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Microsoft Research unveils next generation of WorldWide Telescope at 11th Annual Faculty Summit

Microsoft Research unveils next generation of WorldWide Telescope at 11th Annual Faculty Summit

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Great discoveries are often the result of collaboration, and for three days this week, during the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit 2010, more than 350 attendees representing various universities, industries, and governmental agencies are gathering to combine forces. Participants will be looking to foster collaboration that advances research, inspires technological innovation, enhances the educational experience and cultivates the next generation of thought leaders.

Held at Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, Wash. and hosted by Microsoft External Research, a division of Microsoft Research, the summit will feature the introduction of new technologies focused on space exploration as well as the announcement of the winners of the 2010 Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship grants, which provide $1.4 million in funding each year to support professors who are exploring high-impact research that has the potential to help solve some of today's most challenging problems.

The theme of this year's summit, Embracing Complexity, aptly describes the work underlying the new Terapixel technology in the Microsoft Research WorldWide Telescope. Terapixel is the largest, seamless, spherical map of the sky ever created. It will provide scientists with the ability to navigate through space dynamically to make their own discoveries. 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--Terapixel offers a complete, panoramic rendering of the night sky that, if displayed at full size, would require 50,000 high-definition televisions to view. Terapixel draws on the power of the Trident workflow workbench and the DryadLINQ interface for .NET to combine thousands of images and systematically remove differences in exposure, brightness, and color saturation.

 

The clearly tiled view of a portion of the night sky (left) is rendered seamless by the Terapixel smoothing process (right). (Photo courtesy of the DSS Consortium)

Another of the summit's intriguing presentations showcases how Microsoft Research and NASA will enable people to use the WorldWide Telescope to explore Mars virtually via a 3-D rendering of the surface of the planet and take interactive tours with noted NASA scientists James Garvin and Carol Stoker. This capability is the result of the Space Act Agreement signed by Microsoft and NASA in 2009 to inspire the next generation of astronomers to continue to pursue scientific discovery.

 

A stunning new image of Mars now available in the WorldWide Telescope. (Photo courtesy of Microsoft|NASA)

All of us at Microsoft Research are pleased to have the opportunity to welcome some of the world's most renowned thought leaders, working together to envision the advances of tomorrow.

Please visit our Faculty Summit homepage the next few days, where we will bring you more information about WorldWide Telescope, the 2010 Faculty Fellows, and ongoing event news and coverage.

Tony Hey, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft External Research, a division of Microsoft Research

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