NASA Releases Interactive 3-D Views of Space Station, New Mars Rover
PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA released an interactive, 3-D photographic
collection of internal and external views of the International Space
Station and a model of the next Mars rover on Thursday, May 7.
NASA and Microsoft's Virtual Earth team developed the online experience
with hundreds of photographs and Microsoft's photo imaging technology
called Photosynth. Using a click-and-drag interface, viewers can zoom
in to see details of the space station's modules and solar arrays or
zoom out for a more global view of the complex.
"Photosynth brings the public closer to our spaceflight equipment and
hardware," said Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Space
Operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The space station
pictures are not simulations or graphic representations but actual
images taken recently by astronauts while in orbit. Although you're
not flying 220 miles above the Earth at 17,500 miles an hour, it allows
you to navigate and view amazing details of the real station as though
you were there."
The software uses photographs from standard digital cameras to construct
a 3-D view that can be navigated and explored online.
"This stunning collection of photographs using Microsoft's Photosynth
interactive 3-D imaging technology provides people around the world with
an exciting new way to explore the space station and learn about NASA's
upcoming Mars Science Laboratory mission," said S. Pete Worden, director
of NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. "This collaboration
with Microsoft offers the public the opportunity to participate in future
exploration using this innovative technology."
The Mars rover imagery gives viewers an opportunity to preview the hardware
of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory, currently being assembled for launch to
the Red Planet in 2011.
"We are making this enhanced viewing experience available from the Mars Science
Laboratory project because we're eager for the public to share in the excitement
that's building for this mission," said Fuk Li, manager of NASA's Mars Exploration
Program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
NASA's Photosynth collection can be viewed at http://www.nasa.gov/photosynth
The NASA images also can be viewed on Microsoft's Virtual Earth Web site at
While roaming through different components of the station, the public also can
join in a scavenger hunt. NASA has a list of items that can be found in the Photosynth
collection. These items include a station crew patch, a spacesuit and a bell that is
traditionally used to announce the arrival of a visiting spacecraft. Clues to help in
the hunt will be posted on NASA's Facebook page and @NASA on Twitter. To access these
sites, visit http://www.nasa.gov/collaborate
NASA astronaut Sandra Magnus took the internal images of the space station during the 129
days she lived aboard the complex. She photographed the station's exterior while aboard
the space shuttle Discovery, which flew her back to Earth in March. The rover images were
taken of a full-scale model in a Mars-simulation testing area at JPL. Photosynth has multiple
potential benefits for NASA. Engineers can use it to examine hardware, and astronauts can use
it for space station familiarization training.
Photosynth software allows the combination of up to 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 shuttle
Endeavour preparing for its STS-118 mission in August 2008.
For more information about the space station, visit http://www.nasa.gov/station
For more information about the Mars Science Laboratory, visit http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl
JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars
Science Laboratory Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.
Media contacts: Guy Webster 1-818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Michael Mewhinney 1-650-604-3937
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
John Yembrick 1-202-358-1100