As part of its charter, NASA is tasked with providing public education on its work and programs. To that end, NASA teamed up with Microsoft to bring the public an up close and personal view of the International Space Station and a full scale model of the upcoming Mars Science Lab.

Using the new Silverlight powered Photosynth, anyone can take a 3D tour of each of the modules of the International Space Station as photographed by NASA Astronaut Sarah Magnus during the 129 days she lived onboard, as well as stunning external views of the station she took while on board Space Shuttle Endeavour during STS-118. Afterward, blast off toward Mars and view a stunning 360 degree synth of the Mars Science Lab that is scheduled for launch in 2011. Expert ‘synther’ Laurence Moroney from Microsoft worked with the friendly folks at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to create a 100% ‘synthy’ view of a full scale model of the new rover being tested in a facility known as the ‘Mars Yard’. The synth is comprised of over 300 individual photographs!

With the power and speed of Silverlight combined with the photographic wizardry of Photosynth, now anyone with a Silverlight capable browser can learn about the great work NASA is doing in orbit as well as on the Red Planet. There will even be a scavenger hunt inside the synths (details on NASA’s facebook page).

Check out the NASA synths at www.nasa.gov/photosynth, or learn more about Photosynth at www.photosynth.net.