An Evaluation of Low-Cost Vision Processors for Efficient Star Identification

Sensors (Basel). 2020 Nov 2;20(21):6250. doi: 10.3390/s20216250.


Star trackers are navigation sensors that are used for attitude determination of a satellite relative to certain stars. A star tracker is required to be accurate and also consume as little power as possible in order to be used in small satellites. While traditional approaches use lookup tables for identifying stars, the latest advances in star tracking use neural networks for automatic star identification. This manuscript evaluates two low-cost processors capable of running a star identification neural network, the Intel Movidius Myriad 2 Vision Processing Unit (VPU) and the STM32 Microcontroller. The intention of this manuscript is to compare the accuracy and power usage to evaluate the suitability of each device for use in a star tracker. The Myriad 2 VPU and the STM32 Microcontroller have been specifically chosen because of their performance on computer vision algorithms alongside being cost-effective and low power consuming devices. The experimental results showed that the Myriad 2 proved to be efficient and consumed around 1 Watt of power while maintaining 99.08% accuracy with an input including false stars. Comparatively the STM32 was able to deliver comparable accuracy (99.07%) and power measurement results. The proposed experimental setup is beneficial for small spacecraft missions that require low-cost and low power consuming star trackers.

Keywords: Myriad 2; OpenMV; STM32; deep learning; power measurement; star feature extraction; star identification; star tracker.

Publication types

  • Letter