May 7, 2009

NASA, Microsoft release 3-D space pictures

The U.S. space agency has released an interactive photographic Web collection of 3-D views of the International Space Station and the next Mars rover.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Microsoft Corp.'s Virtual Earth team have posted hundreds of photographs, along with Microsoft's photo imaging technology called Photosynth, on the Web.

NASA said viewers, using a click-and-drag interface, 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 NASA's space operations. 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 Mars rover imagery gives viewers an opportunity to preview the hardware of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory, which is being assembled for launch in 2011.

The photos can be viewed at and at