First 3-D Mastcam-Z team “flyover” of Perseverance’s vicinity assembled from flight stereo images
by Gerhard Paar and Jim Bell
One important way to share Mastcam-Z image data products with Mars 2020 mission scientists and the public is through the immersive use of 3-D image products that take advantage of the rover’s two powerful stereo, color, zoomable cameras. Mastcam-Z science team members in our Stereo and Digital Terrain Model Working Group have been planning, testing, and coding for years to prepare for the torrent of high-resolution 3-D images that are now starting to stream back from the Perseverance rover in Jezero crater.
As an initial example, Mastcam-Z team members from Austria have verified their stereo processing and visualization software using downlinked images from Mastcam-Z’s Sol 3 (Feb. 21, 2021) panorama, acquired at 34-mm (wide angle) zoom position and recently released to the public via the NASA Photojournal and the NASA/JPL Perseverance Raw Images web sites. For this early demonstration, stereo products from 96 matched Mastcam-Z left-right image pairs of Perseverance’s environment at its landing site were stitched together for a textured spherical distance map that retains a similar resolution as the original images.
For those interested in a more technical description, conversion of the original stereo pair images into a multi-resolution data structure (“Ordered Point Cloud” – OPC) allowed the Austrian team to use their PRo3D visualization tool to render a video along a virtual flyover trajectory near the rover. For much more background and technical details, visit the PRo3D web site at www.pro3d.space and check out this research abstract by geologist Rob Barnes and colleagues demonstrating the use of these 3-D tools for the analysis of stereo images being acquired by NASA’s Curiosity rover in Gale crater.
The 83-second-long initial flyover video is now available on Youtube, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_340_h15xag
You can expect many more such flyovers in the near future as more Mastcam-Z stereo products, including many from higher-resolution zoom values, are acquired and downlinked from the Perseverance rover!