Northeastern Section - 49th Annual Meeting (2325 March)
Paper No. 28-1
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-4:15 PM

THE GIGAPAN GUIDE TO MARS: USING A VIRTUAL FIELD TRIP TO COMPARE EARTH AND MARS

JOHNSON, Jessica M., Dept. of Physics and Earth Sciences, Central Connecticut State University, 1615 Stanley St, New Britain, CT 06050, johnsonj@my.ccsu.edu and PIATEK, Jennifer L., Dept. of Physics and Earth Sciences, Central Connecticut State University, 506 Copernicus Hall, 1615 Stanley St, New Britain, CT 06050

This project compares local outcrops in Connecticut with those found on Mars to ultimately create a field experience that illustrates the similarities between the geology of Mars and Earth. This experience utilizes high resolution panoramic photos of these outcrops collected with a GigaPan robotic camera mount. The terrestrial pans are paired with images from Mars rovers (including the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity and the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity) to allow users to compare and contrast the two landscapes.

GigaPan technology utilizes photographs taken at the maximum zoom of the camera to generate highly detailed panoramas. The robot is designed to work with most standard digital cameras: it requires the user to set a top left corner and a bottom right corner for the image and then takes a series of overlapping photos within that grid. The GigaPan Stitch software takes the field photos and matches them up to create the full panorama. These pans are then uploaded to the GigaPan website (http://www.gigapan.com, our pans tagged with CCSU-Mars), where they can be described with captions, annotated with snapshots (“bookmarks” of interesting features within the pan), and georeferenced (location viewable on a map).

The outcrops that we chose portray geologic similarities between Mars and Earth, including both igneous and sedimentary outcrops. For example, a series of outcrops of Triassic aged lake sediments (East Berlin formation) illustrating changes in climate. These kinds of outcrops provide a potential comparison to layered deposits observed on Mars (such as the layers observed by Opportunity in craters in Meridiani Planum). The objective is to illustrate how similar features found on Mars may indicate the presence of ancient water and allow us to interpret how it sculpted the surface of Mars.

The ultimate goal of this project is a field trip guide that illustrates differences and similarities of the geomorphology of Earth and Mars, utilizing outcrops that are local (for use in classes), although the panoramas can serve as a virtual field trip when travel to these locations is not possible. Field trips are influential in the understanding the comparative nature of planetary science, and put Mars into a greater perspective as Martian landscapes can be compared directly to actual outcrops.

Northeastern Section - 49th Annual Meeting (2325 March)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 28--Booth# 36
Gaining a Greater Understanding of Mars from Gale Crater and Beyond (Posters)
Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square: Freedom Hall A
1:30 PM-4:15 PM, Sunday, 23 March 2014


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