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Microsoft Graphics Space Science

Recomputing the Sky 205

Posted by kdawson
from the magic-glasses dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft has unveiled the largest and clearest image of the night sky ever assembled. This so-called 'TeraPixel' sky map was generated with the help of some of Microsoft's latest HPC and parallel software assets. Quoting: 'Compared to the old sky image, the TeraPixel version is much more refined. With all the artifacts, seams and inconsistencies processed away, it looks like a true unified image of the sky above. It's like going from Super Mario Brothers on 1985-era Nintendo consoles to Halo 2 on Xbox 360s.'" You can view the image at Microsoft's WorldWide Telescope site — it requires the Silverlight plugin for Windows or Mac. No word at the site about Linux or whether Moonlight works there.
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Recomputing the Sky

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Friday July 16, 2010 @09:35AM (#32925326) Journal

    It's like going from Super Mario Brothers on 1985-era Nintendo consoles to Halo 2 on Xbox 360s

    Oh, I see what you did there. Here, let me try:

    It's like going from gaming on Windows 1.0 in 1985 to 1985-era Nintendo consoles

    Or what about

    It's like going from a red ring of death on an XBox console to Gran Turismo 3 on a Playstation 2

    Oh and I also enjoy that you used your Space Act Agreement with NASA to "make planetary images and data available via the Internet to the public" and also promote the download and installation of silvercrap. Can't do something for the public without advertising and pushing proprietary software on people, can we? I hope Google gets the chance to do this with HTML5.

  • by capnchicken (664317) on Friday July 16, 2010 @09:37AM (#32925344)

    So this looks like a really cool thing that MS did, so I'm going to wait in wide eyed anticipation at how the slashdot community is going to trash it because it's from Microsoft and not Google (or at least be more overly critical of it). I do hope I'm wrong though.

    • by pmontra (738736) on Friday July 16, 2010 @09:41AM (#32925390) Homepage

      They should have done it with JavaScript and JPEGs instead of using Silverlight, which doesn't work on my Linux.

      Good enough as first bashing? .-)

      • by capnchicken (664317) on Friday July 16, 2010 @09:45AM (#32925440)

        Yeah, that'll work, though I'm sure Miguel is probably working on fixing that right now. ;)

        • by Java Pimp (98454)

          Sorry for the flamebait mod. I actually thought this was quite funny. My computer sucks. Posting to undo the mod...

      • You at least give a viable reason for disliking Silverlight. Most of the commenters just seem to hate it because it's Silverlight. Why they don't make a Linux version of it is beyond me, they really ought to.

        Now to play devil's advocate: I don't see why Silverlight garners so much more hate than Flash around here. Both are pushed using the same tactics and neither is really open. Flash has just been around longer.

        • by ArsonSmith (13997)

          I have to say, I dislike them both equally. Flash because it has been around too long. Silverlight because it is really just flash again when the entire idea should have been replaced.

      • by GooberToo (74388)

        Statement of fact is not necessarily bashing. There is a difference between legitimate criticism and bashing. So no, that's not nearly good enough.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It is a cool thing, yes. It is, however, NOT cool that it requires Silverlight to view. There's no reason it should require that.

      • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Friday July 16, 2010 @10:04AM (#32925622)

        Playing devil's advocate -- it's pretty trivial to make a Silverlight interface to pan and zoom around a giant image like this. It's less trivial to do the same thing with, say, JavaScript or Flash.

        This is one of the handful of things that Silverlight does really well.

        Because of that, I wouldn't be surprised if this project was less a "We've got this cool thing, what Microsoft technology can we push with it?" and more "What's a thing we could do that would really show off a strength of Silverlight?"

        • Playing devil's advocate -- it's pretty trivial to make a Silverlight interface to pan and zoom around a giant image like this. It's less trivial to do the same thing with, say, JavaScript or Flash.

          Only until someone writes a Javascript library that does it. Then it becomes trivially easy to do it in Javascript.

