Robert J. Macke, S.J.
Curator of the Vatican Observatory Meteorite Collection
11 a.m. EST, Saturday February 20th
The use of 3d scanning and computer models in the laboratory study of extraterrestrial materials
Measuring physical properties such as density generally involves physical contact with the specimen (e.g. immersion in fluid or in a “fluid of solids” such as beads). Recent improvements in effectiveness and accessibility of laser scanners allow for contactless study of extraterrestrial materials such as meteorites and moon rocks. Computer models are constructed of the specimen, from which volume and density can be calculated. These models can further be used for other purposes, such as computer graphics or 3d printing. More sophisticated scanning techniques, such as computer-aided microtomography, allow for scanning the interiors of meteorites to construct computer models that map pore space or inclusions in-situ.