TMIS.ascrea - Automatic Selection, Categorization and Recognition of Areomorphic Features

The project focused on an automated areomorphic (i.e. Mars-related morphological) analysis based on DTM data. Automation has become inevitable due to the large amount of available data.

Short Description

One of the most successful planetological exploration missions is ESA's Mars Express. The probe reached Mars in December 2003 and has been delivering a host of valuable data since then. The High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) played a central role in this project. The captured images provided the basis for deriving a highly accurate three-dimensional Digital Terrain Model (DTM) of the planet. 

On Mars, the presence of impact craters of various sizes, large shield volcanoes, and the surface processes dominated by aeolian and mass wasting processes result in a very interesting surface pattern. Unlike on Earth, fluvial processes make no contribution, although they might have in an earlier evolution phase. A high percentage of slopes are covered by detrital material like colluvium or talus; consequently, slope angles on Mars are typically less steep than on Earth, and the distribution of slopes is characteristic of the actual landscape.

The developed DTM segmentation procedure, an error-tolerant, robust planar feature extraction method, aimed at deciphering this property. The presence of planar facets is assumed to disclose information about the forming geological or geomorphic processes. The method was tailored to various geoscientific applications. Parallel computation and sophisticated techniques were used for data storage and processing in order to cope with the huge amount of data and to achieve good performance. Processing of whole DTMs along an orbit became feasible.

The process resulted in thousands of planar faces which needed further analysis. Input parameters can be used to control the accuracy and adjust the analysis to cover diverse features like impact craters, volcanoes, scarps, debris slopes and landslides. This sort of analysis provides valuable information to geologists and enables them to gain a deeper understanding of Martian surface processes.

Project Partners


Vienna University of Technology, Department of Geodesy and Geoinformation - Josef Jansa

Contact Address

Vienna University of Technology - Department of Geodesy and Geoinformation
Josef Jansa
Gußhausstraße 27-29/120
A-1040 Vienna
Tel.: +43 (1) 58801 - 12236