Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 9:05 AM


PIATEK, Jennifer L., Dept. of Physics and Earth Sciences, Central Connecticut State University, 506 Copernicus Hall, 1615 Stanley St, New Britain, CT 06050,

Geology and astronomy are inherently visual subjects that lend well to presentation of concepts via observation of images. Exercises in planetary science courses often ask students to apply basic geologic concepts to interpret landscapes in spacecraft datasets; the same images can be used in non-planetary geology courses to illustrate the same concepts. Zoomable high resolution panoramas such as GigaPans allow students to observe landscapes and outcrops at multiple levels of detail. When combined with similar images from spacecraft datasets and additional scales of view (satellite, hand samples), these images allow students to explore terrestrial analogs and their planetary counterparts as they might in the field.

GigaPans are high resolution panoramas generated with a GigaPan robotic mount and a digital camera: a series of photographs are taken over a user-defined grid, then combined using the GigaPan Stitch application. The resulting image captures the full panoramic view but preserves the smallest details visible to the camera. When uploaded to the GigaPan website (, pans can be captioned and georeferenced for viewing in Google Earth. The web-based viewer allows the user to pan and zoom within the image and to bookmark specific locations via "snapshots". High resolution images from other sources (such as satellite or thin section images) can also be uploaded for viewing in a similar manner.

Example exercises include comparison of sedimentary structures such as crossbedding (e.g. and changes in rock type related to local changes in climate (lake sediment sequences, to rover panoramas from Mars. Erosional/depositional processes observed on Earth (e.g. river meanders, and can be related to satellite views and then compared to Mars via Google Earth. These types of activities can serve as "virtual field trips" to terrestrial analogs.