PILOT (Precise and Intelligent Landing using Onboard Technologies) is a suite of advanced landing technologies, enabling global access to the lunar surface, precisely and safely. It performs the functions of Visual Navigation and Hazard Detection & Avoidance in an autonomous manner onboard the spacecraft. The PILOT Subsystem consists of several sensors, i.e. landing cameras, a 3D-imaging LIDAR and a Landing Processing Unit (LPU).
A first flight opportunity has been identified in the frame of the ESA-ROSCOSMOS cooperation on Lunar exploration. The PILOT subsystem will be integrated as part of the Guidance Navigation and Control of the Russian Luna-Resource-1 lander, enhancing its landing performance. It will allow to reach landing areas in the South Polar region of the Moon, with an increased probability of success, and to gain the experience and capability required to feed forward to future exploration missions.
In addition, the possibility to embark a landing Camera Optical Unit (COU) as a “passenger” onboard the earlier Russian-led Luna-Glob Lander mission has been identified in cooperation with ROSCOSMOS. This opportunity will allow to demonstrate in-flight the operational capability of the PILOT Camera and to record real images during the Luna-Glob landing. These images, once downlinked, will be used on-ground as inputs for further validation and verification of the overall PILOT subsystem for the Luna-Resource-1 Lander mission. An additional unit specific to this mission (Camera Demonstrator Interface Unit – CDIU) will provide the interfaces between the Camera Optical Unit and the Luna-Glob Lander platform.
The aim is to have B/W images of the lunar surface during orbiting and landing. These images will be used for real-time feature tracking (visual navigation) and landing site selection (hazard avoidance) by Airbus DS (Germany).
PILOT is operated in the Low Lunar Orbit (LLO), Elliptical Orbit (EO), Main Braking, Precision Braking and Surface phases of the Luna Resource (LR) mission.
PILOT will be launched from Vostochnyi launch site; Uglegorsk; Amur region; Russia on a Soyuz-2-1b/Fregat.