Star Trackers: First Contact

Sept. 1, 2016, 4 a.m. UTC

Sept. 1, 2017, 4 a.m. UTC


The competition is over.

Star trackers are a crucial instrument on any satellite. They are necessary to determine the orientation of the spacecraft and navigate through space. A star tracker consists, essentially, of a camera and a small computer. The camera captures images of the stars and the computer determines the spacecraft's orientation based on the visible stars.

Space is a very hazardous environment with temperatures varying greatly from extremely cold to extremely hot, radiation and debris flying around. These dangers also cause trouble to star trackers: the varying temperatures can deform the lens of the camera, displacing stars' positions in images. Radiation and debris on the other hand, can manifest themselves in camera images as spikes the star tracker confuses as stars.

In this competition we challenge you to come up with a new star identification algorithm robust to noisy measurements and false spikes. Your algorithm will be tested to identify stars in different scenarios of the "lost-in-space" type.