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Assessment Study of Autonomous Optical Navigation for an Asteroid Impact Mission

Programme Reference
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The Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM) is part of the Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA). The intention of AIDA is to send two spacecraft, AIM and Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) to the binary asteroid 65803 Didymos, to investigate the kinetic effects of crashing an impactor spacecraft into the smaller body of the binary asteroid, hereafter called Didymoon. The large body is called Didymain. Ultimately the mission hopes to test whether a spacecraft could successfully deflect an asteroid on collision course with Earth. The ambition of AIM is to arrive prior to the impact spacecraft and determine the binary asteroid dynamics and properties and evaluate the effect of the impact, by comparing the orbit characteristics both before and after the impact. In addition to the collision avoidance test, the project hope to advance our knowledge of the asteroid system and to demonstrate novel technologies including optical communication, landing a spacecraft on the asteroid and operate several CubeSats.

The ambition of this work is to assess the applicability and feasibility of a potential on-board fully autonomous visual based navigation sensors' system for a mission with the ESA's Asteroid Impact Mission profile. The activity covers the assessment of the mission's potential needs for, and benefits from, an on- board optical navigation sensors' suite, across all the mission phases. In addition, the activity covers the sensors' system's optimization and trade-offs analysis.

Executive summary