Adapting Traditional Macro and Micro Photography for Scientific Gigapixel Imaging

posted Nov 9, 2010, 11:44 AM by Yoni Afek
Authors: 
Jay Longson, NASA Ames, University of California, Santa Cruz.
Gene Cooper, Four Chambers Studio.
Molly Gibson, NASA Ames, EAP.
Rich Gibson, NASA Ames, CMU, Gigapan Project.
John Rawlins, Carnegie Museum of Natural History.
Randy Sargent, Carnegie Mellon University, CMU, Gigapan Project.

Traditionally, GigaPan technology has been used to acquire  high resolution panoramas of large scenes. While this application is useful for many scientific pursuits, it excludes the macro and microscopic realms of scientific research. An increasing number of scientific disciplines (biological, medical, and material science) require high spatial resolution imagery but suffer from an insufficient  lateral field of view.  A mosaic of microscopic images solves this problem by capturing the entire subject while maintaining a high spatial resolution. This paper explores the application of gigapixel imaging technology to the macro, micro, and nano scales. We discuss the design and implementation of three different instrument adaptations that enable automatic mosaic capture of images through optical microscopes, scanning electron microscopes, and macrophotography. This includes a discussion of motion control, focus stacking, and image stitching. The resulting images represent virtual, archival, and explorable specimens.