Terrain Relative Navigation (TRN) System for Landing Applications [SPLICE subsystem]

PI: Matt Fritz, Draper Laboratory Inc.

Terrain relative navigation is a necessary technology for precise vehicle navigation relative to a planetary body where GPS or ground updates are not readily available. The algorithms associated with the technology has existed for decades with multiple terrestrial applications demonstrated. However, operational TRN space rated systems are limited. The proposed system is intended to serve as a viable, agency owned TRN space system. The terrain relative navigation system will provide vehicle POSE measurement information relative to the surface of a planetary body provided a set of features. The application is intended to be extendable to any landing application with available feature maps (TRL: 4/5).

Technology Areas (?)
  • TA09 Entry, Descent and Landing Systems
Problem Statement

The TRN system test apparatus is a self-contained, strapdown unit approximately 18”x12”x9” weighing ~4kg. Hardware includes an onboard BRIX computer, battery, sensor board (IMU, magnetometer, altimeter) and the optical camera. There are no required external interfaces. Telemetry will be available via onboard logging and broadcasted signal. Demonstrate capability of system to identify and provide accurate measurements of a set of known surface fixed features dependent on the current vehicle state. Demonstrate robustness of algorithm at various altitudes and light conditions (shadowing) via terrestrial flight testing on multiple vehicles.

Technology Maturation

Test flight will demonstrate the capability of the system to fill an agency need. In addition, information gathered will allow for further hardware and algorithm evaluation which is likely to result in updates targeting increased accuracy of estimated vehicle state. (TRL: 6)

Future Customers

Any Terrestrial and Extraterrestrial Landing Applications / Vehicles

Technology Details

  • Selection Date
    NASA Directed
  • Program Status
  • Current TRL (?)
    Successful FOP Flights
  • 1 sRLV

Development Team

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