Retinex Image Processing--Publications--SPIE 6246, Orlando, Florida Conference

Automated, on-board terrain analysis for precision landings

Zia-ur Rahman, Daniel J. Jobson, Glenn A. Woodell, Glenn D. Hines


Advances in space robotics technology hinge to a large extent upon the development and deployment of sophisticated new vision-based methods for automated in-space mission operations and scientific survey. To this end, we have developed a new concept for automated terrain analysis that is based upon a generic image enhancement platform---multi-scale retinex (MSR) and visual servo (VS) processing. This pre-conditioning with the MSR and the VS produces a ``canonical'' visual representation that is largely independent of lighting variations, and exposure errors. Enhanced imagery is then processed with a biologically inspired two-channel edge detection process, followed by a smoothness based criteria for image segmentation. Landing sites can be automatically determined by examining the results of the smoothness-based segmentation which shows those areas in the image that surpass a minimum degree of smoothness. Though the MSR has proven to be a very strong enhancement engine, the other elements of the approach---the VS, terrain map generation, and smoothness-based segmentation---are in early stages of development. Experimental results on data from the Mars Global Surveyor show that the imagery can be processed to automatically obtain smooth landing sites. In this paper, we describe the method used to obtain these landing sites, and also examine the smoothness criteria in terms of the imager and scene characteristics. Several examples of applying this method to simulated and real imagery are shown.

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