Microsoft Research Illuminates Night Sky and Mars in 3-D With WorldWide Telescope
July 13, 2010

Microsoft Research Illuminates Night Sky and Mars in 3-D With WorldWide Telescope

Redmond, Wash. — At the 11th annual Microsoft Research Faculty Summit, Microsoft Corp. announced the latest version of the WorldWide Telescope and unveiled the largest seamless spherical map ever made of the night sky. Microsoft also released the most complete high-resolution coverage of Mars available, provided through an ongoing collaborative relationship with NASA, allowing WorldWide Telescope users to experience Mars in 3-D.

Microsoft Launches Largest Spherical Map of Sky Ever Created

As part of the new user experience in the WorldWide Telescope, Microsoft is also announcing a first of its kind: a high-resolution spherical TeraPixel sky map now available to viewers within the telescope. The map is the largest and highest-quality spherical image of the sky currently available and was created from data provided by the Digitized Sky Survey, a collection of thousands of images taken over a period of 50 years by two ground-based survey telescopes. When those images are combined and processed, the TeraPixel image provides a complete, spherical, panoramic rendering of the night skies that, if displayed at full size, would require 50,000 high-definition televisions to view. The new high-quality image will provide scientists with the ability to navigate through space dynamically to make their own discoveries.

Creating the TeraPixel image was a massive data-capture process requiring the latest in scientific tools. Microsoft researchers were able to use the Project Trident workflow workbench and the DryadLINQ interface for Microsoft .NET to combine thousands of images and systematically remove differences in exposure, brightness, noise floor and color saturation.

Using the Project Trident technology, Microsoft Research automated the data analysis and visualization process and was able to manage the workflow for TeraPixel in an efficient way. With Project Trident and DryadLINQ, Microsoft Research reduced the time it took to run one iteration of the TeraPixel image from weeks to hours, making the creation of an image of this size and quality possible for the first time. In addition to their use in creating the TeraPixel image, Project Trident and DryadLINQ can be used to empower scientists in other data-intensive fields, such as oceanography, environmental science, and medical research.