CNN-based image processing algorithm for autonomous optical navigation of Hera mission to the binary asteroid Didymos

Aurelio Kaluthantrige, Jinglang Feng, Jesús Gil-Fernández

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Hera mission is the European Space Agency’s contribution to the international collaboration with NASA for the planetary defence, i.e. Asteroid Impact Deflection Assessment aiming to deflect the trajectory of its target binary asteroid system (65803) Didymos. The Early Characterization Phase and the Detailed Characterization Phase of Hera mission are two phases of the proximity operations with the objective to physically and dynamically characterize Didymos. During these phases, an Image Processing algorithm is required to estimate the position of the centroid of the primary to enable Line of Sight navigation. However, the performance of standard Image Processing algorithms is affected by the disturbances of the image, such as poor illumination conditions, the presence of external bodies and the irregular shape of the target. This research addresses this challenge by developing a robust Convolutional Neural Networks-based Image Processing algorithm to estimate the position of the centroids of Didymos and its moon Dimorphos, the pseudorange from the primary and the Sun phase angle. The training, validation and testing datasets are generated with the software Planet and Asteroid Natural scene Generation Utility using the Early Characterization Phase and the Detailed Characterization Phase trajectories as case scenario. The position in the image of the centroids of Didymos and Dimorphos is estimated using their respective position vectors. To estimate the pseudorange, the developed algorithm regresses a set of keypoints on the visible border of Didymos and evaluates its apparent radius. For the Sun phase angle, the pixel position of the subsolar point of the primary is leveraged. The High-Resolution Network is the Convolutional Neural Network architecture applied to detect keypoints with superior spatial precision. Even with the considered disturbances, the analysis shows that the proposed algorithm is able to provide an accurate estimation of the mentioned outputs for all the Early Characterization Phase trajectory and for 77.33% of the Detailed Characterization Phase trajectory, improving the robustness and autonomy of the mission navigation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-75
Number of pages16
JournalActa Astronautica
Volume211
Early online date23 May 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2023

Keywords

  • image processing
  • convolutional neural networks
  • autonomous optical navigation
  • binary asteroid system
  • Hera mission
  • Asteroid Impact Deflection Assessment (AIDA)

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