A new, automatic 3-D moon

Sep 25, 2012 by Nancy Atkinson, Universe Today
Korolev lobate scarp on the Moon, in 3-D. Lobate scarps, a type of cliff,are found mostly in the highlands on the Moon, and are relatively small and young. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

Who doesn't love 3-D images, especially of objects in space? But creating them can be a bit time-consuming for scientists, especially for images from orbiting spacecraft like the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter that takes images from just one angle at a time. Usually, it is "amateur" enthusiasts who take the time to find and combine images from different orbital passes to create rich, 3-D views.

But now, scientists at the University of Arizona and Arizona State University have developed a new automatic "brain"—a new automatic processing system that aligns and adjusts images from LRO, and combines them into images that can be viewed using standard red-cyan .

sees in three dimensions because our eyes are set slightly apart and see the world from two different angles at once. Our brain then interprets the two images and combines them into a single three dimensional view.

Alpes Sinuous Rille, an ancient channel formed as massive eruptions of very fluid lava poured across the surface of the Moon. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

It's fairly easy to create 3-D views from the like Curiosity and Opportunity, because they have mast cameras and navigation cameras which operate in pairs to provide stereo views of the .

But LRO orbits high above the Moon's surface, and can see from only one angle at one time. However, images taken in different orbits, from different angles can be combined together to reconstruct a view in three dimensions.

And this new system can automatically combine the disparate shots together. The images here are a sample of what the team has created so far.

This 'brain' is provided by a new initiative, presented by team member Sarah Mattson (University of Arizona) to the European Planetary Science Congress on 25 September. The team have developed an This type of image is known as an anaglyph.

"Anaglyphs are used to better understand the 3D structure of the lunar surface," said Sarah Mattson from the University of Arizona and team member. "This visualization is extremely helpful to scientists in understanding the sequence and structures on the surface of the Moon in a qualitative way. LROC NAC anaglyEuropean Planetary Science Congress on 25 September. LROC NAC anaglyphs will also make detailed images of surface of the Moon accessible in 3D to the general public."

The Camera – Narrow Angle Camera (LROC NAC) has acquired hundreds of stereo pairs of the lunar surface, and is acquiring more as the mission progresses. The LROC NAC anaglyphs make lunar features such as craters, volcanic flows, lava tubes and tectonic features jump out in 3D. The anaglyphs will be released through the LROC website as they become available.

Explore further: Ceres bright spots sharpen but questions remain

Related Stories

Scientist to Work With NASA's Lunar Orbiter

Jan 25, 2005

NASA has selected Mark S. Robinson, research associate professor of geological sciences in Northwestern University’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, as one of six scientists to provide instrumentation and associated ...

3D Measurements of Apollo 14 Landing Site

Feb 02, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Can we measure the size and shape of equipment and other objects on the moon using orbital images from the current Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission?

Space image: The Moon's North pole

Sep 08, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The Earth's moon has been an endless source of fascination for humanity for thousands of years. When at last Apollo 11 landed on the moon's surface in 1969, the crew found a desolate, lifeless ...

LROC's first look at the Apollo landing sites

Jul 17, 2009

The imaging system on board NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) recently had its first of many opportunities to photograph the Apollo landing sites. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) imaged ...

Recommended for you

Ceres bright spots sharpen but questions remain

14 hours ago

The latest views of Ceres' enigmatic white spots are sharper and clearer, but it's obvious that Dawn will have to descend much lower before we'll see crucial details hidden in this overexposed splatter of ...

Rosetta's view of a comet's "great divide"

15 hours ago

The latest image to be revealed of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comes from October 27, 2014, before the Philae lander even departed for its surface. Above we get a view of a dramatically-shadowed cliff ...

How long will our spacecraft survive?

15 hours ago

There are many hazards out there, eager to disrupt and dismantle the mighty machines we send out into space. How long can they survive to perform their important missions?

Why roundworms are ideal for space studies

15 hours ago

Humans have long been fascinated by the cosmos. Ancient cave paintings show that we've been thinking about space for much of the history of our species. The popularity of recent sci-fi movies suggest that ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.