Planet surface simulation for testing vision-based autonomous planetary landers

S. Parkes, M. Dunstan, I. Martin, P. Mendham, S. Mancuso

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    ESA is planning a series of robotic missions to Mars, the safe delivery of which will be greatly assisted by landing systems capable of autonomous navigation and hazard detection and avoidance. Vision-based navigation is a promising technique which is currently being developed by ESA. The testing of vision-based navigation systems can benefit from computer-based planet surface simulations representative of the target planetary body. PANGU (Planet and Asteroid Natural Scene Generation Utility) is a software tool for simulating and visualising the surface of various planetary bodies. PANGU builds a planet surface model starting with a predefined surface or a fractal surface generated by PANGU. Craters are placed on the terrain according to user defined parameters, combining idealised mathematical models with fractal techniques to produce a realistic appearance. Boulders, sand dunes and other small scale features may then be added. Given the position and orientation of a camera, PANGU generates the corresponding image accounting for illumination conditions. PANGU has been designed to give a high degree of realism while operating at near real-time speeds. As well as cameras, scanning LIDAR and radar altimeters may also be simulated, allowing a comprehensive evaluation of various navigation sensor combinations and redundancy schemes for planetary landers.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publication57th International Astronautical Congress, IAC 2006
    PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
    Number of pages9
    ISBN (Print)9781605600390
    Publication statusPublished - 2006
    Event57th International Astronautical Congress 2006, IAC 2006 - Valencia, Spain
    Duration: 2 Oct 20066 Oct 2006


    Conference57th International Astronautical Congress 2006, IAC 2006


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