PC Align

Last month we had a new release of Ames Stereo Pipeline, version 2.3! We’ve performed a lot of bug fixing and implementing new features. But my two new prized features in ASP are pc_align and lronac2mosaic. Today I’d like to only introduce pc_align, a utility for registering DEMs, LIDAR points, and ASP point clouds to each other. All you have to do is specify an input, a reference, and an approximate estimate for how bad you think the misplacement is.

Does that sound like magic? Under the hood, pc_align is performing an implementation of the iterative closest point algorithm (ICP). Specifically we are using internally libpointmatcher library from ETH. What ICP does is iteratively attempt to match every point of the input with the nearest neighbor in the reference point cloud. ICP then solves for a transform that would globally reduce the distances between the current set of matches. Then it repeats itself and performs a new round of matching input to reference and then again solves for another global step. Repeat, repeat, repeat until we no longer see any improvements in the sum of distances between matches.

This means that failure cases for PC_align are when the reference set is too coarse to describe the features seen in the input. An example would be having a HiRISE DEM and then only having a single orbit of MOLA that intersects. A single line of MOLA does nothing to constrain the DEM about the axis of the shot line. The 300 meter post spacing might also not be detailed enough to constrain a DEM that is looking at small features such as dunes on a mostly flat plane. What is required is a large feature that both the DEM and the LIDAR source can resolve.

CTX to HRSC example

Enough about how it works. Examples! I’m going to be uncreative and just process CTX and Gale Crater because they’re fast to process and easy to find. I’ve processed the CTX images P21_009149_1752_XI_04S222W, P21_009294_1752_XI_04S222W, P22_009650_1772_XI_02S222W, and P22_009716_1773_XI_02S223W using stereo options “–alignment affineepipolar –subpixel-mode 1”. This means correlation happens in 15 minutes and then triangulation takes an hour because ISIS subroutines are not thread safe. I’ve plotted these two DEMs on top of a DLR HRSC product, H1927_0000_DT4.IMG. It is important to note that this version of the DLR DEM is referenced against the Mars ellipsoid and not the Aeroid. If your data is referenced against the Aeroid, you’ll need to use dem_geoid to temporarily remove it for processing with pc_align who only understand ellipsoidal datums.

In the above picture, the two ASP created DEMs stick out like sore thumbs and are misplaced by some 200 meters. This is due to pointing information for MRO and subsequently CTX being imperfect (how much can you ask for anyway?). You could run jigsaw and that is the gold standard solution, but that takes a lot of manual effort. So instead let’s use pc_align with the commands shown next.

> pc_align --max-displacement 200 H1927_0000_DT4.tif P22-PC.tif \
        --save-transformed-source-points  -o P22_align/P22_align \
> point2dem --t_srs "+proj=sinu +lon_0=138 +x_0=0 +y_0=0 \
        +a=3396000 +b=3396000 +units=m +no_defs" \
        --nodata -32767 P22_align/P22_align-trans_source.tif

There are 3 important observations to make from the command line above. (1) We are using the max displacement option to set the upper bound of how bad we think we are, 200 meters. (2) I’m feeding the ASP PC file as the input source instead of ASP’s DEM. This is because in (3) with the save transformed source points we’ll be writing out another PC file. PC align can only export PC files so we always have to perform another round of point2dem. It is possible to run stereo -> point2dem -> PC Align -> point2dem, but it means you are unneccesarily resampling your data once. Using the PC file directly from stereo saves us from potential aliasing and removes a point2dem call.

Here’s the final result where both CTX DEMs are plotted on top of the HRSC DEM. Everything looks really good except for that left edge. This might be because the DEM was rendered with incorrect geometry and the output DEM is subtly warped from a perfect solution.

Another cool feature that pc_align author Oleg Alexandrov added was recording the beginning and ending matching errors in CSV files. They’re found with the names <prefix>-{beg,end}_errors.csv. You can load those up in QGIS and plot theirs errors to visualize that pc_align uniformly reduced matching error across the map. (Thanks Ross for showing me how to do this!)

CTX to MOLA

Quite a few MOLA shots can be found inside the CTX footprints. Above is a plot of all MOLA PEDR data for Gale crater. I was able to download this information in CSV format from the MOLA PEDR Query tool from Washington University St. Louis. Conveniently PC_align can read CSV files, just not in the format provided by this tool. PC_align is expecting the data to be in format long, lat, elevation against ellipsoid. What is provide is lat, long, elevation against aeroid, and then radius. So I had to manually edit the CSV in Excel to be in the correct order and create my elevation values by subtracting 3396190 (this number was wrong in first draft) from the radius column. The other added bit of information needed with CSV files is that you’ll need to define the datum to use. If you don’t, pc_align will assume you’re using WGS84.

