Seeker-based adaptive guidance via reinforcement meta-learning applied to asteroid close proximity operations

Brian Gaudet, Richard Linares, Roberto Furfaro

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Current practice for asteroid close proximity maneuvers requires extremely accurate characterization of the environmental dynamics and precise spacecraft positioning prior to the maneuver. This creates a delay of several months between the spacecraft’s arrival and the ability to safely complete close proximity maneuvers. In this work we develop an adaptive integrated guidance, navigation, and control system that can complete these maneuvers in environments with unknown dynamics, with initial conditions spanning a large deployment region, and without a shape model of the asteroid. The system is implemented as a policy optimized using reinforcement meta-learning. The spacecraft is equipped with an optical seeker that locks to either a terrain feature, reflected light from a targeting laser, or an active beacon, and the policy maps observations consisting of seeker angles and LIDAR range readings directly to engine thrust commands. The policy implements a recurrent network layer that allows the deployed policy to adapt real time to both environmental forces acting on the agent and internal disturbances such as actuator failure and center of mass variation. We validate the guidance system through simulated landing maneuvers in a six degrees-of-freedom simulator. The simulator randomizes the asteroid’s characteristics such as solar radiation pressure, density, spin rate, and nutation angle, requiring the guidance and control system to adapt to the environment. We also demonstrate robustness to actuator failure, sensor bias, and changes in the spacecraft’s center of mass and inertia tensor. Finally, we suggest a concept of operations for asteroid close proximity maneuvers that is compatible with the guidance system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAAS/AIAA Astrodynamics Specialist Conference, 2019
EditorsKenneth R. Horneman, Christopher Scott, Brian W. Hansen, Islam I. Hussein
PublisherUnivelt Inc.
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9780877036654
StatePublished - 2020
EventAAS/AIAA Astrodynamics Specialist Conference, 2019 - Portland, United States
Duration: Aug 11 2019Aug 15 2019

Publication series

NameAdvances in the Astronautical Sciences
ISSN (Print)0065-3438


ConferenceAAS/AIAA Astrodynamics Specialist Conference, 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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