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Friday, 8 May 2009

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

News release: 2009-080                  May 7, 2009

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 .

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 .

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 .  For more
information about the Mars Science Laboratory, visit .  JPL, a
division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science
Laboratory Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.


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