> pc_align --max-displacement 200 P22-PC.tif mola.csv\
        -o P22_mola/P22_mola --datum D_MARS --save-inv-trans \
> point2dem --t_srs "+proj=sinu +lon_0=138 +x_0=0 +y_0=0 \
        +a=3396000 +b=3396000 +units=m +no_defs" \
        --nodata -32767 P22_mola/P22_mola-trans_reference.tif

Two things to notice in these commands, the inputs are backwards from before and I’m saving the inverse transform.  You can keep things in the same order as when I was aligning to HRSC,  it is just that things will run very slowly. For performance reasons, the denser source should be considered the reference and then you must request the reference to be transformed to the source. You’ll likely routinely be using this inverse form with LIDAR sources.

In the end I was able to reduce alignment error for my CTX DEMs from being over 50 meters to being less than 15 meters against MOLA and from over 100 meter to 40 meters error against HRSC. A result I’m quite happy with for a single night processing at home. You can see my final composited MOLA registered CTX DEMs on the left. The ASP team will have more information about pc_align in LPSC abstract form next year. We also hope that you try out pc_align and find it worth regular use in your research.

Update:

I goofed in the MOLA example! Using D_MARS implies a datum that is a sphere with 3396190 meter radius. I subtracted the wrong number from MOLA’s radius measurement before (the value 3396000). That probably had some effect on the registration result shown in the pictures, but this mistake is smaller than the shot spacing of MOLA. Meaning the horizontal registration is fine, but my output DTMs are 190 meters higher than they should have been. FYI, D_MOON implies a datum that is a sphere with radius 1737400 meters.

Advances in LRO-NAC processing in ASP

Since I last wrote, we’ve hired a new full-time employee. His name is Scott and we assigned him the task of learning ASP and LROC. The first utilities he’ll be contributing back to ASP are lronacjitreg and lronac2mosaic.py. The first utility is very similar to the ISIS utility with a similar name designed for HiRISE. The second utility, lronac2mosaic.py, uses the first tool and can take LRO-NAC EDR imagery and make a non-projected image mosaic. What lronac2mosaic.py does internally is ‘noproj’ and then ‘handmos’ the images together. There is an offset between the images due to model imperfections. Finding the correct offset so the combined images are seamless is the task of lronacjitreg. All of this just a streamed line version of what I wrote in a past blog post.

Previously users and our team only had the option to run all 4 combinations of the 4 LRO-NAC input files through ASP and then glue them together afterwards. Now with the use of lronac2mosaic, we can feed whole LRO-NAC observations into ASP and receive the full DTM in one go. No messy mosaicking of 4 files.

I’ve used Scott’s program successfully to recreate most DTMs that ASU has made via SOCET SET. Using my home server, I’ve been able to recreate 77 of their DTMs to date. We’ve been fixing bugs as we hit them. One of the biggest was in our search range guessing code. The next upcoming release of ASP will have the fruits of that labor. Previously ASP had a bad habit of ignoring elevation maximas in the image as it thought those IP measurements were noise. Now we should have a better track record of getting measurements for the entire image.

One of the major criticisms I’m expecting from the large dump of LRO-NAC DTMs we expect to deliver next year is what is the quality of the placement of our DTMs in comparison to LOLA. Another engineer we have on staff, Oleg, has just the solution for this. He has developed an iterative closest point (ICP) program called pc_align which will be in the next release. This is built on top of ETHZ Autonomous System Lab’s libpointmatcher and has the ability to take DTMs and align them to other DTMs or LIDAR data. This enables us to create well-aligned products that have height values agreeing within tens of meters with LOLA. Our rough testing shows us having a CE90 of 4 meters against LOLA after performing our corrections.

We’re not ready for the big production run yet. One problem still plaguing our process is that we can see the CCD boundaries in our output DTMs. We believe most of this problem is due to the fact that the angle between line of sight of the left and right CCDs changes with every observation. ISIS however only has one number programmed into it, the number provided by the FK. Scott is actively developing an automated system to determine this angle and to make a custom FK for every LRO-NAC observation. The second problem we’re tracking is that areas of high slope are missing from our DEMs. This is partially because we didn’t use Bayes EM for our test runs but it also seems like our disparity filtering is overly aggressive or just wrong. We’ll get on to that. That’s all for now!

