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International Journal of Aerospace Engineering
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 4535316, 13 pages
Research Article

Pose and Shape Reconstruction of a Noncooperative Spacecraft Using Camera and Range Measurements

1Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of Rome La Sapienza, Via Eudossiana 18, Rome, Italy
2Department of Astronautics, Electrical and Energetics Engineering, University of Rome La Sapienza, Via Salaria 851, Rome, Italy
3Scuola di Ingegneria Aerospaziale, University of Rome La Sapienza, Via Salaria 851, Rome, Italy

Correspondence should be addressed to Giovanni B. Palmerini

Received 28 April 2017; Accepted 3 July 2017; Published 28 August 2017

Academic Editor: Enrico C. Lorenzini

Copyright © 2017 Renato Volpe et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Recent interest in on-orbit proximity operations has pushed towards the development of autonomous GNC strategies. In this sense, optical navigation enables a wide variety of possibilities as it can provide information not only about the kinematic state but also about the shape of the observed object. Various mission architectures have been either tested in space or studied on Earth. The present study deals with on-orbit relative pose and shape estimation with the use of a monocular camera and a distance sensor. The goal is to develop a filter which estimates an observed satellite’s relative position, velocity, attitude, and angular velocity, along with its shape, with the measurements obtained by a camera and a distance sensor mounted on board a chaser which is on a relative trajectory around the target. The filter’s efficiency is proved with a simulation on a virtual target object. The results of the simulation, even though relevant to a simplified scenario, show that the estimation process is successful and can be considered a promising strategy for a correct and safe docking maneuver.