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In order to enable the non-cooperative rendezvous, capture, and removal of large space debris, automatic recognition of the target is needed. Video-based techniques are the most suitable in the strict context of space missions, where low-energy consumption is fundamental, and sensors should be passive in order to avoid any possible damage to external objects as well as to the chaser satellite. This paper presents a novel fast shape-from-shading (SfS) algorithm and a field-programmable gatedoi:10.1186/1687-6180-2014-147 fatcat:koc573tgz5ealnalnvd24ixp2e