Creating a registered LRO-NAC DEM without GCPs

I’ve previously written a tutorial on performing a bundle adjustment, jigsaw in ISIS lingo, using CTX. Let’s try something a little bit more complex with LRO-NAC. If you are not previously aware, LRO-NAC is actually two separate optical assemblies that are joined by the spacecraft bus. Ideally this spacecraft hardware would be solid as a rock and wouldn’t bend. Unfortunately that’s not the case, so what would have been a bundle adjustment between 2 cameras is now 4 in the case of LRO-NAC.

LRO-NAC Data Preparation

Picking a stereo pair has always been the most difficult part of the job for me. I honestly don’t know how to find stereo pairs. So instead I’m just going to recreate something ASU did in SOCET SET. If you are not aware, ASU has processed about 100 DEMs with LRO-NAC. I’m going to recreate their Moore F Crater DEM using M125713813 and M125720601. You can download the raw data via PDS.

I picked this stereo pair blindly and it ended up being extremely difficult to register correctly. In order to help out, I added a fifth image to the bundle adjustment to give another orbit’s worth of spacecraft ephemeris into the measurements. That image was M110383422LE and I picked it because it overlapped 2 of my previous images and had the same lighting conditions as my previous images.

Once you have downloaded all the images, prep the files in ISIS with the following:

parallel "lronac2isis from={} to={.}.cub; lronaccal from={.}.cub to={.}.cal.cub; spiceinit from={.}.cal.cub; rm {.}.cub" ::: *IMG

* The ‘parallel’ command is GNU Parallel, a non-standard system utility that I love dearly.

Attaching a custom Elevation Source

From a previous article I wrote about, we saw that map projecting against the WAC Global DTM gave much better results than working against the sparse LOLA that is the default for map projecting by in ISIS. So I’m going to do that now. Once we have a successful jigsaw result, then we’ll map-project. If you forgot how to attach the WAC Global DTM, here are the commands I used. My image pair was at 37.3N and 185E. So the tile WAC_GLD100_E300N2250_100M.IMG from this link was what I needed.

pds2isis from=WAC_GLD100_E300N2250_100M.IMG to=WAC_GLD100_E300N2250_100M.cub
algebra from=WAC_GLD100_E300N2250_100M.cub to=WAC_GLD100_E300N2250_100M.lvl1.cub operator=unary A=1 C=1737400
demprep from=WAC_GLD100_E300N2250_100M.lvl1.cub to=WAC_GLD100_E300N2250_100M.lvl2.cub
rm WAC_GLD100_E300N2250_100M.cub WAC_GLD100_E300N2250_100M.lvl1.cub

parallel spiceinit from={} shape=USER model=$PATH_TO/WAC_GLD100_E300N2250_100M.lvl2.cub ::: *cal.cub

Making the control network

Making the control network is pretty straightforward and is just time consuming. I performed the commands I previously outlined here on this blog.

Autoseed.def:

Group = PolygonSeederAlgorithm
      Name = Grid
      MinimumThickness = 0.01
      MinimumArea = 1
      XSpacing = 600
      YSpacing = 1000
End_Group

AutoRegTemplate.def:

Object = AutoRegistration
   Group = Algorithm
     Name         = MaximumCorrelation
     Tolerance    = 0.7
   EndGroup

   Group = PatternChip
     Samples = 19
     Lines   = 19
     MinimumZScore = 1.5
     ValidPercent = 80
   EndGroup

   Group = SearchChip
     Samples = 120
     Lines   = 100
   EndGroup
 EndObject

Commands

parallel footprintinit from={} ::: *cal.cub
echo *.cub | xargs -n1 echo > cube.lis
findimageoverlaps from=cube.lis overlaplist=overlap.lis
autoseed fromlist=cube.lis overlaplist=overlap.lis onet=control.net deffile=autoseed.def networkid=lronac pointid=???? description=moon
pointreg fromlist=cube.lis cnet=control.net onet=control_pointreg.net deffile=autoRegTemplate.def
qnet (editting and fixing control_pointreg.net)

I had to spend a lot of time in Qnet for this stereo pair. About half of my automatic matches didn’t work. (Possibly my search range was too small?) In order to correct this, I had to then manually edit the output control network in Qnet. I then filter down all the control points to the ones marked ‘Ignored’. Then I just manually align the measurements. You just need to get the measures close to the right spot by clicking on the same feature. Afterwards, you can then click the ‘Register’ button to get subpixel accurate alignment.

