The critical combination of robotics dynamic contact and guidance, navigation, and control (GNC) have become an increasingly important aspect of European space missions. Capture of uncooperative targets for Active Debris Removal (in the framework of Clean Space initiative) as well as landing and sampling on low-gravity bodies such as comets, asteroids and small moons present such combination. To support the development of existing and upcoming missions as well as R&D activities in these high-visibility, technological fields, the need for upgrading the verification capabilities of the Automation and Robotics (A&R) laboratory to better accommodate robotics and GNC activities has become apparent.
Enabling Space Exploration and Planetary Science
Robotics is a fascinating subject, enabling a lot of interesting research activities. However it is important to understand that for ESA robots are just a convenient tool to operate scientific payloads on space environments, thereby facilitating ESA’s goals in space science and exploration. ESA’s Orbital Robotics Lab services focus on proving that a robot and its scientific payload can work as an effective means of scientific investigation/exploration.