The asteroid explorer Hayabusa-2, which is scheduled to be launched in 2014, is going to perform a global mapping mission after it arrives at the target asteroid. Although most of the global mapping sequence will be the same as that of its predecessor Hayabusa, several automation technologies are planned to be tested to reduce the workload of the operators. In particular, the structure from motion (SFM) and simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) techniques are expected to significantly contribute to the automation of asteroid shape estimation and visual spacecraft navigation. These frameworks require automatic landmark tracking on the asteroid surface, but no previous work has discussed the method that should be used to track images of the asteroid taken in space, where the absence of scattering light causes dramatic changes in appearance. In this study, we evaluated the performances of SIFT, SURF, BRISK, ORB, Harris-Affine, Hessian-Affine and MSER for images of the asteroid. We found that SIFT is acceptable for use, while SURF, BRISK and ORB can be used with careful parameter tuning. The affine-invariant detectors might contribute to more accurate tracking, but using them is more challenging owing to an extra normalizing process.
2015 The Japan Society for Aeronautical and Space Sciences