NASA SBIR 2015 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 15-1 S4.01-9469
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Planetary Entry, Descent and Landing and Small Body Proximity Operation Technology
PROPOSAL TITLE: A Next Generation Imaging for Space Application

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Sigma Space Corporation
4600 Forbes Boulevard
Lanham, MD 20706 - 4303
(301) 552-6000

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Dr. Ivelin Bakalski
4600 Forbes Blvd.
Lanham, MD 20706 - 4303
(301) 552-6000 Extension :6053

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Mr. Timothy Kirk
4600 Forbes Blvd.
Lanham, MD 20706 - 4303
(301) 552-6027

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 4

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Planetary Entry, Descent and Landing and Small Body Proximity Operation Technology is a Technology Available (TAV) subtopic that includes NASA Intellectual Property (IP). Do you plan to use the NASA IP under the award?

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The proposal describes a next generation 3D imaging lidar (IML) suitable for a uniquely wide range of space applications - from orbital mapping and proximity operations of small bodies such as asteroid and comets, to full scale entry, decent and landing operations on other planetary bodies. Low Earth Orbit operations such as rendezvous and docking between spacecraft, and space debris search and collection can also be accommodated. Such versatility is made possible system by a system architecture which merges the architectures of two high performance imaging lidars - the Sigma Space 3D Imaging Lidar and the Imaging Lidar for planetary landing developed by the European Space Agency. The result is a highly modular architecture that is scalable and "open" in terms of future development of the underlying technologies thus providing a path for reusable NASA investment. The design combines several advanced technologies which have matured independently of each other into a state-of-the-art system with performance parameters and flexibility greatly exceeding those of the existing instruments. Its key advantage is the operation at the ultimate single photon sensitivity level which minimizes instrument Size, Weight, and Power (SWAP). It is combined with other useful features such as high spatial and range resolution, wide FOV, highly flexible scanning with variable field of regard (FOR), autonomous target acquisition and tracking, and programmable surface measurement rates up to several 3D Megapixels per second (Mpix/s) during orbital mapping and spacecraft entry, descent and landing operations. It advances the state of the art by extending the range of 3D measurements from 10m to 10km, improving the measurement accuracy and the spatial resolution and significantly reducing the impact of incorporating such sensors on the spacecraft in terms of SWAP, spacecraft accommodation complexity, and cost.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The technology developed here can be used to map the surface during descent and landing operations on a wide variety of extraterrestrial bodies, including asteroids, comets, planetary moons, and even planets. Comparable high resolution mapping from higher orbits about large planets or moons, however, would require appropriate increases in laser power and/or receive aperture to sustain the ranging link at the desired resolution. For these larger bodies, the scanner can be placed behind the telescope in order to significantly reduce scanner size and weight. Tradeoff studies between current Sigma and ESA approaches to detectors and range receivers conducted under this SBIR are expected to improve on the performance and characteristics Sigma's current suite of single photon sensitive, airborne 3D imaging lidars. NASA's demonstrated interests, and those of affiliated universities, have included ice sheet mapping in Greenland and Antarctica and biomass measurement in support of global warming research.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Sigma already has a broad base of non-NASA customers interested in its current 3D imaging lidars including all three major branches of the DoD (Army, Navy, and USAF), USGS, universities and commercial aerial surveying and mapping companies. Beyond general topographic mapping and military surveillance applications, other non-NASA customer interests include forestry management, undersea mapping of coastal regions and river beds, searches for mines and submarines, etc. Because of their extreme sensitivity and ability to form high resolution images of a target, photon-counting 3D imaging lidars have potential application to the safe landing of manned, or even unmanned drone, helicopters during "brownout" or low ground visibility conditions. This has been an important goal of the US military, aimed at reducing the number of helicopter crashes that occur in sandy locales such as Iraq where the upwelling sand prevents the pilot from seeing the targeted landing site. In the civilian sector, pilots of helicopters in the medical, police, traffic, and transportation sector encounter similar issues during periods of heavy ground fog.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.)
3D Imaging
Attitude Determination & Control
Autonomous Control (see also Control & Monitoring)
Entry, Descent, & Landing (see also Planetary Navigation, Tracking, & Telemetry)
Navigation & Guidance
Relative Navigation (Interception, Docking, Formation Flying; see also Control & Monitoring; Planetary Navigation, Tracking, & Telemetry)

Form Generated on 04-23-15 15:37