Nasa, Google aim for virtual space travel

Web surfers may soon be able to explore the canyons of Mars and experience a virtual flight over the surface of the moon thanks to a deal announced on Monday between web search company Google and the Nasa Ames Research Centre.

The Space Act Agreement is the first in a series of collaborations between the Mountain View, California-based internet company and the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa).

Nasa and Google said they will work together on a wide range of technical problems and will make Nasa’s space exploration work, much of which is currently scattered across the web, more accessible to the public.

One project would let viewers see details of Mars and Earth’s moon in a format similar to satellite picture views of the world made popular by applications such as Google Earth.

Eventually, they aim to offer real-time weather visualisation and forecasting, high-resolution 3D maps of the moon and Mars and real-time tracking of the International Space Station and the space shuttle from the screen of any computer with internet access, they said in a statement.

Google and Nasa first partnered last year to build a new campus at Nasa’s research centre in Silicon Valley. The deal called for Google to develop up to 93 000 square metres of real estate within the Moffett Field research park.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. - Reuters


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