A major mission driver for space exploration is to maximise science data return whilst minimising ground-based human intervention and hence associated operations costs. Future robotic exploration such as the ESA/NASA ExoMars mission (launch 2018) , and the subsequent Mars Sample Return (MSR)  mission will require rovers to travel further and faster than has been achieved to date. In order to make this possible it is desirable that currently Earth bound decisions be transferred to the exploration platform wherever possible. This paper presents a novel on-board approach to Automatic Pointing and Image Capture (APIC) capable of increasing science return without removing Earth-based decision points. This on-board element utilises autonomy and basic image processing techniques to image a predefined number of potential targets with a HRC (High Resolution Camera). APIC could however be applied to any number of other non-contact instruments.
|Publication status||Published - 29 Aug 2010|