Microsoft, NASA offer 3D photos of Endeavour

Microsoft, NASA team up for 3D montage of Space Shuttle Endeavour using PhotoSynth

To highlight the launch of the U.S. Space Shuttle Endeavour Tuesday, Microsoft has teamed up with NASA to provide exclusive 3D views of the craft and a look at how the space agency prepares it for launch using Microsoft's Photosynth technology.

Microsoft acquired Photosynth when it purchased a Seattle-based startup called Seadragon in February 2006. The technology takes standard two-dimensional digital images of similar things, examines their similarities and turns them into a new 3D environment. Users then can fly through the scene and look at the images from different angles, or zoom in to specific parts of the 3D images.

In the past two weeks, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) gave Microsoft "unprecedented access" to Endeavour, letting photographers snap pictures of the craft in a way that has never been seen in public before, said Chris Kemp, director of strategic business development at NASA Ames Research Center in Palo Alto, California. The center collaborated with Microsoft's Live Labs team in Seattle and the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on the project.

"You can see the shuttle in times when no one has access," he said. Microsoft was able to photograph the shuttle as it is being wheeled onto the launch pad, called Launch Pad 39A, at dawn, as well as close-up views of NASA workers lifting the shuttle onto the rocket boosters it needs for launch.

To take other photos, Microsoft and NASA flew a helicopter around the shuttle and snapped shots from different angles, Kemp said. Also included in the Photosynth 3D montages of the project are shots of the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center.

Kemp said that NASA is contemplating the use of Photosynth to provide 3D images of other projects, including views of the International Space Station and the Hubble Space Telescope, or even to view landing sites on the Moon and the planet Mars.

Photosynth is managed by Microsoft Live Labs, a research division aimed at developing innovative Web-based technologies. Photosynth gives Web users the ability to create 3D images with even the lowest-resolution digital photos, said Adam Sheppard, group product manager for Microsoft Live Labs.

"The barriers to entry are extremely small here," he said. "You can use a cell-phone camera or a standard digital camera ... or capture extremely high-resolution megapixel images, and put them all together to create a massive 3-D multigigapixel arrangements."

Wednesday's Endeavour mission, officially called STS 118, will take seven astronauts, one of whom is a schoolteacher, to the International Space Station to continue repair work on the station, Kemp said. Specifically, astronauts will be delivering a truss segment that links two different modules of the station.

The collection of Endeavour photos can be viewed online beginning Monday.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Elizabeth Montalbano

IDG News Service
Show Comments


James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >


Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?