Event Description: Landing on the surface of the moon, another planet, a comet or an asteroid is a journey of imagination, scientific discovery and above all an engineering challenge. It leads to a new level of perception, an encounter with the unknown and the excitement of exploration.
For the past two decades, the University of Dundee has been engaged in this engineering challenge, designing vision-based navigation systems able to safely guide robotic explorers to a safe landing on the surface of other planets. One of its main achievements is the development of PANGU, a software tool for testing these essential vision-based navigation systems. PANGU is able to create highly realistic planet or asteroid surfaces and simulate a spacecraft with cameras and other sensors approaching and sensing the surface on which it is to land.
Dr Iain Martin, University of Dundee, will introduce PANGU and present a series of images and videos of real and imaginary planetary surfaces.
This event sits alongside an Exhibition of Kelly Richardson’s work ‘The Weather Makers’ featuring Richardson’s piece Mariner 9 which was created using scenery-generation software in combination with technical data from NASA’s missions to Mars.
PANGU v4.01 is now available complete with a variety of model scenarios ranging from synthetic surfaces, asteroids to the Moon and Mars. The experienced team at STAR-Dundee holds a variety of case studies and imagery generated by PANGU, and can work with you to find the right solution for your mission.
PANGU v4.20 will soon be availible.
What is PANGU?
PANGU is a software package primarily used for modelling and rendering astronomical bodies such as the Moon, Mars and asteroids, to support the design and testing of vision-guided spacecraft and landers. Developed by the University of Dundee with support from ESA, PANGU offers a high degree of realism while operating at near real-time speeds on modern desktop PCs with graphics cards that support OpenGL 4.0 and programmable GPU shaders.
PANGU can combine real data such as Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) representing whole planets, higher-resolution DEMs of landing site regions and synthetic terrain to create multi-resolution models that can simulate the full descent of a planetary lander. Standard DEM projections are supported as are combining whole planet models with DEMs and atmosphere models. The ability to manage large models (i.e. greater than 64 GB) enables full lander descents to be simulated to a high degree of realism, with resolution varying from kilometres at the start of the descent to centimetres around the target landing site. Asteroids can be simulated by either importing shape models or by generating fully synthetic asteroid models.
The initial DEM can be obtained from instruments such as NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Laser Altimeter or ESA’s High Resolution Stereo Camera. Alternatively, a DEM with user-defined roughness can be generated by PANGU using fractal techniques.
Base DEMs can be interpolated with fractal detail to achieve a model resolution that is much higher than that of the original DEM. Realistic craters can be added using statistical models of properties such as age and diameter distribution; ageing factors ensure that the resulting craters match those observed in images of real terrain. Boulders and positive relief features can be added to the surface controlled by various statistical distributions. For models of Mars, barchan dune fields can be modelled and craters can have flat bottoms as if filled by dust. An albedo/colour map can be applied for extra realism.
PANGU has the ability to generate camera, LIDAR and RADAR images from any position and orientation to support off-line and closed-loop simulations of planetary landing, surface roving and in-orbit rendezvous operations. The physics-based camera model includes features such as shot noise, thermal dark current, read-out noise, radiation events, photo-response non-uniformity and radial optical distortion. Pixel values can be represented at floating point precision or digitised to match ADCs with up to 16-bits. Integration with NAIF/SPICE allows images to be generated using publicly available historic and predicted data for planetary bodies and spacecraft, and the time of interest.
The practical applications of PANGU are as vast as the technology itself. From dynamic elements such as articulated rover vehicles to Martian scenes with movable dust devils, PANGU offers a realistic experience of bodies in our solar system.
STAR-Dundee are attending DASIA from the 30th May to the 1st June, where we will be demonstrating the SpaceFibre Multi-Lane interface implemented in the radiation-tolerant Microsemi RTG4 FPGA as well as the SpaceFibre Router PXI card. We’ll also be demonstrating the new STAR Fire Mk3 hardware and SpaceFibre link analysis software.
Our CEO Steve Parkes will present on SpaceFibre: Capabilities, Components and Kit on Wednesday the 31st of May at 10:30 (CEST) in room B.
STAR-Dundee are attending the UK Space Conference 2017 from the 30th May to the 1st June, where we will be available at booth B15 in the exhibition area. From here we will be demonstrating our SpaceWire and SpaceFibre equipment including our new STAR Fire Mk3 unit.
The STAR Fire Mk3 can transmit and receive SpaceWire and SpaceFibre traffic and is also a SpaceFibre Link Analyser. SpaceFibre traffic can be transmitted and received either from a host PC or using built-in advanced data generators and checkers. Powerful software allows SpaceFibre traffic captured by the STAR Fire Mk3 to be displayed in multiple views with varying levels of detail. As SpaceFibre is compatible with SpaceWire at the network level, the STAR Fire Mk3 can also be used to transmit and receive SpaceWire traffic over a SpaceFibre link.