          • Its been several years since Google Maps made an appearance with that functionality, and still I have yet to see a decent third party library that can do it for my own projects.
        • Google Maps (Score:3, Interesting)

          by tepples (727027)

          it's pretty trivial to make a Silverlight interface to pan and zoom around a giant image like this.

          Yet Google managed to pull off Google Maps in JavaScript.

          • With the resources of Google. Pretend your the engineer tasked with making this. "Hey, boss, we can spend 3x the time writing in in Javascript so its compatible with all browsers or use our inhouse Silverlight tech to get it done faster. What should we do?"

            Of course, they didn't have this conversation. It went: "build this in silverlight and let me know when its done."

            • Except, now that the idea of doing it in Javascipt is out, anyone can figure it out. The math's simple. The database is easy to set up. Any undergrad CS major should be able to cobblestone it together as a project within a week or two.

              Now setting it up to make sure it can handle a /. DDOS may be another matter...

        • Playing devil's advocate -- it's pretty trivial to make a Silverlight interface to pan and zoom around a giant image like this. It's less trivial to do the same thing with, say, JavaScript or Flash.

          (looks down at arrow, ctrl, +, and - keys)
          Uhh... you need extra software to do what now?

          • To deliver 800 GB worth of stitched-together composite images to users in a fashion that doesn’t result in them dying of old age before they can identify and zoom in on a portion worth seeing up-close?

        • by owlstead (636356)

          Meaning that they have already got a library for this build in? Or is it something that you can only do because Silverlight has [please insert silverlight exclusive technology here]?

          • Meaning that they have already got a library for this build in?

            Essentially, yeah -- this kind of zooming is a built-in function of Silverlight. They call it Deep Zoom and here's [microsoft.com] a bit of an article about it with some code/markup examples linked if you're curious.

            Here's [hardrock.com] another interesting example of the concept in action -- obviously you'd need Silverlight or Moonlight to view it.

            None of this is anything you couldn't do with another technology -- it's just that Silverlight makes it fast/easy to throw toget

        • by prefect42 (141309)

          Playing devil's advocate -- it's pretty trivial to make a Silverlight interface to pan and zoom around a giant image like this. It's less trivial to do the same thing with, say, JavaScript or Flash.

          I'm just not sure it's true. ImageScope provides a workable flash interface to allow you to view 10,000 MPixel images just fine. It's not all that hard whatever you're writing it in. Pyramid tiled images make writing a front end pretty easy to be honest. I think the good work they've done is the image processing at the back end to get this data into nice shape in the first place.

        • by xlotlu (1395639) on Friday July 16, 2010 @11:47AM (#32926988)

          Playing devil's advocate -- it's pretty trivial to make a Silverlight interface to pan and zoom around a giant image like this. It's less trivial to do the same thing with, say, JavaScript or Flash.

          Actually you're trolling more than playing devil's advocate. There's a sh*tload of zoom & pan-enabled image viewing libraries, both in JS and Flash, all using tiles just like Silverlight -- try to google some.

          And for that matter it's trivial to DIY from scratch using canvas, which of course IE conveniently doesn't support, but that problem was solved too long ago. OpenLayers [openlayers.org], which you might have seen at work at OpenStreetMap [openstreetmap.org], includes a VML rendering backend, besides canvas and SVG.

          The really funny part about your "advocating" is that MS has an Ajax library that does exactly the same thing as its Silverlight counterpart: http://www.seadragon.com/developer/ajax/ [seadragon.com]

      • by Locutus (9039) on Friday July 16, 2010 @11:50AM (#32927032)
        Except that Silverlight is probably _why_ they did it in the first place. Flash and standardized HTML5 are threats to Windows and without Windows Microsoft is history so Silverlight is the hammer, the night sky is but one nail. Is there an iPhone or Android app for that? I didn't think so but you can bet that when they ship the next new Microsoft phone software, they'll release one for it.

