Guidance software of a Moon lander: preliminary study
I have always struggled during my control theory classes, and almost failed one (out of the three I attended). With this history, some people would have developed a hatred for this subject, but I personally felt in love with it: I have always found it magical to be able to control physical things with software. I love making a pile of silicon1 do things by itself, and developing control algorithms makes it possible to build robots and other automated machines.
"Too much precision" bug
I am currently working on the Rosalind Franklin rover, part of the Exomars 2022 mission to Mars. I develop a software layer to integrate the autonomous navigation algorithms (developed by CNES) with the hardware rover (built by Airbus). CNES has been working on image processing algorithms to give some autonomy to robots. Their expertise is being used, among other projects, in Exomars. Airbus is developing the actual rover, and has defined some APIs to be exposed to allow executing CNES’s algorithms.
Calculating the distance to the Moon
On 13th sept 2019, Pauline Acalin, a spaceflight photojournalist, posted two pictures of the Moon, taken 8.5 hours apart. Scott Manley commented “I should try measuring the distance to the Moon with this”.
That’s was more than enough to get me started to attempt to do exactly this. After months of procrastination, here is finally an article with my findings and the detailed steps to reproduce them.
“Rotating planets come in handy when you want to make a giant stereoscopic gif of the moon […]” - Pauline Acalin Introduction The size of the Earth will be assumed to be known.
Flying to the moon with Apollo
About 50 years ago, humans landed on the Moon for the first time. I initially wanted to write on this subject because I like rockets and space, but this anniversary is a nice coincidence.
Going to the Moon is not an easy endeavor. It requires an outstanding number of subsystems and components to work flawlessly, and many maneuvers to execute right as planned. Each time a rocket takes off, an engineering miracle happens.
Future space articles
This article is a little teasing on future articles that I might write. After two articles on Kubernetes, I am going to switch to aerospace themed articles. Nonetheless, they will probably be fairly focused on software.
Since a few years, I am getting more interested in space. Of course, I watched Scott Manley’s videos, played KSP, etc. But nowadays I like to design missions or spacecrafts with back-of-the-envelope estimations, perform computations and simulations.