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Simulating Thermal Images for Spacecraft Navigation, Guidance and Rendezvous

Project Description

Thermal cameras responsive to frequencies in the infra-red range are being considered for future spacecraft landers and orbital rendezvous missions because they can provide information for autonomous navigation systems that may not be available in the visible light range. The research goals of this project are to develop and validate novel, real-time, 3D graphics rendering algorithms to realistically simulate thermal images of complex 3D models of spacecraft and planetary surfaces to support the testing and development of future spacecraft missions. The algorithms developed will then be extended and applied to the more complex scenario of generating simulated thermal images of spacecraft which contain heat sources and more variation in surface material types and thermal properties. The simulation algorithms will be evaluated against real thermal imaging data from recent and current missions which will provide remote sensing thermal data of the Moon and some asteroids.
The Space Technology Centre at the University of Dundee has been researching technologies for developing and testing autonomous navigation systems for spacecraft landers, surface rovers and spacecraft orbit rendezvous missions for over twenty years. We collaborate closely with the European Space Agency (ESA) and have a developed a complex software suite to model 3D planetary and asteroid surfaces and generate simulated camera images using a custom real-time GPU renderer and camera model simulator. This software is currently being used to generate test images for potential future ESA space missions including Mars Sample Return, Phobos Phootprint, a Moon South Pole lander and many others.
Applicants should have strong Computer programming skills. Experience with 3D Graphics programming GPU shaders and some University level mathematics would also be useful.

Interested applicants should submit a cover letter and CV to Dr I Martin () in the first instance.

Funding Notes

A full scholarship is available for UK/EU students, this will consist of a full fee waiver (Home fees) and a stipend paid at RCUK rated (2019/20 - £15,009). Funding is not available to overseas students.

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