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Microsoft and NASA bring Mars to the "WorldWide Telescope" application

Just to process the high-resolution images from the HiRISE camera on the Mars Orbiter MRO required NASA a powerful cloud and the processing power of 114 central processors for two weeks, and this was just one of the facilities that the images they captured are available from today to tour in Microsoft's WorldWide Telescope software

A wide-angle NASA image compiled from all the photographs sent by satellites that orbited Mars from Viking in the XNUMXs to today's Martian orbits provides a spectacular view of Vallis Marineris - the Grand Canyon of Mars in the WorldWide Telescope screenshot. Photo: NASA/Microsoft
A wide-angle NASA image compiled from all the photographs sent by satellites that orbited Mars from Viking in the XNUMXs to today's Martian orbits provides a spectacular view of Vallis Marineris - the Grand Canyon of Mars in the WorldWide Telescope screenshot. Photo: NASA/Microsoft

NASA and Microsoft have announced a new computerized experience for users of Microsoft's WorldWide Telescope software (a competitor to Google's Google Earth), which allows visitors to interactively navigate and explore the solar system. Viewers can now take exclusive tours of Mars, hear lectures from NASA scientists and view the most detailed images possible, and the largest possible coverage of the Martian surface. To explore Mars up close, Microsoft and NASA encouraged surfers to download their software WWT|Mars experience .

Dan Faye, Director of Earth, Energy and Environmental Research at Microsoft works with scientists around the world to explore how technology can solve their research challenges. Since the beginning of 2009, he has been working together with NASA to make the images from NASA's Mars and Moon missions accessible and to bring them to life, as well as to make them a valuable source of information for the masses. "We wanted to make it easier for people all over the world, as well as scientists, to access these valuable and unique images," Fay said.

To create the Mars experience on the WorldWide Telescope, Faye worked with Michael Broxton of the Intelligence Robotics Division (IRG) at NASA's Ames Center. Broxton and his team have applied computer vision and image processing systems to solve problems in cartography (map drawing) Over the years, this team of mapmakers has turned NASA satellite images of Mars, the Moon, and other planets into useful maps. According to Broxton, making the images produced by NASA available to the general public is part of the mission."

"Through projects like the WorldWide Telescope we are able to provide better access so that future generations of scientists can discover space in their own way."

According to Broxton, one of the technological challenges was the resolution of the images, which was so high that it took NASA three years to process the raw images. Anyone who has tried to edit a photo from a digital camera knows that the computer takes a few seconds to do it, but these are images that are a hundred times larger and more, and in addition, there are 13 thousand such images. Multiply the number of tasks by a few dozen and you begin to see that it will be difficult to complete the project. Broxton used Nebula, NASA's high-performance computing cloud to process the image data. To process the HiRISE images, 14 running days of 114 processors were required and it contains all the knowledge collected by the camera until May 2010.

For information on the NASA website

One response

  1. Fascinating and interesting article...
    I am doing work as part of a course in parallel computing, and I would be happy to receive more details about the use of parallel computing here by email.

    Many thanks in advance

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