Cool stuff for us space nuts. It’s a database project with a difference. Microsoft Research has joined with NASA to create a new 3D way to experience Mars. Press announcement at Microsoft Research Illuminates Night Sky and Mars in 3-D With WorldWide Telescope Also they have created a new 3D spherical image of the sky. This sounds very exiting and it show the way that computer science technology is changing the way we do all sorts of other sciences – in this case astronomy. More information below.

Yesterday, at the 2010 Faculty Summit, Microsoft Research and NASA are providing an entirely new experience to users of the WorldWide Telescope, which will allow visitors to interact with and explore our solar system like never before. With the new Mars experience in the Worldwide Telescope, viewers can now take exclusive interactive tours of Mars, hear directly from NASA Scientists, and view and explore the most complete highest resolution coverage of Mars available, which will allow users to experience the red planet in 3-D. To experience Mars up-close, viewers can download the new WWT Mars experience at http://www.worldwidetelescope.org.

Also 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. 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 period of 50 years by two ground based survey telescopes. The new high-quality image will provide scientists with the ability to navigate through space dynamically to make their own discoveries.