Charlie Lindgren's students working with NIH software and image processing
In conjunction with the P.E.T. Project we also studied what instruments were on and how the instruments on Global Surveyor and Pathfinder/Sojourner worked. I did this as a voluntary project because we only have two Internet links in the building so a general assignment was out of the question. About four or five students in each class accepted the task and presented a program that lasted for a full 42-minute class! I gave them the "Mars Team Online" URL as a starting point, and they went from there. One instrument that sparked the interest of each group was the Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) found on the Global Surveyor. We created a great demonstration of what this instrument does, and many of you should be able to do it, too.
As my students understood it, TES takes an infrared photograph of the Martian surface. Somehow the NASA scientists have been able to measure the amount of heat that different minerals emit as a color. Because of this scientists will be able to look at the TES photograph and identify the minerals on the surface of Mars. How to show this?
What we did was to take a photograph of a rock sample (in this case lava from Fillmore, Utah) using an 8-bit black and white camera. The image was then pasted into the NIH imaging software. Then we took this dull, black and white image, went under Options to Color Table and selected "system." The end result is a beautiful color mosaic.
This really isn't doing the same thing as TES because it is using visible light. It is assigning a different color to each shade of grey, but the students had no trouble understanding the concept. It was a great hit.
Feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to discuss this.