POINT CLOUD SIMULATOR FOR SPACE IN-ORBIT CLOSE RANGE AUTONOMOUS OPERATIONS
Keywords: LIDAR, Point Cloud, Aerospace, Rendezvous operations, on-orbit services, Pose tracking
Abstract. In recent years, many different in-orbit close-range autonomous operations have been developed for multiple purposes, such as rendezvous and docking operations or ADR operations. In both cases, the systems have to calculate the relative position between the spacecraft and the target in order to control the orbital manoeuvres and the physic interaction between both systems. One of the sensors used for the pose calculation for these operations are LiDAR sensors, developing pose calculation algorithms that process the point cloud acquired by these sensors. One of the main problems for the development and testing of these algorithms is the lack of real data acquired in orbit and the difficulty of acquiring this data. This makes it fundamental to develop a simulator to generate realistic point clouds that can be used to develop and test pose calculation algorithms. This work presents a simulator developed for this purpose, that is the generation of realistic point clouds for algorithm development for pose calculation using LiDAR sensors for space in-orbit close range autonomous operations. The simulator uses the LiDAR sensor specifications, in order to introduces measurement errors and the scanning pattern, and 3D model of the satellite or object that is scanned.