Microsoft and NASA team up On 3-D space images

WorldWide Telescope, Microsoft’s galactic version of Google Earth, has been steadily increasing its fidelity ever since it launched in 2008, TechNewsDaily reports. Now, thanks to a new collaboration with NASA, WorldWide Telescope has produced the most detailed spherical image of the heavens to date, along with a new 3-D, true color map of the surface of Mars. As part of the new user experience in the WorldWide Telescope, Microsoft is also announcing a first of its kind: a high-resolution spherical TeraPixel sky map now available to viewers within the virtual telescope. The sky map is the largest and highest-quality spherical image of the sky currently available and was created from data provided by the Digitized Sky Survey, a collection of thousands of images taken over a period of 50 years by two ground-based survey telescopes. When those images are combined and processed, the TeraPixel image provides a complete, spherical, panoramic rendering of the night skies that, if displayed at full size, would require 50,000 high-definition televisions to view. The new high-quality image will give scientists with the ability to navigate through space dynamically to make their own discoveries…

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Project lets users explore the cosmos from a PC

Terapixel enables seamless panning and zooming over the entire night sky.
Terapixel enables seamless panning and zooming over the entire night sky.

In a project that aims to pull a new generation of students toward science and technology, Microsoft and NASA have teamed up to create what they say is the largest seamless, spherical map ever made of the night sky, as well as a true-color, high-resolution map of Mars that users can explore on their computers in 3D.

The mission, Microsoft and NASA say, is to inspire today’s students and spark interest in the STEM fields, and it appears to be working: In studying photos of Mars taken by a NASA spacecraft, a group of seventh graders in California earlier this year discovered a previously unknown cave, as well as lava tubes that NASA scientists hadn’t noticed.

“What we’re trying to do at NASA is make our data more accessible,” said Chris Kemp, chief technology officer for NASA, in an interview with eSchool News, “and we’re doing that by connecting students in the classroom and at home to a user-friendly platform.”…Read More