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data by first illuminating the relative scene with a wide-beam 1572
nm laser pulse and then collecting the reflected light on a 256 x
256 focal plane array. By clocking
the time between transmission
and reception, the focal plane
array can accurately measure the
distance to the reflected surface,
as well as the return intensity, at a
rate of up to 30 Hz.
Five days after launch, Raven
was removed from the unpres-surized “trunk” of the SpaceX
Dragon spacecraft by the Dextre
robotic arm, and attached on a
payload platform outside the ISS.
Here, Raven provides information for the development of a mature real-time relative navigation system.
“Two spacecraft autonomously rendezvous-
ing is crucial for many future NASA missions
and Raven is maturing this never-before-at-
tempted technology,” said Ben Reed, deputy
division director, for the Satellite Servicing
Projects Division (SSPD) at NASA’s Goddard
Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland
— the office developing and managing this
While on the ISS, Raven’s components will gather images and
track incoming and outgoing visiting space station spacecraft. Raven’s sensors will feed images to
a processor, which will use special pose algorithms to gauge the
relative distance between Raven
and the spacecraft it is tracking.
Based on these calculations, the
processor will send commands
that swivel Raven on its gimbal to
keep the sensors trained on the vehicle, while continuing to track it.
During this, NASA operators on
the ground will evaluate the Raven’s capabilities and make adjustments to increase performance.
Over two years, Raven will test these technologies, which are expected to support future
NASA missions for decades to come.
View a technical paper on Raven at http://