NASA Releases Interactive 3-D Views of Space Station, New Mars Rover

May 7, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- 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 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 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.

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 Exploration Program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

NASA's Photosynth collection can be viewed at: www.nasa.gov/photosynth .


The NASA images also can be viewed on Microsoft’s Virtual Earth Web site at: www.microsoft.com/virtualearth .

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: 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 in March. The rover images were taken of a full-scale model in a Mars-simulation testing area at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. 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.

Source: JPL/ (news : web)

Explore further: One Mars Orbiter Takes First Photos of Other Orbiters

Related Stories

Space Station video now live on Internet -- mostly

March 11, 2009

(AP) -- NASA has started beaming live video from just outside the International Space Station, but there's a catch: The online feeds are available only when the station's crew is asleep or off duty.

NASA publishes 2008 space calendar

January 21, 2008

The U.S. space agency has published a calendar that highlights 50 years of its milestones, including the first decade of the International Space Station.

NASA Amends Crew Assignment for STS-126 Mission

November 21, 2007

NASA has replaced a crew member assigned to space shuttle mission STS-126. Astronaut Donald R. Pettit will take the place of astronaut Joan E. Higginbotham, who has left NASA to accept a position in the private sector. The ...

NASA to Rotate Station Astronauts on Next Shuttle Mission

April 26, 2007

After several months working aboard the International Space Station, NASA astronaut Suni Williams will come back to Earth aboard the space shuttle Atlantis, targeted for launch June 8. That shuttle mission, STS-117, will ...

Recommended for you

NASA telescope studies quirky comet 45P

November 22, 2017

When comet 45P zipped past Earth early in 2017, researchers observing from NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility, or IRTF, in Hawai'i gave the long-time trekker a thorough astronomical checkup. The results help fill in crucial ...

Uncovering the origins of galaxies' halos

November 21, 2017

Using the Subaru Telescope atop Maunakea, researchers have identified 11 dwarf galaxies and two star-containing halos in the outer region of a large spiral galaxy 25 million light-years away from Earth. The findings, published ...

Cassini image mosaic: A farewell to Saturn

November 21, 2017

In a fitting farewell to the planet that had been its home for over 13 years, the Cassini spacecraft took one last, lingering look at Saturn and its splendid rings during the final leg of its journey and snapped a series ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.