Asteroid modeling for testing spacecraft approach and landing

Iain Martin (Lead / Corresponding author), Steve Parkes, Martin Dunstan, Nick Rowell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
493 Downloads (Pure)


Spacecraft exploration of asteroids presents autonomous-navigation challenges that can be aided by virtual models to test and develop guidance and hazard-avoidance systems. Researchers have extended and applied graphics techniques to create high-resolution asteroid models to simulate cameras and other spacecraft sensors approaching and descending toward asteroids. A scalable model structure with evenly spaced vertices simplifies terrain modeling, avoids distortion at the poles, and enables triangle-strip definition for efficient rendering. To create the base asteroid models, this approach uses two-phase Poisson faulting and Perlin noise. It creates realistic asteroid surfaces by adding both crater models adapted from lunar terrain simulation and multiresolution boulders. The researchers evaluated the virtual asteroids by comparing them with real asteroid images, examining the slope distributions, and applying a surface-relative feature-tracking algorithm to the models.
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-62
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Computer Graphics and Applications
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Adaptation models;Asteroids;Moon;Rendering (computer graphics);Rough surfaces;Space research;Space vehicles;Surface roughness;Unmanned aerial vehicles;computer graphics;fractal;graphics;terrain modeling;terrain-relative navigation;vision guidance;visualization


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