London: You no longer need to be an astronaut to explore Mars, as software giant Microsoft and NASA have joined hands to allow people to take a close look of the Red planet sitting at their homes.
What all one needs to enjoy this experience is a computer with Internet connection to download an interactive map of Mars.
Computer engineers at Microsoft spent three years crunching data from high resolution images produced by NASA space mission to make the map.
After downloading the software, visitors will be able to swoop in and explore a 3-D rendering of the mountains and valleys that cover the surface of Mars.
Viewers can also take exclusive interactive tours and hear directly with NASA scientists, while exploring the planet, the Daily Mail reported.
Dan Fay, director of Microsoft Research’s Earth, Energy and Environment Effort said, “We were able to take the imagery from NASA, combine it with their elevation models and lay those onto the surface of the globe of Mars.
“Now users of the WorldWide Telescope can zoom down and actually experience the surface-level detail of Mars.”
“They can pan back and see the height of the craters or the depth of the canyons. The new Mars experience allows people to feel as though they’re actually there.”
Viewers can even swoop in and explore Victoria Crater and Olympus Mons — a low valley and the highest peak in our solar system, said the official, who worked closely with Michael Broxton of the NASA Ames Research Centre’s Intelligent Robotics Group (IRG).
Broxton leads a team in the IRG informally called the Mapmakers, which applies computer vision and image processing to problems of cartography.
Over the years, the Mapmakers have taken satellite images from Mars, the moon and elsewhere, and turned them into useful maps.
Broxton said, “We wanted to make it easier for people everywhere, as well as scientists, to access these unique and valuable images.”