Two key trends are revolutionizing the way humans conduct spaceflight, namely, the miniaturization of satellites (e.g., micro- and nano-satellites) and the distribution of payload tasks among multiple coordinated units (e.g., formation-flying, on-orbit servicing, fractionation, swarms). The combination of these approaches promises breakthroughs in space science (e.g., imaging of earth-like planets, characterization of gravitational waves), remote sensing (e.g., synthetic aperture radar interferometry, aeronomy, gravimetry), and space exploration (e.g., lifetime extension, assembly of structures, space debris removal). Irrespective of the specific application, future miniature distributed space missions require a high level of autonomy to maintain and reconfigure the relative motion of the participating vehicles within the prescribed accuracy and range of operations. Especially on small spacecraft, these requirements are hard to meet due to the limited resources, and the chief goal of current research and development is to pave the way for the autonomous Guidance, Navigation, & Control (GN&C) of "self-driving nanosatellites."
Leveraging the presenter's experience and contributions to recent satellite formation-flying and rendezvous missions in low earth orbit (TanDEM-X, Prisma, Biros), this presentation addresses the navigation algorithms under developments to enable a new class of miniature distributed space instruments (Starling, Visors, Swarm-Ex). The focus will be on autonomous vision-based and radio-frequency spaceborne absolute and relative navigation systems, including their training and validation using high-fidelity hardware-in-the-loop simulations and robotic testbeds at the Stanford's Space Rendezvous Laboratory.
Bio: Simone D'Amico received the B.S. and M.S. degrees from Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy (2003) and the Ph.D. degree from Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands (2010) in aerospace engineering.
He is an Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics with Stanford University, and a W. M. Keck Faculty Scholar in the School of Engineering. From 2003 to 2014, he was a Research Scientist and Team Leader at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), Germany. There, he gave key contributions to the design, development, and operations of spacecraft formation-flying and rendezvous missions such as GRACE (United States/Germany), TanDEM-X (Germany), PRISMA (Sweden/Germany/France), and PROBA-3 (ESA). He joined Stanford in 2014 as an Assistant Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and a Terman Faculty Fellow. He is the Founding Director of the Space Rendezvous Laboratory (SLAB) and a Satellite Advisor of the Stanford Student Space Initiative (SSI), Stanford's largest undergraduate organization. D'Amico's research aims at enabling future miniature distributed space systems for unprecedented science and exploration. His efforts lie at the intersection of advanced astrodynamics, GN&C, and space system engineering to meet the tight requirements posed by these novel space architectures. The most recent mission concepts developed by Dr. D'Amico are a miniaturized distributed occulter/telescope (mDOT) system for direct imaging of exozodiacal dust and exoplanets and the Autonomous Nanosatellite Swarming (ANS) mission for characterization of small celestial bodies.
Dr. D'Amico is the Chairman of the NASA's Starshade Science and Technology Working Group (TSWG). He is a member of the advisory board of space startup companies and VC edge funds. He is a member of the Space-Flight Mechanics Technical Committee of the AAS, Associate Fellow of AIAA, Associate Editor of the AIAA Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics and the IEEE Transactions of Aerospace and Electronic Systems. He is Fellow of the NAE's US Frontiers Of Engineering. He was a recipient of the Leonardo 500 Award by the Leonardo Da Vinci Society and ISSNAF (2019), the Stanford's Introductory Seminar Excellence Award (2019 and 2020), the FAI/NAA's Group Diploma of Honor (2018), the Exemplary System Engineering Doctoral Dissertation Award by the International Honor Society for Systems Engineering OAA (2016), the DLR's Sabbatical/Forschungssemester in honor of scientific achievements (2012), the DLR's Wissenschaft Preis in honor of scientific achievements (2006), and the NASA's Group Achievement Award for the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, GRACE (2004).