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Duration: 18 months (Starting date: September 2010)
Status: Ongoing
Project Contact:
Rita Ribeiro

ESA / ESTEC (UNINOVA is a subcontractor of DEIMOS Engenharia)

Project Picture:
Courtesy of Astrium

LuLaB - Lunar Lander Phase-B1 - Current Research Projects
Project Summary
The main objective of Lunar Lander Phase B1 is aiming to consolidate the first European Lunar Lander mission and spacecraft design to a level of detail that allows starting the follow-on procurement phases and finally launch the first European Lunar Lander no later than 2018. This mission will demonstrate exploration of key technologies required for the autonomous, soft and precision landing with hazard detection and avoidance, i.e.
  • Real time image based navigation techniques for precision descent and landing from orbit to touchdown;
  • Autonomous surface hazard assessment & safe site selection;
  • Use of near term qualified propulsion technology, applying non throttleable, fixed mounted engines.
Soft and precision landing is a key enabling exploration technology. The descent and landing strategy proposed for this mission is a synthesis of the strategies developed in the preceding precursor and mission feasibility studies, and are optimized in order to reach the following, sometimes conflicting, objectives:
  • minimum fuel consumption
  • required landing precision
  • maximum divert range
  • specified touchdown conditions
  • specified navigation performance
  • provide best possible viewing conditions for hazard avoidance
Hazard Detection and Avoidance starts at 100 seconds prior to the planned touchdown with an evaluation of the initially selected landing area. The risk mapping combines Lidar and CCD camera images for shadow maps, slope maps and roughness map.

Selection of a safe site is made by a combined evaluation of the risk maps and the current divert range of the lander at that time. A second and final site evaluation is planned at low altitude, allowing the detection of hazards down to the threshold size of 50 cm. For hazard avoidance, horizontal divert maneuvers are planned in real time at arrival of the site selection decision.

In the base project (IPSIS), UNINOVA has developed innovative autonomous decision making software for safe landing site selection during an interplanetary landing. IPSIS was a complex decision model enhanced with artificial intelligence techniques which adhered to the tight computational budget allowed by the on-board processor. The decision model was based on fuzzy multi-criteria concepts and techniques. In LuLaB, UNINOVA is responsible for analyzing the HDA system requirements and impact on the decision process, reusing IPSIS background as starting point.

Research Areas
  • Fuzzy multi-criteria decision model
  • Aggregation operators
  • Evolutionary computing
  • Safe landing site selection
Relevant Publications
Bourdarias, C., Da-Cunha, P., Drai, R., Simões, L. F., and Ribeiro, R. A. (2010). Optimized and flexible multi-criteria decision making for hazard avoidance. In Proceedings of the 33rd Annual AAS Rocky Mountain Guidance and Control Conference, Breckenridge, Colorado. American Astronautical Society. [ bib | .pdf ]

Reynaud, S., Drieux, M., Bourdarias, C., Philippe, C., Simões, L. F., and Pham, B. V. (2009). Science driven autonomous navigation for safe planetary pin-point landing. In 3rd European Conference for Aero-Space Sciences (EUCASS 2009), Versailles, France. EUCASS2009-148. [ bib | .pdf ]

Devouassoux, Y., Reynaud, S., Jonniaux, G., Ribeiro, R. A., and Pais, T. C. (2008). Hazard avoidance developments for planetary exploration. In GNC 2008: 7th International ESA Conference on Guidance, Navigation & Control Systems.

Pais, T. C., Ribeiro, R. A., Devouassoux, Y., and Reynaud, S. (2008). Dynamic ranking algorithm for landing site selection. In Magdalena, L., Ojeda-Aciego, M., and Verdegay, J. L., editors, Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Information Processing and Management of Uncertainty in Knowledge-Base Systems (IPMU), pages 608-613.

  • LuLaB is a continuation of the works developed in IMPACTED and IPSIS.
  • BBC News Report
  • Lunar Lander Project, ESA
  • Lunar Lander Project, EADS
  • An animation illustrating the different steps of Lunar Lander mission, by Astrium