Active Sensors & LiDAR
Neptec’s TriDAR was specifically designed for non-cooperative missions such as satellite servicing which require high levels of autonomy. The sensor hardware and algorithms were designed to provide maximum operational flexibility for such missions. This allows the sensor to be adapted to rendezvous and dock to different targets and approach profiles even after launch. The technology has been demonstrated in many laboratories around the world and tested on three Space Shuttle missions. It now serves as a primary rendezvous and docking sensor for the Cygnus spacecraft for cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station (ISS). TriDAR is offered with an optional thermal imager to provide extended range tracking and short range guidance.
Image credit NASA
Image credit NASA
LASER CAMERA SYSTEM (LCS)
Neptec’s Laser Camera System (LCS) is a high-precision autosynchronous triangulation laser scanner designed to perform on-orbit 3D inspections of spacecraft surfaces at ranges of one to three meters. The LCS was part of NASA’s standard shuttle manifest and after 2003 was a mandatory system on every shuttle mission. It was used to scan the spacecraft’s thermal protection system in support of the assessment and precision damage inspection process required for clearance to land the shuttle.
HAWKEYE LASER RANGEFINDER
Hawkeye is a LiDAR-based range finder qualified for use in geosynchronous orbit (GEO). It is specifically designed to provide satellites in formation flying applications with ranging and situational awareness information on surrounding objects including space vehicles, satellites and debris. Its compact form factor is particularly suited to small satellites. Weighing less than 3 kg and consuming as little as 2.2 W, this sensor has an operational range in excess of 30 km.
LiDAR for Extra-terrestrial Imaging Applications (LEIA)
LEIA (LiDAR for Extra-terrestrial Imaging Applications) will be Neptec’s first LiDAR qualified for operation in high Earth orbit. LEIA will feature low mass and volume and a range of 1500 meters. It is a critical component of ESA’s autonomous landing navigation system called PILOT and will be integrated to the Luna Resource-1 Lander for the Luna 27 mission expected in 2021. LEIA will map the surface of the south polar region of the Moon during the lander’s descent in order to locate a suitable landing area for the vehicle.
LINIS 360 LiDAR
Neptec, in partnership with the CSA, developed the LiNIS 360 scanning LiDAR to provide situational awareness, mapping and hazard avoidance in planetary rover applications. Using Neptec’s patented spinning design, the sensor is able to rapidly scan a 360° by 45° (elevation) field of view. Through the use of two scanning regimes, the sensor can gather measurements at 200 kHz, which corresponds to a maximum range of 200 m and provides detailed mapping information of the immediate surroundings. Alternatively, the 25 kHz acquisition rate yields a maximum range of 1 km and provides information appropriate to maintaining situational awareness and hazard avoidance. A hybrid acquisition mode is also available that employs a phase-shifted high scan rate that evolves over time to fill gaps left in previous passes.