        20 years of watching these people operate points me to these kinds of conclusions.

        LoB
    • by pinkushun (1467193) on Friday July 16, 2010 @09:59AM (#32925578) Journal

      I hope you're wrong too :-)

      Oh wait... the source material from the SDSS (Sloan Digital Sky Survey) runs the hardware with the help of... drum roll... Linux (ref page 24 [sdss.org])

      BAM!

    • by mdwh2 (535323)

      I see already the bashing because they don't support competitor platforms. I guess that's fair enough, but - can I get Google's Sky Maps on my non-Android phone (Symbian)? Or where are the calls to run on Linux phones there, such as Maemo? Everytime we get a "For the Iphone" app, do we get versions for other platforms (even when they're not written by Apple)?

      And at least MS can say they're writing something that's supported by 90+% of the market, which obviously doesn't apply for Iphones or Android, and the

      • by tibman (623933)

        You shouldn't harp on Android or iPhone when silverlight cannot be run on any existing Windows Mobile phones. As far as i can tell, only one phone (S60) can run silverlight and it's made by Nokia.

        List of phones/browsers/os support: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silverlight#Operating_systems_and_web_browsers [wikipedia.org]

        Most applications cannot run cross-OS, but the web is supposed to be os neutral. In many cases a program can be made to work with multiple OSs but there's no way a program can run on everything. The web

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      So this looks like a really cool thing that MS did, so I'm going to wait in wide eyed anticipation at how the slashdot community is going to trash it because it's from Microsoft and not Google (or at least be more overly critical of it). I do hope I'm wrong though.

      Hope, huh? Niiice, juuuiiiicy!
      Speaking of my hopes, I had hoped for years to see a better OS from MS, and more fair play towards FOSS (and I must admit that MS mimicked them quite swell lately). The coolness of the sky (seen in silverlight) doesn't bring me any benefits, thus the efficiency of this coolness... well... is sooo cool is that's close to 0K. (how's that for a trashing :) ).

      To be fair: I'm equally happy I'm living in a "year of Linux on desktop" for quite a some years - looks like a "perpetual

    • I'm very happy that they've helped make something like a better image of the sky available. What I don't like is Microsoft's habit of taking something like that and packaging it up in bullshit proprietary formats that you can only access if you abuse their shit software. Yeah, I think I got that right. I don't like Microsoft's software, I don't like their business tactics, and I don't like their insistence that everyone use their software. I'll use their software when I think it's right for the job. Right n

  • by Svenne (117693) on Friday July 16, 2010 @09:37AM (#32925346) Homepage

    Nope. Doesn't work.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Well, I haven't got Linux installed on my netbook yet, but even so I still won't be able to use it; I'm not installing Silverlight, Moonlight, or anything except maybe Bud Light.

      • by vegiVamp (518171) on Friday July 16, 2010 @10:52AM (#32926202) Homepage
        You keep well away of all the other inferior products, and then you go for american 'beer' ?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cream wobbly (1102689)

          That I took to be the point of his argument: Bud Light, the very worst example of American beer, the very worst in the world ever, is far better than {Silver,Moon}light.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by AltairDusk (1757788)

            Bud Light, the very worst example of American beer, the very worst in the world ever

            Clearly you've never had the displeasure of drinking Natty Ice (Natural Light Ice) or Beast Ice (Milwaukee's Best Ice). Actually Beast in general is just awful but both of those will make Bud Light seem like beer of the gods.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          You need to put quotes around "american" as well as "beer"; AB is now owned by Europeans (and see another poster's comment). [slashdot.org]

          Actually, my favorite beer is Killian's, my favorite American beer is Sam Adams. Sadly, in most bars here you're stuck with AB and Miller products, and in the rest of them you pay twice as much for imports as you do for "domestics", and more for "american" beers as you do in the dives I drink at, which have a more interesting clientelle [slashdot.org] anyway.

