3D Modeling Laser Scanning Lidar Surveying

Lidar Backpack for Mapping in Space

image of Lidar Backpack - image from NASA
Lidar Backpack - image from NASA

As humanity prepares to return to the moon (“to stay,” as they remind us constantly), there’s a lot of infrastructure that needs to be built to make sure astronauts are safe and productive on the lunar surface. Without GPS, navigation and mapping is a lot harder — and NASA is working with lidar company Aeva to create a lidar backpack that scans the terrain when ordinary cameras and satellite instruments won’t cut it.

From an article in Tech Crunch by Devin Coldewey.

The project is called KNaCK, or Kinematic Navigation and Cartography Knapsack, and it’s meant to act as a sort of hyperaccurate dead reckoning system based on simultaneous location and mapping (SLAM) concepts.

This is necessary because for now, we have no GPS-type tech on the moon, Mars or any other planet, and although we have high-resolution imagery of the surface from orbit, that’s not always enough to navigate by. For example, at the south pole of the moon, the fixed angle of the sun results in there being deep shadows that are never illuminated and brightly baked highlights that you need to careful how you look at. This area is a target for lunar operations due to a good deal of water below the surface, but we just don’t have a good idea of what the surface looks like in detail.

Lidar provides an option for mapping even in darkness or bright sunlight, and it’s already used in landers and other instruments for this purpose. What NASA was looking for, however, was a unit small enough to be mounted on an astronaut’s backpack or to a rover, yet capable of scanning the terrain and producing a detailed map in real time — and determining exactly where it was in it.

For the complete article on the lidar backpack CLICK HERE.

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