2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 30-10
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM


HOROWITZ, Seth, The Engine Institute, Warwick, RI 02888 and SCHULTZ, Peter H., Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Science, Brown University, P.O. Box 1846, Providence, RI 02912, neuropop@gmail.com

The availability of digital elevation models now allows reconstructing physical landscapes and bodies of asteroids, comets, and planets. Such landscapes not only produce a visual impact for popular appreciation or teaching but also inform researchers about relationships between geologic history and evolving processes [1]. Moreover, they allow physical representation of other data sets, such as geophysics and remote sensing as well as interpreted geologic sequences and structure. However, we find that some digital elevation data sets are not easily transformed into formats for 3D printing. Consequently, over the last 6 years, the Northeast Planetary Data Center (NEPDC) at Brown University, a member of an international network of Regional Planetary Image Facilities (RPIF’s), has focused on translating digital elevation models from a variety of sources into easy-to-use formats for 3D modeling, printing and virtual reality systems. The rapid growth of the 3D printing industry has resulted in a wide range of new printing systems and materials that allows ever more elaborate modeling of objects and dynamic systems, ranging from cross-sections of terrestrial craters, 3D evolution of experimental impact craters (including the advancing ejecta curtain), traverse mapping, projective future landing sites on Mars and the Moon, and geologic evolution of surfaces. An example of the latter is the geologic evolution of Gale crater, depicted from the time of formation to the period when it was covered up by thick regional deposits, to exhumation, leaving behind the pile of sediments anchored by its central peak. Such models will evolve as new ground truth emerges from NASA’s Curiosity Rover. In the future, we plan to generate 3D models of evolving landscapes similar to the artist renderings of the Moon from the Nectarian to today. As new translated data sets become available, we will include them on both the NEPDC and NASA’s 3D Resources websites. [1] Horowitz, S. and Schultz, P. H. (2014), Jour. Geoscience Education 62, 138-145.