ESA Uses Robotic Arm to Test Double Asteroid Landing
ESA has used a robotic arm to simulate a spacecraft's final approach to an asteroid. The laboratory test, which took place recently at the Madrid headquarters of Spain's GMV Innovating Solutions company, is part of the preparation for the proposed Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM), which would be man's first visit to a double asteroid system. The simulation involved a model asteroid and a real spacecraft's navigation camera mounted on a robotic arm that was controlled by dedicated navigation software. In 2020, the proposed Asteroid Impact Mission would find its way across deep space using star trackers and radio ranging. Once it rendezvouses with the two Didymos asteroids, would come the real challenge - navigating around this environment to close in on the smaller of the bodies, to perform close-range observations and put down a lander. By including an actual navigation camera, the testing team was able to maximize the realism and fidelity of their simulation.