Narrator: This is Science Today. Geologists and computer scientists at the University of California, Davis have teamed up to develop new software that takes virtual data and turns it into 3-D, interactive objects and environments that can be manipulated in a lab. Geologist Dawn Sumner says that the technology opens up a whole new realm of looking at objects such as rocks.
Sumner: Now I can actually take that back to the lab and I can take a rock and I can digitally reconstruct it, and I can look inside of it; something I can't do with a physical rock. I like looking at rocks and the shapes that are preserved and trying to interpret how the water was flowing, or how the organisms that are fossilized in them are growing.
Narrator: Sumner is part of the Mars Science Laboratory landing site working group that is using this technology to prepare for the next rover mission to Mars in 2012.
Sumner: One of the main goals for the Mars Science Laboratory mission is to characterize ancient environment on Mars and understand whether or not it could have supported life.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.