Testing GNC technologies for planetary landing on Mars and Moon analogues

Guizzo, G.P. and Bertoli, A. and Torre, A.D. and Magistrati, G. and Mailland, F. and Vukman, A. and Philippe, C. and Jurado, M.M. and Ori, G.G. and Macdonald, M. and Romberg, O. and Dedei, S. and Zaccariotto, M. (2007) Testing GNC technologies for planetary landing on Mars and Moon analogues. In: 2nd International Workshop on Exploring Mars and its Earth Analogues, 2007-06-01.

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In the frame of the ESA Aurora exploration program the precision landing on Mars and Moon is of strategic importance because the ability to land on sites with high scientific interest is not a straightforward task. From here the need to provide a dedicated test facility able to test GNC techniques and technologies both vision and LIDAR based in a realistic environment which is of paramount importance for the representatively of the real descent scenario seen by the GNC sensors, in real time and in a real scale. This is a fundamental step through which the planetary exploration will pass through in order to reduce the inherent risks associated to any landing mission. The ESA funded project named Precision Landing GNC Test Facility has been conceived with this purpose and it is successfully started; the test facility will emulate a real lander dynamics during the powered descent phase that is last part of the descent phase including landing. PLGTF is approaching to be the first ever-built facility with such a performances and it will be able to validate the entire GNC chain of a landing system. The first PLGTF implementation foresees the capability to validate the Navigation function of a GNC system including the sensor/s associated to it through the execution of predefined descent trajectories. Consequently it will be presented the first edition of the PLGTF focussing the attention to the validation of the navigation function of the ESA NPAL experiment. In a near future, an enhanced version of the PLGTF will enable to validate Guidance algorithms and Hazard Avoidance techniques through the execution of closed loop tests and consequently testing the precision landing and the pinpointing capabilities.