Research projects


Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Christoph Traxler

Area Coordinator Smart Worlds & Head of GeoSMAQ, Geospatial Visualization, Semantic Modelling, and Acquisition Group

traxler(at) +43 1 908 98 92 520


Start: 02.2020

End: ongoing


Joanneum Research, ESA

Demo video: Visual Analysis for the HERA planetary defence mission

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Our partners at Joanneum Research will use images taken by HERA to produce a 3D reconstruction of the Didymos system. To prepare for this they first evaluate how well the reconstruction works for different simulated trajectories of the spacecraft, using a preliminary model of the Didymos system. To simulate the images the HERA spacecraft would take, they use PRo3D, a specialised open-source viewer for space exploration developed here at VRVis. From the simulated images they create 3D models, which they compare to the original. For this we implemented some comparison tools in PRo3D.

When we load the two models, they are superimposed. We can toggle their visibility to only see one of them at a time. Apart from general parameters like size and rotation, we can compare selected areas on both models. We select an area by clicking on the models and change its size using the keyboard. Once we are satisfied with the area we can calculate the local distances between the surfaces. Each coloured sphere represents a point where we measured the distance between the two surfaces. We can see in the legend on the left that small distances are displayed in green, and large distances in red. We can move the camera closer and turn the visibility of the models on or off to explore further. We can choose which model’s vertices are used as locations to calculate distances, effectively letting us choose between a higher and a lower resolution of measurements.

Since we do not have any high resolution images of the Didymos system, our simulation and measurement approach helps predict the expected accuracy of the 3D reconstruction and supports the selection of optimum image capture conditions during the mission.

Demo video: impact simulation

Animation of simulation results of an impact with the high performance point cloud renderer Aardvark, based on 1 million particles and considering the porosity of the surface

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