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Neo-Geography Toolkit Receives Honorable Mention for NASA Software of the Year Award
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Neo-Geography Toolkit Receives Honorable Mention for NASA Software of the Year Award

The Intelligent Robotics Group’s (IRG) Neo-Geography Toolkit (NGT) received an Honorable Mention for NASA’s Software of the Year Award. NGT is a collection of high-performance software tools that automate the processing of geospatial data. NGT is capable of processing raw raster data from remote sensing instruments (aerial imagers, satellite cameras, etc.) into high-quality cartographic products (visible image base maps, topographic 3D terrain models, etc.). Additionally, NGT can perform data processing on extremely large data sets (up to several tens of terabytes) via parallel processing pipelines on a variety of computer platforms, from desktop workstations to supercomputers. NGT can transform raw metadata (such as Spacecraft Planet Instrument C-Matrix Event [SPICE] kernels and Planetary Data System [PDS] image labels), vector data (such as 2D/3D shape files), and geo-tagged data sets into standard NeoGeography data formats, such as Keyhole Markup Language (KML). NGT is available as NASA Open Source software under an Apache 2 license.

The prestigious Software of the Year Award is designed by NASA Headquarters to recognize developers for exceptional software created for, or owned by, NASA. The award includes the NASA Software Medal and monetary compensation of up to $100,000 for the software development team. To qualify for nomination, software must have been officially released within the last three years; have a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 7 or higher; comply with NASA software development standards and security procedures; and be compliant with section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

BACKGROUND: The Neo-Geography Toolkit (NGT) is a fundamental advance in cartography and planetary mapping. NGT has been used by planetary scientists, engineers, and mission planners to produce high-quality, high-resolution 3D terrain models of Mars, the Moon, and the icy satellites of the outer solar system. These 3D terrain models support study of the geology, geomorphology, and surface processes of target bodies; landing site analysis; and planning (communications, traverse, etc.) for a wide range of human and robotic surface missions. NGT's ability to automatically produce high-quality digital maps and models – including detailed error statistics – from satellite imaging is a major technical achievement.

In contrast to traditional methods, which rely heavily on human involvement, NGT makes extensive use of computer vision algorithms and advanced software design to provide an automated process. NGT’s maps of the Moon and Mars have significantly increased knowledge of these two bodies. NGT is now also being used to acquire measurements of the Earth's polar regions, which are needed to understand and assess the impact of climate change.

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Lunar Mapping and Modeling Project (LMMP), Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD); Human-Robotic Systems (HRS) project, ESMD/Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD); Cryosphere program, Science Mission Directorate (SMD); and the Lunar Advanced Science and Exploration Research (LASER) program, SMD

DEVELOPMENT TEAM: Oleg Alexandrov, Ross Beyer, Michael Broxton, Larry Edwards, Terry Fong, Matt Hancher, Kyle Hussman, Taemin Kim, Michael Lundy, Zachary Moratto, Ara Nefian, and Edward Scharff

Contact: Terry Fong

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