HARVD: High-integrity, Autonomous, multi-range RendezVous and Docking

HARVD VRML Satellite Model

HARVD VRML Satellite Model

The overall objective of the HARVD (High-integrity, Autonomous, multi-range RendezVous & Docking) study is to develop a European capability for autonomous orbital rendezvous and docking. The detailed design of a high-integrity, autonomous, multi-range, rendezvous and docking control system is being developed for future solar system exploration missions. A demonstration system including the onboard GNC hardware and software components is being developed. Its real-time performance and autonomous operation is being evaluated covering far-field to terminal rendezvous. Two types of mission are being examined: planetary sample return and associated rendezvous of return capsule with orbiting Earth return vehicle, and in-orbit servicing of both cooperative and non-cooperative spacecraft.

HARVD model in PANGU viewer

HARVD model in PANGU viewer

The study is being led by Astrium SAS. The University of Dundee is responsible for enhancing the PANGU scene generator software to simulate realistic images of 3D spacecraft in rendezvous conditions (target spacecraft), so that the vision-based rendezvous simulator can be fed with the appropriate test inputs. The principal tasks being done by University of Dundee are to upgrade the PANGU software to:

  • Allow 3D spacecraft numerical models to be visualised within the PANGU software;
  • Deal with the reflectance properties of spacecraft materials (solar arrays, thermal coating, etc.);
  • Handle changing lighting conditions and dynamic shadows.

At present PANGU is being used to help evaluate image-processing algorithms for use in the HARVD project. A utility to convert the geometry of a VRML satellite model from the CATIA CAD application (see first image) into the native PANGU file format (see second image) has been created. A new dynamic shadowing system for spacecraft has been implemented, and the ability to render reflective planar surfaces has been introduced.

Test image sequences of a rendezvous with a satellite, using a satellite model and trajectory provided by Astrium, are being used by researchers at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven to evaluate image-processing algorithms.

( Satellite models: Astrium SAS )