NASA, Google dock for data, image online sharing

NASA will make space exploration data and images easily available on the Internet through an agreement with Google Inc. Individuals in the future will be able to access high-resolution 3-D maps of the moon and Mars, real-time tracking of the International Space Station and the space shuttle, and current weather visualization and forecasting.

NASA's Ames Research Center and Google signed an agreement to work together to solve challenging technical problems, such as large-scale data management, massively distributed computing and human-computer interfaces. Google's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters is close to Ames' Moffett Field in Silicon Valley. Google said it is building a one-million-square-foot facility within the NASA Research Park at Moffett Field.

"This agreement between NASA and Google will soon allow every American to experience a virtual flight over the surface of the moon or through the canyons of Mars," said NASA administrator Michael Griffin yesterday in a statement announcing the agreement.

NASA and Google plan to collaborate on incorporating agency data sets in Google Earth, focusing on user studies and cognitive modeling for human computer interaction and science data search utilizing a variety of Google features and products.

"Partnering with NASA made perfect sense for Google, as it has a wealth of technical expertise and data that will be of great use to Google as we look to tackle many computing issues on behalf of our users," said Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

Although much of the NASA information is already in the public domain, it is scattered and difficult for non-experts to access and to understand, said Chris Kemp, director of strategic business development at Ames.

'We are bringing together some of the best research scientists and engineers to form teams to make more of NASA's vast information accessible,' he said.

NASA and Google also will collaborate on research, products, facilities, education and missions.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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