Based on the confidence gained during the first autonomous approach, a second rendezvous has been exercised during the few remaining days of the experiment. The objective was to explore the behavior of the autonomous vision-based GNC system at mid to close range. The main difficulty here consists in tuning properly the GNC parameters to cope with the peculiarities of the close approach:
Being properly tuned, the vision-based autonomous rendezvous software could perform successfully a last autonomous approach from 3km to only 30m in two days! With our formation configuration, the minimal distance was unfortunately reached during eclipse, so that we could take images up to 57m distance. Nevertheless these are pretty impressive images!
Final approach from 200m to 30m (dL stands for the relative mean longitude)
Having reached all our experimental goals, it is time for us to conclude this experiment and say goodbye to BEESAT-4!
Left: Estimated distance during the closest approach
Right: Images from 200m to 57m (note that the antennas are perfectly visible at 67m distance)