Microsoft's telescope gets a better view of Mars

The software maker has teamed with NASA to offer much more expansive imagery. Other improvements to the telescope make the seams between individual images much less visible and add an improved spherical image of the full sky.

Microsoft's improvements to its Worldwide Telescope project include tons of additional Mars images from NASA. Courtesy of Microsoft/NASA

Microsoft has made a number of improvements to its Worldwide Telescope project , including partnering with NASA to offer much better imagery of the planet Mars.

In some cases, the imagery lets you get close enough to see details such as the tracks left by the Mars rovers .

"You can see the boulders and things like that," Dan Fay, director of Earth, Energy, and Environment for Microsoft Research. Microsoft previously teamed with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory on a Mars project that let youngsters and other space enthusiasts help count and label craters on the planet's surface.

With these changes, the telescope will gain several different new views of Mars as well as guided tours from some of NASA's experts on Earth's neighbor.

The addition of Mars imagery is one of several changes to the telescope that Microsoft is showing off Monday at its annual Faculty Summit meeting with outside researchers.

Other improvements to the telescope include an effort to add an improved spherical image of the full sky and make the seams between individual still images much less visible.

In all, the telescope is now based on a terapixel image of the known universe. To put that in relative terms, Fay said it would take 500,000 HDTVs to show the image in its full fidelity.

"We don't think there are any other images that are larger than this," he said.

The enhancements will be available on both the downloadable Windows version of the telescope, the Web-based version and on the telescope imagery used within Bing Maps .

 

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