2016.B.4.3. UB-SPACE: CubeSat Image Acquisition for Autonomous Navigation and Docking Applications


Amina Zaghdane (1)
Maren Hülsmann (1)
Lars Flemnitz (1)
Marco Braschkies (1)
Oliver Dom (2)

  1. University of Bremen, Germany
  2. City University of Applied Science Bremen, Germany




Space Debris, Autonomous Navigation, Image Processing, REXUS


UB-SPACE (Image Processing for Determination of relative Satellite Motion) is a sounding rocket experiment in course of the REXUS programme, which shall provide images and data processed for camera-based autonomous navigation of space vehicles. The experiment is conducted by students of the University of Bremen and the City University of Applied Science Bremen and is supported by the GNC Department of the Institute of Space Systems of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Bremen.

The REXUS/BEXUS programme is realised under a bilateral Agency Agreement between the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Swedish National Space Board (SNSB). The Swedish share of the payload has been made available to students from other European countries through the collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA).

Experts from DLR, SSC, ZARM and ESA provide technical support to the student teams throughout the project. EuroLaunch, the cooperation between the Esrange Space Center of SSC and the Mobile Rocket Base (MORABA) of DLR, is responsible for the campaign management and operations of the launch vehicles.

Space debris is a growing challenge in space flight. Yet, no promising solution has been implemented to remove the amount of debris surrounding our planet.
By using systems which are able to navigate autonomously, it is possible to realise a camera-based detection and removal of space debris, such as defective satellites. To enable an optimal preparation for these systems, images of the approach of uncooperative objects in realistic space environment, as well as related data that describe the motion of the objects are essential.

To this day mainly visualisations are used for this purpose since real images are rare and not freely accessible.

Through our experiment we want to provide such series of images, showing the approach of a satellite. Therefore, a CubeSat is ejected and will be observed from the rocket via 360° camera view. In addition, motion data from the CubeSat will be sent to the rocket module. By means of image processing the relative motion of the satellites can be determined.

The recorded images, the measured data and the reconstructed relative motion will be published. The resulting data could be of interest for diverse CubeSat related applications where images of CubeSats in realistic space environment are required, such as autonomous navigation and docking.



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