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The Camera Gantry Testbed

The Camera Gantry Testbed (CGT) is a 5-degree-of-freedom camera device that enables image acquisition for small-scale emulation of orbiting and landing trajectories. A camera is attached to the platform at the bottom of the central arm, which can be translated to any point within the volume of the gantry and rotated along two axes. At the bottom of the gantry is a simulated planetary surface, which can be artificially scaled by changing the focal length of the camera.

The CGT motion controller includes drivers so the user can command velocity or position in the five controllable axes and retrieve position and orientation ground-truth measurements of camera location in the CGT coordinate frame. The CGT can be used to perform closed-loop testing of landing algorithms by using imagery acquired by the camera as input into machine-vision algorithms to generate commands to the CGT motion controller. The CGT also has a scanning lidar which can be used to generate ground-truth elevation maps of the test-bed terrain and a moveable illuminator that can emulate any solar-incidence angle.

Fig. 1: Camera Gantry Testbed. The top inset shows a close view of the scanning lidar. The bottom inset shows a close view of the downward looking camera.