In Lunar and Planetary Institute Conference Abstracts, volume 29, pages 1018, 1998. Paper abstract bibtex
The Pathfinder mission made use of a unique capability to rapidly generate and interactively display three-dimensional photo-realistic virtual reality (VR) models of the Martian surface. Marsmap, the interactive terrain visualization sys- tem developed for Pathfinder by the authors as part of a participating science project, creates and renders digital terrain models produced from stereo images of Mars' surface taken by the landerŐs IMP camera. A primary benefit of using VR to display geologic information is that it provides an improved perception of depth and spatial layout of the remote site. The VR aspect of the display allows an opera- tor to move freely in the environment, unconstrained by the physical limitations of the perspective from which the data were acquired. Virtual Reality also offers a way to archive and retrieve information in a way that is easily understood. Combining the VR models with stereo display systems can enable a feeling of presence at the remote location. The capability, implemented in Marsmap, to interactively per- form measurements from within the VR model offered un- precedented ease in performing operations that are normally time consuming and difficult using standard photogrametric techniques. This ground-breaking project demonstrated the power of using Virtual Reality as a cartographic tool.