"The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean... Recently, we've managed to wade a little way out, and the water seems inviting." - Carl Sagan
Touring the Milky Way now is as easy as clicking a button with NASA’s new zoomable, 360-degree mosaic presented Thursday at the TED Active 2014 Conference in Vancouver, Canada.The star-studded panorama of our galaxy is constructed from more than 2 million infrared snapshots taken over the past 10 years by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.
"If we actually printed this out, we’d need a billboard as big as the Rose Bowl Stadium to display it," said Robert Hurt, an imaging specialist at NASA’s Spitzer Space Science Center in Pasadena, Calif. "Instead we’ve created a digital viewer that anyone, even astronomers, can use."
The 20-gigapixel mosaic uses Microsoft’s WorldWide Telescope visualization platform. It captures about three percent of our sky, but because it focuses on a band around Earth where the plane of the Milky Way lies, it shows more than half of all the galaxy’s stars.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Wisconsin