Bangalore, Sep 3 (Calcutta Tube) Global software major Microsoft has designed a computer programme that allows you to scan the universe and zoom into outer space through its Windows.
‘We have designed a virtual telescope that can be run on Windows or a web client with our Silverlight plug-in to tour the universe and zoom into outer space,’ Microsoft research programme manager Yan Xu said at a demo workshop here Thursday.
Touted as a worldwide telescope, the programme enables students and scholars to conduct astronomical research, promote science education and create entertainment.
‘As a virtual platform for the universe or outer space, it has huge data of images collected from Hubble and 10 other earth-bound telescopes,’ she said.
As a space telescope, Hubble is the largest and most versatile observatory in the earth’s orbit since 1990.
Built by the US-based National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) with contributions from the European Space Agency (ESA), Hubble takes extremely sharp images of the universe, solar and other planetary systems without the distortion of the earth’s atmosphere.
‘At a click away, one can go on an astrological tour dating back to 1500 BC, trace objects in outer space or track an eclipse and even watch the Chinese Valentine story,’ Yan pointed out.
The Valentine story is a love story of the seventh daughter of Emperor of Heaven and an orphaned cowherd, who are allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the Chinese calendar.
The extra-terrestrial tour through the telescope comes with commentary also in Hindi, the widely spoken language in India, and in other languages, including Chinese, German, Russian and Spanish of Latin American version.
[ReviewAZON asin=”B002DHLUWK” display=”inlinepost”]’You can also view the sky in many wavelengths of light through the telescope,’ Yan noted.
As a joint project with Johns Hopkins University, the Seattle-based Microsoft research lab loaded best images also from various satellites and wove them to produce a comprehensive view of the universe.
The objective is to offer aggregate scientific data from telescopes, observatories and institutions for temporal and multi-spectral studies through an internet-based portal www.worldwidetelescope.org.
The data from sky, planets, solar system and the earth are categorised to access information easily.
The latest web-based version enables exploration of the universe with a browser on a PC or Intel Mac OS X using Microsoft Silverlight 3.0.
‘The virtual telescope also showcases the largest seamless spherical map ever made of the night sky,’ Yan claimed.
In collaboration with NASA, the company released a high-resolution image of Mars for a three-dimensional experience of the red planet in the solar system.
‘Though virtual observatory is not new, the unique feature of this telescope is that even a common man can go on a tour of the universe on a computer,’ Yan added.
Microsoft is conducting the two-day workshop in partnership with the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the Pune-based Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) to provide a hands-on environment for students and general participants.
The second workshop will be held in Pune Saturday.