GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 200-11
Presentation Time: 10:45 AM


PYLE, Eric, BS, MS, PhD; FGS, FGSA, Department of Geology & Environmental Science, James Madison University, MSC 6903, Harrisonburg, VA 22807

One of the central issues in teaching planetary geology concepts, whether in an introductory or upper division class, is not a paucity of available data, but rather the raging torrent of available data. How, for instance, does one even begin to wade into the deep end of data pool and begin to select a starting point for what is needed to meet instructional objectives? This problem is magnified for pre-college instructors, for whom many objectives are prescribed by state curricula, but the means to enact instruction based on contemporary space-based data were not part of their preparation programs. These data are not just visual, but are available for spectroscopic analysis to provide inferences about surface chemistry and mineralogy. Given the level of resolution available through the most recent spacecraft, specific features can be identified for more detailed analysis. Combined with ground-based data from landers and rovers, the vast amount of data available can be seen as a problem of data integration in the service of varying levels of instruction, across grades 6-16.

This presentation will outline the means by which a freely-available software package, JMARS (Java Mission planning Analysis and Remote Sensing) can serve as a gateway platform for selecting data sources, providing specific and time-based analyses of planetary bodies, and designing virtual field experiences for which field trips are currently inaccessible except through vicarious experiences. Set in the context of laboratory experiences for undergraduate geology coursework, this presentation will share instructional activities and assessment approaches for preservice elementary and secondary science teachers, Earth science & geology majors, and for capstone geology mapping experiences through which JMARS has provided the means for selecting visual and hyperspectral data from orbit for planetary bodies, but also how to integrate these data sources with other data sources, both from official sources, such as the MER and MSL Analyst’s Notebooks, and NASA’s Planet Treks, and from unofficial sources, such as Midnight Planets and Celestia. Guided experiences, laboratory activities, and capstone experience descriptions, data sources, rubrics, and sources, such as the NAGT-sponsored and SERC-supported Virtual Field Learning will be provided.