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Fun with Stereophotoclinometry: Applications of high resolution terrain data

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fun with Stereophotoclinometry:  Applications of high resolution terrain data

Dr. Eric E. Palmer

Planetary Science Institute


The traditional use for Stereophotoclinometry (SPC) is for spacecraft navigation.  To determine the exact position of a spacecraft, an exact model of the object is required.  This shape model is further used for gravity modeling, topographic analysis and image projection.

SPC is unique from other methods of generating topography because SPC solves for both slope and surface reflectance.   While SPC's topographic data has been used by many researchers, its surface reflectance has been neglected.  Here we describe some new uses for the data generated by SPC.

First, we use the high resolution (25m) topographic data of Vesta to generate a spatially resolved thermal model.  We calculate the slope, and thus illumination, per pixel.  Additionally, we use the detailed surface reflectance as a proxy for the Bond albedo to establish the absorbed flux of the surface.  Using these parameters, we generate a thermal model at 25 m resolution that accounts for variations is slope, shadows and albedo.  

Second, we used SPC to test if panoramas and a digital terrain model (DTM) could be used for autonomous navigation.  The algorithm development was recently tested with ground truth.  We used airborne data to build a DTM using SPC.  Then, we went out to the test site and took panoramic images at specific locations.  Then we conducted a search through a 40,000 synthetic panoramas to detect the best match with the actual panoramas.  This test had excellent results.

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