We have completed the first phase of our NASA-funded work to advance the tools for planetary terrain mapping. Conducted jointly with researchers from Carnegie Mellon University, this work is needed as NASA planetary missions are generating ever-greater volumes of terrain data from orbital and surface-based assets at vastly different scales. Current state-of-the-art tools for terrain visualization, such as Google Earth, only manage terrain represented as Digital Elevation Maps (not full 3-D), and integrate high-resolution imagery, but not high-resolution or 3-D terrain geometry. In addition, multiple sources of information are presented as image layers, not as a unified surface.

We developed some novel methods in addressing these problems:

See additional scope of project and technical details.

Together with our CMU colleagues, we have submitted a proposal to carry on this work under a NASA Phase II STTR. We hope next to build a prototype software tool enabling mission planners to incorporate these terrain-mapping improvements into their ongoing mission planning.