Visual Tracking and Motion Estimation for an On-orbit Servicing of a Satellite

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Title: Visual Tracking and Motion Estimation for an On-orbit Servicing of a Satellite
Authors: Oumer, Nassir Workicho
Thesis advisor: Prof.Dr. Peter Reinartz
Thesis referee: Prof.Dr. Manfred Ehlers
Abstract: This thesis addresses visual tracking of a non-cooperative as well as a partially cooperative satellite, to enable close-range rendezvous between a servicer and a target satellite. Visual tracking and estimation of relative motion between a servicer and a target satellite are critical abilities for rendezvous and proximity operation such as repairing and deorbiting. For this purpose, Lidar has been widely employed in cooperative rendezvous and docking missions. Despite its robustness to harsh space illumination, Lidar has high weight and rotating parts and consumes more power, thus undermines the stringent requirements of a satellite design. On the other hand, inexpensive on-board cameras can provide an effective solution, working at a wide range of distances. However, conditions of space lighting are particularly challenging for image based tracking algorithms, because of the direct sunlight exposure, and due to the glossy surface of the satellite that creates strong reflection and image saturation, which leads to difficulties in tracking procedures. In order to address these difficulties, the relevant literature is examined in the fields of computer vision, and satellite rendezvous and docking. Two classes of problems are identified and relevant solutions, implemented on a standard computer are provided. Firstly, in the absence of a geometric model of the satellite, the thesis presents a robust feature-based method with prediction capability in case of insufficient features, relying on a point-wise motion model. Secondly, we employ a robust model-based hierarchical position localization method to handle change of image features along a range of distances, and localize an attitude-controlled (partially cooperative) satellite. Moreover, the thesis presents a pose tracking method addressing ambiguities in edge-matching, and a pose detection algorithm based on appearance model learning. For the validation of the methods, real camera images and ground truth data, generated with a laboratory tet bed similar to space conditions are used. The experimental results indicate that camera based methods provide robust and accurate tracking for the approach of malfunctioning satellites in spite of the difficulties associated with specularities and direct sunlight. Also exceptional lighting conditions associated to the sun angle are discussed, aimed at achieving fully reliable localization system in a certain mission.
URL: https://repositorium.ub.uni-osnabrueck.de/handle/urn:nbn:de:gbv:700-2016092815002
Subject Keywords: visual Tracking; satellite servicing; model-based tracking; Model-free tracking; non-cooperative satellite; motion estimation
Issue Date: 28-Sep-2016
License name: Namensnennung-NichtKommerziell-KeineBearbeitung 3.0 Unported
License url: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/
Type of publication: Dissertation oder Habilitation [doctoralThesis]
Appears in Collections:FB06 - E-Dissertationen

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