Extensions:2.6/Py/Scripts/Import-Export/HiRISE DTM from PDS IMG

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Import a HiRISE DTM that is formatted as a PDS IMG file and creates an appropriate mesh
UI location File > Import > HiRISE terrain model
Version 0.2.2 Author(s) Nicholas Wolf
Blender 2.78 License GPLv2

Executable information
File name io_convert_image_to_mesh_img/__init__.py,io_convert_image_to_mesh_img/import_img.py



This plugin allows you to import a Mars Surface from the HiRISE project directly into Blender.


This script imports a standard HiRISE DTM (*.IMG), reads the embedded PDS label and decodes the raster elevations to create a mesh in the current view. The lowest value of the DTM is set to Z=0 in blender coordinates and the upper left corner of the image is placed at X=0,Y=0 in the Blender world.

Different Resolutions

Since HiRISE DTMs are quite large for most machines that Blender runs on today, the script has the ability to sample/average portions of the image into single pixels which effectively reduces the resolution but also reduces the amount of time/memory that Blender needs to work with the DTM. Re-importing a higher resolution later on will place the DTM in exactly the same place that the original DTM was imported to (size/scale matching as well) so that creating animations/previews can be done with much less effort.

This is really useful for prototyping your scene. Import a low-res version, get all of your animation/modeling done and rendered and then import a higher resolution mesh for the final render.

A few words on scale

When importing for the first time, leave the scale=0.01 so that the mesh is not huge. Setting scale=1 will map the DTM coordinates 1:1 with Blender units. The result is a very large mesh that can't be viewed easily in the default view.


1) choose a published HiRISE DTM from http://www.uahirise.org/dtm

ImportHiRISE DTM ChooseWebDTM.jpeg

2) download the linked "DTM" image Warning: these files can be quite large

ImportHiRISE DTM WebView.jpeg

3) Inside of Blender navigate:

   File -> Import -> HiRISE DTM from PDS IMG (*.IMG)

4) Select the DTM and desired settings

ImportHiRISE DTM Settings.jpeg

 a) Select your bin/scale settings.
Binning Methods
None This will import the DTM without downsampling. Warning: this can take a lot of memory
2x2 Create one value for each 2x2 region of the DTM by averaging them
6x6 Create one value for each 6x6 region of the DTM by averaging them
6x6 Fast Create one value for each 6x6 region of the DTM by sampling a single value
12x12 Create one value for each 12x12 region of the DTM by averaging them
12x12 Fast Create one value for each 12x12 region of the DTM by sampling a single value
 b) Select the DTM you downloaded
 c) Select the "Import HiRISE DTM" button to start the import

5) Now just wait. NB: These DTMs are big and take a whole lot of floating point manipulation to import.

6) Enjoy/manipulate/render the surface of mars as you would any other mesh in Blender.


1) Download the files into a folder named "io_mesh_img".

2) Open User Preferences (File -> User Preferences)

3) Select the "Add-Ons" tab

4) Click the "Install Add-On" button at the bottom of the window

5) Navigate to the io_mesh_img folder and click the "Install Add-On" button

6) Type in "HiRISE" into the search field and enable the plugin:

Import/Export: HiRISE DTM from PDS IMG

The latest plugin

Warning: this may be broken from time to time or include features that are new/untested.

Latest Files in SVN