3D reconstructions for comet research by DIGITAL in a Nature publication.

The research results „The Philae lander reveals low-strength primitive ice inside cometary boulders” were published in the scientific Nature article on 28th October, 2020. DIGITAL, the institute for information and communication technologies of JOANNEUM RESEARCH, contributed to the discovery with 3D vision methods.

Comet surface.
Comet surface. JOANNEUM RESEARCH/ Paar & Caballo. Credits: ROSETTA / PHILAE / OSIRIS Team


The publication “The Philae lander reveals low strength primitive ice inside cometary boulders” by an international research team highlights new studies that delve into observations collected by ESA’s probe Philae on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko using – among others – the COmetary SAmpling and Composition (COSAC) instrument, and thus contributes to a deeper understanding of the history of life on Earth. Gerhard Paar and Maria del Pilar Caballo Perucha, Experts of JOANNEUM RESEARCH DIGITAL, are co-authors of the publication.


JOANNEUM RESEARCH is dedicated to Space research and technology since 1978. DIGITAL -  Institute for Information and Communication Technologies is focusing on the following competence areas: Satellite communications and navigation, microwave propagation and radar technology, development of space-qualified hard-and software, verification and optimisation of systems and services in field trials, processing of data from active and passive space-and airborne sensors and space robotics.

It is a highly recognised partner in a large number of projects by the European Space Agency ESA, the European Union, international and national space industry and research establishments as well as foreign national space agencies such as NASA, ASI and DLR.

3D reconstructions for comet research. Data: ESA/ROSETTA/PHILAE/OSIRIS Team. Credit (Video, Sound Track): JOANNEUM RESEARCH/Gerhard Paar.

Within the framework of the published scientific study, Maria del Pilar Caballo Perucha (Key Researcher at DIGITAL) and Gerhard Paar (Space Robotics Research & Instruments Team Lead at DIGITAL) have worked on 3D reconstructions of surface regions on comet Churyumov-Gerassimenko. Using visualization methods by the Vienna Center for Virtual Reality and Visualization (VRVis), a video containing a simulated overflight of the affected region was created. The applied methods had been successfully tested in research work for the 3D reconstruction of planetary surfaces during Mars and Asteroid missions, where for Mars-2020 (landing on Mars in February 2021) and ExoMars (landing in spring 2023) the 3D vision methods for the processing of the panoramic camera images are being provided.

In the coming years, DIGITAL will continue to contribute to image-based navigation and the autonomy of space probes on planetary surfaces. The 3D reconstruction approach will also be implemented in the future ESA HERA mission, that will investigate the crater from impact by the earlier US probe “DART” to the double asteroid system Didymos in 2026.



More Information:

Publication “The Philae lander reveals low strength primitive ice inside cometary boulders” is available at the following URL: