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Optimal Data Fusion for Relative Pose Estimation for Uncooperative Targets

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Lorenzo Pasqualetto Cassinis
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The estimation of the relative pose of an inactive spacecraft by an active servicer spacecraft is a critical task for close-proximity operations, such as In-Orbit Servicing and Active Debris Removal. Among all the challenges, the lack of available space images of the inactive satellite makes the on-ground validation of current monocular camera-based navigation systems a challenging task, mostly due to the fact that standard Image Processing (IP) algorithms, which are usually tested on synthetic images, tend to fail when implemented in orbit. In response to this need to guarantee a reliable validation of pose estimation systems, this paper presents the most recent advances of ESA's GNC Rendezvous, Approach and Landing Simulator (GRALS) testbed for close-proximity operations around uncooperative spacecraft. The proposed testbed is used to validate a Convo-lutional Neural Network (CNN)-based monocular pose estimation system on representative rendezvous scenarios with special focus on solving the domain shift problem which characterizes CNNs trained on synthetic datasets when tested on more realistic imagery. The validation of the proposed system is en