Pilbara to Mars: Are We Alone?
We invite you to step out onto a landscape with a group of some 30 scientists to one of the most ancient vistas on Earth – the Pilbara area of Western Australia. It is here many scientists believe the presence of our earliest ancestors is etched into rocks nearly 3.5 billion years old as stromatolites.
You can take this journey through a set of hi-tech NASA tools:
1. Virtual Field Trip was created in a collaboration between NASA and Macquarie University. It allows students to explore the location where the stromatolites are found and provides them with a guided tour. It links together other tools in the suite, including:
2. Virtual Lab where samples from a 3.5-billion-year-old stromatolite have been scanned into electronic files that can be explored by students using virtual microscopes.
3. A comparative tool called What's the Difference?
4. A visualisation tool, World Wind, which provides a 3D interface with huge datasets relating to our planet.
5. The experience also has a television documentary associated with it and made by Passport to Knowledge. It is being shown on PBS stations in the USA and available on NASA TV.
These tools are all freely downloadable from the links provided above. Please note that the size of some of the downloads is large.
Now on DVD
To make this project more accessible, this suite of tools has been made avilable on a DVD. The DVD will be distributed free with the April 2007 issue of Cosmos magazine.
The DVD contains all of the above programs as well as a Help file to get you started using each one. These Help files can also be accessed through the links below.
Demonstration of Virtual Field Trip tools
These video clips were recorded at the Macquarie ICT Innovations Centre in 2006 when Carol Oliver, from the Australian Centre for Astrobiology, demonstrated the tools for high school students.