Experiences from the SISO SpaceFOM at the European Space Agency

The Harwell Robotic and Autonomy Facility (HRAF) activities funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) aim to provide advanced capabilities to support the development and testing of complex autonomous systems for the exploration of our Solar System. The outcome of one of these activities is a a flexible simulation environment allowing models and real hardware to be combined, compared and tested in a plug and play mode.

HRAF has carried out three pilot studies on the use of simulation concepts. This paper presents experiences from Pilot 3, in particular from the task of developing a Federation specialized for space exploration scenarios.

The first scenario is concerned with Mars Sample Return (MSR). Specifically, the mission phase where the Orbiting Sample (OS) is retrieved by a Chaser spacecraft (ERO) in Mars orbit for later return and analysis on Earth. The guidance, navigation and control (GNC) functionality using Image based Navigation techniques is accompanied by a high-fidelity Physics “real-world” simulator. The second scenario is concerned with the soft, precision landing of a Spacecraft on a low gravity Near Earth Object (NEO). 

The federation is based on the generic standard for distributed simulation: High Level Architecture (HLA IEEE 1516-2010), together with the associated SISO Space Reference FOM standard (SISO-STD-018 “SpaceFOM”). Different configurations of the Federation are constructed, the MSR Scenario considering a Model-in-the-Loop (MIL) and Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) configuration and the NEO Scenario implementing MIL, Processor-in-the-Loop (PIL) including Synthetic Image generation and HIL configurations. In many cases the same functionality is provided as MIL, PIL and HIL and federates can be exchanged between executions. The federation can also be run locally or distributed between ESA and contractor sites. 

Authors: Björn Möller, Tom Gray, Steven Kay, Aron Kisdi, Karl Buckely, Juan Delfa
Publication: Proceedings of 2021 Virtual Simulation Innovation Workshop, 2021-SIW-018, Simulation Interoperability Standards Organization, February 2021

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