Computer Graphics
TU Braunschweig

Image-based Lunar Surface Reconstruction

Image-based Lunar Surface Reconstruction

For the creation of a realistic 3 meter-sized relief globe of the Moon, a detailed height map of the entire lunar surface is required. Available height measurements of the Moon's surface are too coarse by a factor of 15 for this purpose. The only publicly available source of high-resolution information are photographic images from the Lunar Orbiter IV mission in 1967. We present a shape-from-shading approach to plausibly increase the resolution of existing low-resolution height data, based on a single high-resolution photographic mosaic image of the Moon. The presented reconstruction approach is designed to be robust with respect to frequent imperfections of the photographic imagery. Aside from the automatic reconstruction of a complete detailed lunar surface height map, we give a qualitative validation by the reconstruction of lunar surface details from close-up photographs of the Apollo 15 landing site.

moon surface photo montage
Photo montage of our reconstruction of the moon surface near the Apollo 15 landing site with an actual photograph of the lunar lander.

Lunar Orbiter photograph of the Apollo 15 landing site and our reconstructed height map.

Rendering of the reconstructed height map of the Apollo 15 landing site.

Common artifacts in the photographic data that our algorithm has to deal with.

Our reconstruction algorithm starts from a low-resolution height map composed of exact measurements from different sources, the Unified Lunar Control Network (ULCN). A ULCN height map of a large moon region (top) is enhanced by synthesizing surface detail using our algorithm (middle), showing a much larger wealth of detail where photographic information (bottom) is available.

Author(s):Stephan Wenger, Anita Sellent, Ole Schütt, Marcus Magnor
Published:September 2009
Type:Article in conference proceedings
Book:Proc. DAGM
Presented at:Deutsche Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Mustererkennung (DAGM)
Project(s): Lunar Surface Relief Reconstruction 

  title = {Image-based Lunar Surface Reconstruction},
  author = {Wenger, Stephan and Sellent, Anita and Sch{\"u}tt, Ole and Magnor, Marcus},
  booktitle = {Proc. {DAGM}},
  volume = {5748},
  pages = {382--391},
  month = {Sep},
  year = {2009}