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05.13.08

New Software Brings the Universe to Your Computer

Written by Whitney Clavin
Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The incredible images from NASA's "Great Observatories" and many other NASA space- and ground-based telescopes are now available to the public in an educational and innovative manner through the release of the free WorldWide Telescope software from Microsoft.

Views of the cosmos from such observatories as NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope, and Chandra X-ray Observatory can all be accessed through the same intuitive interface of exploring the night sky. Several all-sky surveys are also available through the WorldWide Telescope, including the Two Micron All-Sky Survey and the Infrared Astronomical Satellite survey. The rich multimedia software enables browsing through the visible, infrared, x-ray and other views of the universe, allowing for direct comparison of multi-wavelength observations that reveal surprising contrasts.

Other innovative features include guided tours created by scientists and educators. These tours guide users through various aspects of astronomy with narration, music, text and graphics. Members of the public, including children, will also be able to make their own tours to share with others.

The Two Micron All-Sky Survey is a collaborative effort between the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center in Pasadena, Calif., operated by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology, both in Pasadena.

The Infrared Astronomical Satellite is a joint project between NASA, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Its data are archived at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center.

JPL manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at Caltech, which manages JPL for NASA.

The WorldWide Telescope is available as of May 13, 2008, at www.worldwidetelescope.org.