Microsoft teams up with NASA

NASA and Microsoft have teamed up to give people a 3D photographic look at the space shuttle Endeavor before its launch this week, in a public-private partnership that could lead to more use of digital imagery in future space-agency missions.

Microsoft on Monday released a downloadable viewer including hundreds of photos of the space shuttle, NASA's vehicle assembly building and the shuttle's launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center (Endeavor is scheduled for flight Wednesday.) The viewer, created with Microsoft's Photosynth technology, gives people a three-dimensional perspective on the space center, letting people zoom in for a close-up, high-resolution look at heat tiles on the shuttle, for example, or zoom out to see a panoramic of Cape Canaveral. The technology automatically knits together digital photos to give people a perspective from many angles.

"It's much like a 3D video game - people can explore, walk around or fly around the shuttle," said Adam Sheppard, group product manager for Microsoft Live Labs, which developed the viewer.

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