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Rensselaer Hosts Workshop on Image-Based Modeling and Navigation for Space Applications

John Christian, assistant professor of aerospace engineering, organized the workshop.

June 14, 2018

Rensselaer Hosts Workshop on Image-Based Modeling and Navigation for Space Applications

Led by the new Sensing, Estimation, and Automation Laboratory at Rensselaer

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hosted the first annual Workshop on Image-Based Modeling and Navigation for Space Applications June 4-5 on campus.

Images collected by spacecraft are one of the primary sources of information for understanding our solar system. These same images may be used to determine the spacecraft’s location. Despite decades of experience with processing space imagery, a number of challenges continue to limit where we explore and how much we learn while there.

This workshop brought together the world’s experts in space-based imaging, modeling, and navigation to share new developments and to identify areas of common need. According to John Christian, assistant professor in aerospace engineering at Rensselaer and the workshop organizer, the workshop “offered a unique opportunity for the entire community to learn from each other. We were pleased to host our colleagues at RPI for this important forum and to share our institution’s rich history in space exploration.” 

More than 60 people from 25 national and international organizations attended the workshop, including presentations from Rensselaer, NASA, the European Space Agency, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, C.S. Draper Laboratory, KinetX, Jena-Optronik, University of Texas at Austin, University of Colorado Boulder, Stanford University, and many more.

The workshop featured two keynote presentations. The first was delivered by Shyam Bhaskaran, supervisor for the Outer Planet Navigation Group in the Mission Design and Navigation Section at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. His presentation was titled “Image-Based Deep Space Navigation: Finding Our Way Around the Solar System One Picture at a Time.”

The second keynote was delivered by Jan-Michael Frahm, professor of computer science at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he heads the 3D computer vision group. His presentation was titled Large-Scale Robust Estimation of 3D World Models Leveraging Crowd-Sourced Data.”

In addition to Rensselaer, the workshop was co-sponsored by the New York Space Grant Consortium and the American Astronautical Society.

To learn more and to see the full agenda, go to


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Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America’s first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, 32 research centers, more than 145 academic programs, and a dynamic community made up of more than 7,600 students and more than 100,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include more than 145 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration.