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Paper

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In modern aerospace applications, the autonomous monitoring of a craft’s motion during the EDL stage of an interplanetary mission has become increasingly important for the mission’s success. Descent tracking data can be used to trigger an autonomous craft’s recovery events, adjust a craft’s descent trajectory, map the topology of a planetary body’s surface, or verify the success of a mission. This paper investigates the reliability and robustness of a descent tracking system that incorporates data collected from both a Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) module and Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU). An apparatus has been developed and tested which implements the proposed system and demonstrates its accuracy and usefulness. The LIDAR data is utilized to continuously record the tested vehicle’s distance from a surface with high resolution. IMU acceleration data provides valuable information regarding the dynamics of the craft during its EDL stage (e.g. parachute deployments, landing impact). The studies in this paper suggest that this sensor suite and its associated software allow for closed-loop, real-time, autonomous control.

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The application of LIDAR and IMU data to monitor an aerospace craft’s entry, descent, and landing on a planetary body’s surface.

In modern aerospace applications, the autonomous monitoring of a craft’s motion during the EDL stage of an interplanetary mission has become increasingly important for the mission’s success. Descent tracking data can be used to trigger an autonomous craft’s recovery events, adjust a craft’s descent trajectory, map the topology of a planetary body’s surface, or verify the success of a mission. This paper investigates the reliability and robustness of a descent tracking system that incorporates data collected from both a Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) module and Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU). An apparatus has been developed and tested which implements the proposed system and demonstrates its accuracy and usefulness. The LIDAR data is utilized to continuously record the tested vehicle’s distance from a surface with high resolution. IMU acceleration data provides valuable information regarding the dynamics of the craft during its EDL stage (e.g. parachute deployments, landing impact). The studies in this paper suggest that this sensor suite and its associated software allow for closed-loop, real-time, autonomous control.