1st Annual RPI Workshop on Image-Based Modeling and Navigation for Space Applications

June 4-5, 2018 – Workshop
June 6-8, 2018 – Short Course
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY

IDEFIX/Ariane Rocket Body 42P

Poorly-resolved sequence of images of IDEFIX/Ariane Rocket Body 42P. Images from GT-SORT and provided courtesy of Dr. Marcus Holzinger.

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Original image provided as .IMG file in the archive delivery from : ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA.

Photo of Dione

Dione. Original image provided as .IMG file from : Porco, C.P., CASSINI ORBITER SATURN ISSNA/ISSWA 2 EDR VERSION 1.0, CO-S-ISSNA/ISSWA-2-EDR-V1.0, 2005.

Abstracts Due: 2 February 2018
Author Notification: 23 February 2018
Manuscript Deadline: 23 May 2018

Workshop registration will open in February 2018.

Submit Your Abstract

Although images of space objects have been used for decades, there are many common challenges in the use of image data for planetary science, optical navigation, and space situational awareness. Many of these challenges may be addressed by recent advancements in imaging sensors, computer vision algorithms, and computing resources - all of which set the stage for a fundamental change in how we will exploit image data for future space missions. This workshop aims to facilitate the dissemination of ideas between all of the communities using space image data and to identify areas of common need. The unique workshop format will include oral presentations, poster sessions, and focused breakout sessions to discuss topics of interest.

Speakers & Schedule

Dr. Jan-Michael Frahm
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Keynote Speaker

Jan-Michael Frahm is an Associate Professor at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he heads the 3D computer vision group. He received his Dr.-Ing. in computer vision in 2005 from the Christian-Albrechts University of Kiel, Germany and his Diploma in Computer Science from the University of Lübeck, Germany. His research interests include a variety of topics on the intersection of computer vision, computer graphics, robotics. He has worked on structure from motion for single/multi-camera systems for static and dynamic scenes to create 3D models of the scene; real-time multi-view stereo to create a dense scene geometry from camera images; improved robust and fast estimation methods from noisy data in various stages of the reconstruction process; high performance feature tracking for salient image-point motion extraction; high frame rate camera tracking; and the development of data-parallel algorithms for commodity graphics hardware for efficient 3D reconstruction. He has over 100 peer-reviewed publications and is editor in chief for the Elsevier Journal on Image and Vision Computing.

Dr. Shyam Bhaskaran
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Keynote Speaker

Dr. Shyam Bhaskaran began his professional career at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in January of 1992 as an orbit determination specialist on the Galileo mission. Since then, he has served as a member and lead of the navigation team for many missions. He is the one of the principal architects of the autonomous navigation system used on the Deep Space 1, STARDUST, and Deep Impact missions. He then moved into management, serving as the Mission Management Office Team Chief for Guidance, Navigation and Control, during which time he oversaw the successful navigation efforts of STARDUST's flyby of the comet Wild 2, the Genesis Earth return, and Deep Impact's encounter with comet Tempel 1. Since 2005, Dr. Bhaskaran has been the Supervisor for the Outer Planet Navigation Group in the Mission Design and Navigation Section.  As manager of this group, Dr. Bhaskaran is responsible for the technical and administrative oversight of 15 engineers responsible for navigation analysis and operations of several current and future missions, including Cassini, Dawn, Juno, and Europa Clipper.  Dr. Bhaskaran's honors include two NASA Exceptional Achievement Medals, awards for Technical Excellence, and a NASA Space Act Award for his work on the Deep Space 1 Autonomous Navigation System.  He has also received over 20 NASA Group Achievement Awards for his work on the various missions listed above.

Dr. Bhaskaran received a B.S (1985). and M.S. (1987) from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Ph.D (1991) from the University of Colorado at Boulder, all in Aerospace Engineering.


The schedule will be posted soon.

Technical Papers, Presentations, and Posters:

Abstracts are sought in all aspects of image analysis for space applications, and may be submitted to one of the following three categories: presentation (manuscript optional), poster (manuscript optional), student competition (manuscript required). Example topics of particular interest include:

  • Image processing techniques as applied to space imagery
  • Estimation of a body’s photometric properties from images
  • Stereophotoclinometry (SPC)
  • Lightcurve inversion
  • Optical navigation (OPNAV)
  • 3D modeling of space objects from 2D imagery
  • Image-based terrain relative navigation (TRN)
  • Simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM)
  • Space imaging hardware

Outstanding technical papers from the workshop will be invited for submission to a special issue of the Journal of the Astronautical Sciences.

Breakout Session Proposals:

In addition to the technical presentations and posters, the workshop will feature a series of breakout sessions where attendees can meet in small groups to discuss topics of interest to the community. We are accepting proposals for breakout session topics. Breakout session proposals should be no more than one (1) page in length.

Student Paper Competition:

Papers with students as the primary author are eligible for submission to the student paper competition. Students authors must attend the workshop and will present their work in a special poster session. Papers will be evaluated on technical merit and impact to the field, with the top papers receiving awards.


Submit Your Abstract: 

Stereophotoclinometry (SPC) Short Course

Instructors: Dr. Eric Palmer and Dr. Bob Gaskell, Planetary Science Institute
June 6-8, 2018 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Stereophotoclinometry (SPC) is a technique for building digital terrain models that combines the accuracy of stereophotogrammetry with the high-resolution capabilities of photoclinometry.  It has been used on numerous missions to provide support for navigation and scientific topographic analysis (Dawn, Rosetta, Cassini, Hayabusa, NEAR).

This short course will provide training on both the theoretical background of SPC and provide pragmatic training on how to run the software.  It will teach the students to create and change LANDMARKS/MAPLETS, register and use images, evaluate the quality of SPC products, and learn techniques to fix errors. By the end of the class, the student will produce a low-resolution shape model of an asteroid and have the skills to continue this work to the limit of the source images.

This course is predominantly hands-on, so it is imperative that the software installed on their laptop prior to training.  SPC runs in a unix environment, with the procedures and tools optimized for a Mac OS.  PC are suggested to dual-boot into linux.  Familiarity with unix command line will be significantly beneficial.

Registration and participation in the SPC short course is limited to U.S. Persons.


Workshop and short course registration will open in early 2018.

Travel & Lodging




The workshop will be held on the campus of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) at the state-of-the-art Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC).


A block of rooms has been reserved at the Hilton Garden Inn Troy (235 Hoosick Street, Troy, NY 12180). The group code is RMEC06 with rooms available at the group rate from June 4 through June 8, 2018. There are only a limited number of rooms in this block, so you are encouraged to make your reservations early. The hotel has a shuttle that can provide transportation to and from locations on RPI campus.


Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is located in Troy, NY, with easy access to Albany International Airport (ALB) and the Albany-Rensselaer Amtrak station.


Rensselaer Polytechnic Institue
American Astronautical Society
New York Space Grant Consortium

Planning Committee

Workshop General Chair:

Workshop Planning Committee:

  • Lylia Benhacine, C.S. Draper Laboratory
  • Shyam Bhaskaran, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Christopher D’Souza, NASA Johnson Space Center
  • Marcus Holzinger, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Coralie Jackman, KinetX
  • Andrew Liounis, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Jim Masciarelli, Ball Aerospace & Technology Corp.
  • Sandipan Mishra, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Richard Radke, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • James Roberts, JHU Applied Physics Laboratory