PANGU: Planet and Asteroid Natural Scene Generation Utility

PANGU simulated lunar like surface

PANGU simulated lunar like surface

The PANGU (Planet and Asteroid Natural scene Generation Utility) project built on the earlier proof of concept work in the LunarSim study. It concentrated on improving the realism of the simulated surfaces and of the images generated from them. In particular crater ageing and surface reflectance models were implemented. Craters of various ages in corresponding states of degradation were modelled. A method was also devised for simulating Hapke bi-directional surface reflectance using the facilities available in OpenGL, a widely used 3D modelling and image-rendering library.

PANGU simulated lunar like surface

PANGU simulated lunar like surface

Computer vision based navigation was being considered for planetary landers to enable them to land softly, close to a pre-designated target landing spot, avoiding any small craters, boulders or other obstacles not visible in an orbital survey. The development and testing of a vision-based lander guidance system required high-resolution images of the planet’s surface which were not normally available. The Space Systems Research Group at the University of Dundee developed the PANGU system for generating realistic simulated planetary surfaces and for producing the images of those simulated surfaces. This tool is ideal for supporting the development of vision-based navigation techniques and for testing their robustness. It has subsequently been used by ESA, Astrium and others for several projects developing planetary lander navigation technology.