3-D flash cameras destined to meet carbonaceous asteroid

3-D flash light detection and ranging (lidar) cameras developed by Advanced Scientific Concepts (ASC; Santa Barbara, CA, USA) have been chosen for the OSIRIS-REx planetary science mission that will return a sample of a carbonaceous asteroid to Earth in 2016.

3D flash camera destined to meet carbonaceous asteroid
3D flash camera destined to meet carbonaceous asteroid

3-D flash light detection and ranging (lidar) cameras developed by Advanced Scientific Concepts (ASC; Santa Barbara, CA, USA) have been chosen for the OSIRIS-REx planetary science mission that will return a sample of a carbonaceous asteroid to Earth in 2016.

3-D Flash lidar cameras operate and appear very much like 2-D digital cameras. The sensors in the cameras have rows and columns of pixels similar to 2-D digital cameras, but are also able to measure depth and intensity.

To do so, a pulsed laser illuminates the objects in front of the sensor. The reflected light is collected by the array of pixels, each of which samples the incoming photon stream and images depth and location, as well as reflective intensity. Each pixel has independent triggers and counters to record the time-of-flight of the laser light pulse to an object.

The lidar cameras will be used by the spacecraft’s guidance navigation and control systems to determine the spacecraft range to the surface of the so-called 1999 RQ36 asteroid as well as evaluating its approach to potential sample sites.

“The OSIRIS-REx sample return mission is of major importance in revealing the origin of volatiles and organics that led to life on Earth. Being able to accurately range to the asteroid surface allows us to monitor the target profile and ensure that we are on a safe approach trajectory, with the possibility of multiple approaches if necessary,” says University of Arizona’s (Tucson, AZ, USA) Professor Dante Lauretta, the principal investigator overseeing the mission.

-- by Dave Wilson, Senior Editor, Vision Systems Design

More in Home