Mapping the Moon’s surface for NASA mission planning

(ORDO NEWS) — Professor Jan-Peter Müller and PhD student Alfia Putri from the UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory (UCL-MSSL) created 3D models and images of Aristarchus Crater, which was originally chosen as the landing site for the canceled Apollo 18 mission.

The team used photogrammetry for the first time to produce a detailed 3D model at 1 meter resolution using a series of 14 stereo images.

“Better maps and models of the lunar surface are important to minimize risks and maximize the safety of astronauts. Our technologies, developed over decades, provide the most accurate images and models available today.

They will help to make informed decisions when choosing landing sites, as well as when laying routes for rovers or manned vehicles,” said Professor Muller.

Professor Muller and Yu Tao, UCL-MSSL Research Fellow, have developed a new method for mapping the Moon that eliminates the need for high-resolution stereo images.

This method uses machine learning to predict 3D shapes. For training, almost 400 pairs of images and their corresponding 3D models created by NASA cameras were used.

Using machine learning that processed 370 images of the von Karman crater on the far side of the Moon (the crater is 180 km in diameter and up to 12 km deep), the team created a large 3D mosaic covering an area of ​​260 km x 209 km.

The scientists have produced a technical report that analyzes the images and the 3D model in detail.

The 3D model and accompanying mosaic image are now available to view on NASA’s Moon Trek web portal, which offers a suite of interactive tools for lunar exploration.

The portal has been designed specifically for mission planners, scientists, educators and other stakeholders.

UCL-MSSL is expected to provide additional 3D images of the Artemis landing sites closer to the New Year.

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