air-LUSI: The Mechanical and Control System Design of NASA's Airborne Lunar Observatory

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Cataford, Andrew
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University of Guelph

Air-LUSI is a NASA sponsored project to establish the Moon as a calibration source for Earth Observing Satellites. To do so, highly accurate radiometric measurements of the Moon must be acquired above the earth's atmosphere for a variety of lunar phases to determine a reliable lunar calibration model. By integrating a robotic telescope inside of NASA's ER-2 aircraft, the air-LUSI project produced a reliable airborne lunar observatory capable of acquiring unadulterated lunar spectra at an altitude of 70,000 feet. The robotic telescope was designed and fabricated at the University of Guelph and used a two degree of freedom gimbal with autonomous target tracking capabilities. The air-LUSI instrument was deployed in August 2018 in Palmdale, California at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center. The robotic subsystem performed flawlessly and tracked the Moon from a moving aircraft with an averaged tracking accuracy under 0.05 degrees.

Airborne Lunar Observatory, Control System Design, Target Tracking, Pointing Control, Line of Sight Controller, Airborne Robotics, Lunar Spectral Irradiance, Radiometry, Mechanical Design, Airworthiness, Machine Vision