Autoseed and AutoReg also have a bad habit of only matching LE images to LE, and RE images to RE. It is a good idea to run along the edge of an LE image and try to find common points that are seen in both RE images. These are going to be the few control points that have more than 2 control measures. I also had to do this between my 5th image and the other 2 images that it had overlap with. This problem was likely because the overlap between these 3 images didn’t meet the requirement of MinimumThickness in Autoseed.def.

Normally at this point I would then recommend to you to start picking out ground control points. I tried that. Then I went a little insane. I’m better now. Instead we’re going to do crazy stuff in the next section.

The reason we’re not using GCPs, is that the only source to align against is the WAC Image mosaic. I tried this and I could easily get a bundle adjustment result that aligned well with the image mosaic. However the output DEM would always show a massive error between my height results and the results of LOLA and the WAC Global DTM. After adding the 5th image and clamping the trust of my GCP to 50 meters in radius, I got a result that matched LOLA and WAC DTM in an okay manner but didn’t really align at all to the WAC image mosaic. Things made sense once I compared the image mosaic to a hillshade of WAC DTM.

WAC’s Image mosaic doesn’t agree with WAC’s Global DTM! Ghaaaa! Madness! I was so incredibly disappointed. I didn’t know what to do at this point, so I just dropped the ground control points.

Bundle Adjusting

Alrighty then, time to start bundle adjusting with jigsaw. Likely on the first run things are going to blow up because bad measurements still exist in the control network. My solution to this was to first have jigsaw solve for only a few camera parameters and then check out the output control network for features that had the highest error. In Qnet you can filter control measures that have errors higher than a certain amount of pixels. After I fixed those measurements manually, I resave the control network as my input network and then redo the jigsaw.

Each time I redo jigsaw, I let jigsaw solve for more parameters. My pattern was:

jigsaw fromlist=cube.lis radius=no twist=no cnet= control_pointreg_gcp.net onet=control_jigsaw.net update=no
qnet
jigsaw fromlist=cube.lis radius=no twist=yes cnet= control_pointreg.net onet=control_jigsaw.net observations=no update=no
qnet
jigsaw fromlist=cube.lis radius=yes twist=yes cnet= control_pointreg.net onet=control_jigsaw.net observations=no update=no
qnet
jigsaw fromlist=cube.lis radius=yes twist=yes cnet= control_pointreg.net onet=control_jigsaw.net observations=no update=no camsolve=velocities
qnet

After iterating many times, I eventually produced a control network and jigsaw result that had a sigma0 of .34 pixels. However, if we’re to write this camera solution to file and then make a DEM, we would see that I have worse alignment with LOLA than if we hadn’t bundle adjusted at all.

So how can we get a good bundle adjustment result that aligns well with LOLA? One idea would be to pick GCPs directly against LOLA using their gridded data product. I know folks in the USGS who have done exactly this. However I don’t even see how they can determine correct alignment, so I’m going to ‘nix that idea. Another idea would be to have Jigsaw not solve for radius (radius=no), but instead use only the radius values provided by LOLA. This will keep problem in the ball park, but the resulting jigsaw solution will have a sigma0 around 15 pixels! Not solving for radius essentially ties our hands behind our back in the case of LRO-NAC when our radius source is so incredibly low res.

What we need instead is to simply constrain / rubber-band our Control Points to have radius values that are similar to LOLA. Unfortunately, how do we determine what correct Lat Long to sample the LOLA radius for each control measure? My solution was to not define that. I did two things: (1) I changed all my control measures from ‘free’ to ‘constrained’ with a sigma of 200,200,50. This can be performed with cneteditor. (2) I then wrote and ran the following bash script.

#/bin/env bash

input_control=control_pointreg_all_constrained.net
radius_source=/Users/zmoratto/Data/Moon/LROWAC/DTM/WAC_GLD100_E300N2250_100M.lvl2.cub

cp $input_control control_loop.net

for i in {0..100}; do
    echo Iteration $i
    cnetnewradii cnet= control_loop.net onet= output.net model= $radius_source getlatlon= adjusted
    mv output.net control_loop.net
    jigsaw fromlist=cube.lis radius=yes twist=yes cnet= control_loop.net  onet= output.net update=yes spsolve= position camsolve= velocities
    mv output.net control_loop.net

done

Your mind should be blown at this point. I’ve essentially written an iterative closest point algorithm using the ISIS utilities jigsaw and cnetnewradii. This process is only able to work because we have a perfect control network that we vetted with the previous jigsaw runs. This also works because our LOLA data here is not flat, and has plenty of texture. Finally, LRO-NAC was close to the correct solution. Imagine images with horrible attitude data, like Apollo, would just blow up with this technique.

