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21 December 1998 Multipurpose active pixel sensor (APS)-based microtracker
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A new, photon-sensitive, imaging array, the active pixel sensor (APS) has emerged as a competitor to the CCD imager for use in star and target trackers. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has undertaken a program to develop a new generation, highly integrated, APS-based, multipurpose tracker: the Programmable Intelligent Microtracker (PIM). The supporting hardware used in the PIM has been carefully selected to enhance the inherent advantages of the APS. Adequate computation power is included to perform star identification, star tracking, attitude determination, space docking, feature tracking, descent imaging for landing control, and target tracking capabilities. Its first version uses a JPL developed 256 X 256-pixel APS and an advanced 32-bit RISC microcontroller. By taking advantage of the unique features of the APS/microcontroller combination, the microtracker will achieve about an order-of-magnitude reduction in mass and power consumption compared to present state-of-the-art star trackers. It will also add the advantage of programmability to enable it to perform a variety of star, other celestial body, and target tracking tasks. The PIM is already proving the usefulness of its design concept for space applications. It is demonstrating the effectiveness of taking such an integrated approach in building a new generation of high performance, general purpose, tracking instruments to be applied to a large variety of future space missions.
© (1998) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Allan Read Eisenman, Carl Christian Liebe, and David Q. Zhu "Multipurpose active pixel sensor (APS)-based microtracker", Proc. SPIE 3498, Sensors, Systems, and Next-Generation Satellites II, (21 December 1998);


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