High-quality planetary maps and 3D terrain models have become essential for NASA to plan exploration missions and conduct science. This is particularly true for robotic missions to the Moon and Mars, where maps are used for site selection, traverse planning, and planetary science. This is also important for studies of climate change on Earth, where maps are used to track environmental change (such as polar ice movement).
In this talk, we will describe how the Intelligent Robotics Group
(http://irg.arc.nasa.gov) at NASA Ames builds highly accurate, large-scale planetary maps and 3D terrain models from orbital imagery using novel statistical stereographic and photometric techniques. Orbital imagery includes data captured by the Apollo missions, on-going NASA and international missions, and commercial providers (such as Digital Globe). The mapmaking software that we have developed (Vision Workbench, Ames Stereo Pipeline, Neo-Geography Toolkit) is available as open-source and is widely used by scientists and mission planners.