SPEC Meeting 2

On February 16 and 17 the second SPEC meeting of VaMEx3 took place at the University of the Bundeswehr Munich. In total about 20 people participated in the meeting. Michael Schleiss presented a rough mission concept on Mars. The vision is to cover an area of approx. 14km x 14km on Mars to explore and map as well as to perform in smaller regions of interest such as drilling and sampling. to be carried out.

The key outcome of the SPEC meeting is a rough schedule of the VaMEx3 final presentation. Responsible project participants were also assigned to the major hardware and software components so that everyone should know what to do next. Furthermore, the project partners from Anavs, Aerospace Information Technology – University of Würzburg and TUM presented their swarm participants. In addition, the VaMEx3 Virtual Test Bed (VTB) was presented, which will be used to simulate the Mars mission. The VTB combines Unreal Engine 5 and ROS2 communication. In the near future, each project partner has to define requirements for the VTB in order to implement a simulation as realistic as possible.

Another important point was the presentation of possible test areas for the VaMEx3 demonstration. Volker Klein presented different areas in Germany, whereby these should have good accessibility and infrastructure. The focus is on regions of open pit coal mining due to the similarity to the surface of Mars. By fall 2023, further information will be obtained for the regions Garzweiler, Groitscher Dreieck, Lausitz and Eifel.

VaMEx-AE has received new optical sensors

The newest member among our the optical sensors weighs in at a total of 100 grams, and it didn’t come alone! Together with the somewhat larger lens, the camera system from Basler weighs a total of 330 grams. As one or the other experienced reader might have guessed, this system will be used for mapping the exploration area.

Furthermore, AE reports that a first mobile test setup for mapping has been set up for field tests. It currently consists of an Nvidia Jetson TX2 mounted on an AUVIDEA carrier board, the Ueye UI-5140CP-M-GL Rev.2 as camera for tracking and the compact “Ellipse-N” from SBG Systems.  The system set up in this way can easily be strapped under a small quadrocopter with a maximum take-off weight of 3 kilograms for initial tests and to collect initial data.

Step by step, our LiDAR, a Hokuyo-UTM 30 LX and the new camera system will be integrated into the test setup.

First UE5 prototype VR testbed with multi-user support and level streaming completed

During November, the first prototype of the new Unreal Engine 5-based Virtual Testbed was completed. This now uses the advanced lighting and rendering methods from the current Unreal Engine version (especially Nanite and Lumen) and thus offers a significantly higher graphics quality.

To allow multiple users to explore the testbed together, the first elements of a session-based multi-user system have been integrated: Users can choose a name at program start and then either start their own session or join an existing one by entering IP and port.

Furthermore, first landscapes from the existing virtual testbed were ported to the new one and adapted for the use of Unreal’s level streaming system. This allows to dynamically load (only) the areas of the level that are currently visible. Ultimately, larger worlds can be rendered in a performant way.

New Node editor plugin library for CosmoScout VR released

In order to enable the interactive analysis of satellite data in the Mission Control tool in the medium term, a new plugin library for CosmoScout VR has been developed in recent weeks. The plugin library allows to model complex data flows using a node editor.

The node editor uses a web server that provides a web page on a specific port via HTTP. The user can access this frontend with a web browser and start creating a node diagram. For each node or connection created, a C++ counterpart is instantiated by the plugin library.

All data flow takes place on the C++ side, the web frontend is “only” a visualization of the graph. This separation allows the graph to be displayed both in the UI of CosmoScout VR (since the UI is rendered using web technologies) and on external devices.

VaMEx-3 Kick-Off Meeting

On September 30, 2022, the project partners came together for the kickoff meeting of VaMEx-3 at the German Space Agency at DLR in Bonn. The German Space Agency, the INVENT GmbH, the DSI Aerospace Technologie GmbH, the FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg, the University of the Federal Armed Forces Munich, the Julius-Maximilians-University Würzburg, the Technical University Braunschweig, the Technical University Munich and various institutes of the University of Bremen were present.