On each iteration, the sigma0 shouldn’t change. Or if it changes, it should be extremely small. That’s because a translation or scale change of the control points and camera location has no effect on the reprojection error. What should be reducing on each iteration is the standard deviation of the radius correction for each control point as listed in bundleout.txt. The sparse 3D model of the problem in Jigsaw is slowly fitting itself to the LOLA DEM but constrained only by the camera geometry. The standard deviation of the radius correction will never go to zero and will eventually plateau. This is because there will always be some error against LOLA since large portions of the measurements are interpolations between orbits.

Disclaimer: I’ve only tried this technique for this LRO-NAC stereo pair. I don’t know if it will work for others. However this was the only technique I could come up with that would produce results that best aligned with LOLA. I couldn’t get anything good to come out of using WAC Image Mosaic GCPs.

Map projecting for Stereo

Now that we have an updated ephemeris, we’re ready to perform a map projection to speed up stereo. Be sure to not accidentally spiceinit your files, which would wipe your updated ephemeris. Notice that I’m map projecting everything at a low resolution. This is because I’m in a hurry for this demo. In a production environment for LRO-NAC, we would likely map project at 1 MPP or 0.5 MPP. This step and ASP’s triangulation are usually the longest part of this entire process.

parallel cam2map pixres=mpp resolution=5 from={} to={/.}.map.cub ::: ../*cal.cub

Running ASP

Nothing special here, I’m just processing the LE-LE, RE-RE, and LE-RE combination. RE-LE stereo pair wouldn’t resolve anything at 5 m/px. Afterwards, I gdalbuildvrt the outputs together. The massive lines separating the individual DEMs that make up this stereo pair may concern you. However that effect will diminish if I had map projected my inputs at a higher resolution. The reason being that, correlation is much like convolution, in that we erode the input image by a half kernel size along the image border. That border gets perceivably smaller if the image is of higher resolution.

parallel -n 2 stereo M125713813{1}.cal.map.cub M125720601{2}.cal.map.cub {1}{2}/{1}{2} ::: LE LE RE RE LE RE
parallel -n2 point2dem -r moon --t_srs \"+proj=eqc +lat_ts=37 +lat_0=0 +lon_0=180 +x_0=0 +y_0=0 +a=1737400 +b=1737400 +units=m +no_defs\" --tr 5 --orthoimage {1}{2}/{1}{2}-L.tif {1}{2}/{1}{2}-PC.tif --nodata -32767 ::: LE LE RE RE LE RE
gdalbuildvrt aspba_drg.vrt */*-DRG.tif
gdalbuildvrt aspba_dem.vrt */*-DEM.tif
parallel gdal_translate -co TILED=yes -co COMPRESS=LZW -of GTiff {} {.}.tif ::: *.vrt

Conclusion and Comparison

Now the moment you’ve been waiting for. The point where I have to prove I’m not crazy. I have three versions of this stereo pair. There is the result produced by ASU using SOCET SET and then there’s ASP with and without Bundle Adjustment. The look of ASP’s result will be a little shoddy because I map projected my input at 5 m/px which prevent me from get the most detail out. It did however save me a lot processing time while I experimented this method out.

Here are the hillshades for those 3 datasets overlaid a hillshade of the LRO-WAC Global DTM which is 100 m/px. There’s not much to tell, but you can at least see that everyone seems to have decent horizontal alignment.

Here are the difference maps between those 3 datasets and the LRO-WAC Global DTM.

Here are the difference maps between those 3 datasets and the LOLA Gridded Data Product, which I resampled to 100 m/px. I think this shows straight forward the improvement bundle adjustment made to the output DEM.

Just for giggles, I also did a difference between the ASU DEM and the bundle adjusted ASP DEM. They’re pretty close to each other. There seems to just be a simple tilt between the two or that the ASP DEM is just shifted to a slightly lower latitude. Who’s more correct is anyone’s guess for now.

 

Ideally at this point I would then compare the ASU DEM and the BA’d ASP DEM against the raw LOLA shot points. This is where curiosity got me and where I move on to the next personal project. Maybe someone else would be interested in a more rigorous review.

Also, I’m not sure if the 5th image is required.