NASA, Microsoft Launch Collaboration With Immersive Photography
WASHINGTON - On Monday, NASA and Microsoft Corporation of Redmond, Wash., released an interactive, 3-D photographic collection of the space shuttle Endeavour preparing for its upcoming mission to the International Space Station. Endeavour is scheduled to launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday, Aug. 8 at 6:36 p.m. EDT.
For the first time, people around the world can view hundreds of high resolution photographs of Endeavour, Launch Pad 39A, and the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy in a unique 3-D viewer. NASA and Microsoft's Live Labs team developed the online experience using hundreds of photographs and a photo imaging technology called Photosynth. Using a click-and-drag interface, viewers can zoom in to see intimate details of the shuttle booster rockets or zoom out for a more global view of the launch facility. The software uses photographs from standard digital cameras to construct a 3-D view that can be navigated and explored online. The NASA images can be viewed at Microsoft's Live Labs at: http://labs.live.com
"This collaboration with Microsoft gives the public a new way to explore and participate in America's space program," said William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for Space Operations, Washington. "We're also looking into using this new technology to support future missions."
"With Photosynth, we take pictures of an environment and knit them together into an experience that people can move through like a 3-D video game," said Microsoft Live Labs Architect Blaise Aguera y Arcas. "NASA provided us with some outstanding images, and the result is an experience that will wow anyone wanting to get a closer look at NASA's missions."
The NASA collections were created in collaboration between Microsoft's Live Lab, Kennedy and NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
"We see potential to use Photosynth for a variety of future mission activities, from inspecting the International Space Station and the Hubble Space Telescope to viewing landing sites on the moon and Mars," said Chris C. Kemp, director of Strategic Business Development at Ames.
Photosynth was created in collaboration between Microsoft and the University of Washington. The software combines hundreds or thousands of regular digital photos of a scene to present a detailed 3-D model of a subject, giving viewers the sensation of smoothly gliding around the scene from every angle. A collection can be constructed using photos from a single source or multiple sources. The NASA Photosynth collection also includes the return of the space shuttle Atlantis to the Kennedy Shuttle Landing Facility from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in July.
Microsoft Live Labs is an applied research organization focused on the incubation of innovative, Internet technologies to improve and accelerate the next evolution of Microsoft's Internet products and services.
For more information about space shuttle Endeavour's STS-118 mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle
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