Nov 27, 2008

NASA Surveyor and Pathfinder in 3D

White Label Space recently took a field trip to the USA in order to initiate and pursue discussions with potential partners and sponsors. While in the DC area, the team found some time to visit one of the most famous aerospace museums in the world, the National Air & Space, and learn about previous lunar missions such as Clementine or Surveyor as well as Mars missions such as Pathfinder and Viking.

This proved a great opportunity to see the hardware first hard, which was far more informative than the analysis of pictures and text descriptions. A great deal of knowledge was captured by such previous missions, and even mission studies. By studying this space heritage we can avoid past design mistakes, reducing the cost and risk.
The National Air and Space Museum is without doubt a mine of information, and is a must-see if you happen to be in the DC area, especially for Google Lunar X PRIZE (GLXP) competitors, but also for the general public.
We took the chance to use some modern technology for capturing this space heritage. This new technology developed by Microsoft's Live Labs named PhotoSynth allows recreation of a hybrid 3D model that anyone can view and explore over the internet. We preferred using our cameras to build the 3D models we didn't think the security guards and curators would appreciate us crawling over the hardware with a 3D scanner!

Below are two great examples of what can be achieved. The mouse controls are similar to Google Maps, but PhotoSynth also includes a funky damped motion feature.

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Alex Csete said...

PhotoSynth allows recreation of a hybrid 3D model that anyone can view and explore over the internet.
I wish it was so... Despite being a web app, Photosynth refuses to run on anything else than windows. How typical...

The Red Fox said...

Well, as of yesterday Microsoft has opened things up at least a little bit. The Seadragon app is now available on the iPhone, and it lets you look at Photosynth streams as well. ( )
So it's definitely a start, and as it works on top of Silverlight, which is multi-platform maybe it'll start showing up everywhere!

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