity analysis with respect to the environmental and design parameters.

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The authors would like to acknowledge the support provided by C. Colombo, E. Vellutini, M. Castronuovo, M. Albano, R. Bertacin, A. Gabrielli, E. Perozzi and G. Valsecchi for the definition of the test case scenario.

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Correspondence to Giovanni Purpura.

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Purpura, G., Di Lizia, P. Autonomous GNC strategy for an asteroid impactor mission. CEAS Space J 13, 65–81 (2021).

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  • Asteroid
  • Deflection
  • Impactor
  • NEA
  • Guidance Navigation and Control