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Evaluating stereo digital terrain model quality at Mars Rover Landing Sites with HRSC, CTX, and HiRISE Images

September 4, 2021
We have used high-resolution digital terrain models (DTMs) of two rover landing sites based on mosaicked images from the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera as a reference to evaluate DTMs based on High-Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) and Context Camera (CTX) images. The Next-Generation Automatic Terrain Extraction (NGATE) matcher in the SOCET SET and GXP® commercial photogrammetric systems produces DTMs with good (small) horizontal resolution but large vertical error. Somewhat surprisingly, results for NGATE are terrain dependent, with poorer resolution and smaller errors on smoother surfaces. Multiple approaches to smoothing the NGATE DTMs give similar tradeoffs between resolution and error; a 5 × 5 lowpass filter is near optimal in terms of both combined resolution-error performance and local slope estimation. Smoothing with an area-based matcher, the standard processing for U.S. Geological Survey planetary DTMs, yields similar errors to the 5 × 5 filter at slightly worse resolution. DTMs from the HRSC team processing pipeline fall within this same trade space but are less sensitive to terrain roughness. DTMs produced with the Ames Stereo Pipeline also fall in this space at resolutions intermediate between NGATE and the team pipeline. Considered individually, resolution and error each varied by approximately a factor of 2. Matching errors were 0.2–0.5 pixels but most results fell in the 0.2–0.3 pixel range that has been stated as a rule of thumb in multiple prior studies. Horizontal resolutions of 10–20 image pixels were found, consistently greater than the 3–5 pixel spacing generally used for stereo DTM production. Resolution and precision were inversely correlated; their product varied by ≤20% (4–5 pixels squared). Refinement of the stereo DTM by photoclinometry can yield quantitative improvement in resolution (more than a factor of 2), provided that albedo variations over distances smaller than the stereo DTM resolution are not too severe. We offer specific guidance for both producers and users of planetary stereo DTMs, based on our results. 
Publication Year 2021
Title Evaluating stereo digital terrain model quality at Mars Rover Landing Sites with HRSC, CTX, and HiRISE Images
DOI 10.3390/rs13173511
Authors Randolph L. Kirk, David Mayer, Robin L. Fergason, Bonnie L. Redding, Donna M. Galuszka, Trent M. Hare, Klaus Gwinner
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Remote Sensing
Index ID 70225507
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Astrogeology Science Center