Neural-Rendezvous: Learning-based Robust Guidance and Control to Encounter Interstellar Objects

by   Hiroyasu Tsukamoto, et al.

Interstellar objects (ISOs), astronomical objects not gravitationally bound to the Sun, are likely representatives of primitive materials invaluable in understanding exoplanetary star systems. Due to their poorly constrained orbits with generally high inclinations and relative velocities, however, exploring ISOs with conventional human-in-the-loop approaches is significantly challenging. This paper presents Neural-Rendezvous – a deep learning-based guidance and control framework for encountering any fast-moving objects, including ISOs, robustly, accurately, and autonomously in real-time. It uses pointwise minimum norm tracking control on top of a guidance policy modeled by a spectrally-normalized deep neural network, where its hyperparameters are tuned with a newly introduced loss function directly penalizing the state trajectory tracking error. We rigorously show that, even in the challenging case of ISO exploration, Neural-Rendezvous provides 1) a high probability exponential bound on the expected spacecraft delivery error; and 2) a finite optimality gap with respect to the solution of model predictive control, both of which are indispensable especially for such a critical space mission. In numerical simulations, Neural-Rendezvous is demonstrated to achieve a terminal-time delivery error of less than 0.2 km for 99 with realistic state uncertainty, whilst retaining computational efficiency sufficient for real-time implementation.


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