  • Seems... (Score:5, Informative)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday July 16, 2010 @09:38AM (#32925358) Homepage Journal

    With all the artifacts, seams and inconsistencies processed away

    It seems the seams are gone. Excellent! I'll have to see how this compares to Google Sky. I'll bet I'll still prefer NASA's closeups from their Picture of the Day Gallery, [nasa.gov] though.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's like going from Super Mario Brothers on 1985-era Nintendo consoles to Halo 2 on Xbox 360s
     
    Classy, they just had to get that one in there. Of course Halo 2 isn't seamless on the 360, you can't use its online features and it doesn't work in wide screen format.

  • by benwiggy (1262536) on Friday July 16, 2010 @09:46AM (#32925454)

    You can view the image at Microsoft's WorldWide Telescope site — it requires the Silverlight plugin for Windows or Mac.

    These two statements appear to contradict each other.

    If it requires Silverlight, then I can't view it, because I don't want that cock on my computer.

  • every other day, news from microsoft. none of them relate to o/ses. so what ? ms has dropped its core business ?
    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Exactly, its so boring, been done, throwing cpu time at a project just feels very dull propaganda.
      "look we have big boxes now and they are powerful ..."
      Thinking back to the Simpsons AABF02
      No, no. To attract the top grads, we'll need to host a computing stunt. A picture that showcases our cutting- edge technology.
      A "sky map", sir?
      [gasps] Yes, brilliant! That's just the kind of far-out gimmick we need.
    • by TheLink (130905)
      They want you to install Silverlight to view it.
    • every other day, news from microsoft. none of them relate to o/ses. so what ? ms has dropped its core business ?

      After the over saturation of articles back when Windows 7 came out, I am glad to have the opportunity to read about anything else.

    • It's core business these past 5 years has been it's Office products. But the OS is still next in line.
  • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Friday July 16, 2010 @09:47AM (#32925462) Homepage

    It's like going from Super Mario Brothers on 1985-era Nintendo consoles to Halo 2 on Xbox 360s

    You mean the sky it gets a whole lot easier, starts holding your hard and tells you which stars to look at?

    Or can we now look at the old night sky on our mobile phones using emulators, now that the new night sky is filled with nerd-raging teenaged frat boys?

  • by idontgno (624372) on Friday July 16, 2010 @10:01AM (#32925596) Journal

    According to TFA, one of the major bottlenecks was just copying files:

    Just transferring the final 1,025 files (802 GB total) off the cluster took 2.5 hours using a 1 Gbps link.

    They must have been using Vista Explorer pre SP-1 to do the file copy.

  • BSOD (Score:4, Funny)

    by JustOK (667959) on Friday July 16, 2010 @10:01AM (#32925598) Journal

    Blue Sky of Death

  • Halo 2 on Xbox 360? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Plastic Pencil (1258364) on Friday July 16, 2010 @10:13AM (#32925720)
    Sorry to be the dick-ish correctionist, but isn't the proper analogy, at least Halo 3 on 360? Halo 2 was an Xbox 1 game from 2004.

    And yes, Grizzly Adams did have a beard.
  • Well, the image is really cool, I'll give it that.

    The "Quotes" from TFS are all from the author of TFA. If you want to see what the real description of the work, best look here http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/projects/terapixel/default.aspx [microsoft.com]

    There's still some artifacts left though, have a look near (seriously overexposed) Sirius for a ghost of the telescope pupil (the thing that looks like an alien solar sail) (Constellations -> Canis Major)

  • Would a kind soul with silverlight installed view it, make screen captures in jpg and upload it for everyone to see?
  • Please select your response from the following /.-approved categories (check all that apply):

    This project sucks because...
        [ ] Microsoft is evil
        [ ] They totally stole this idea from
        [ ] They've never done ANYTHING original or noteworthy
        [ ] EVERYTHING they do is about hurting consumers
        [ ] did this 100 times better 10 years ago
        [ ] Microsoft killed my family and made me watch

  • Can we cover the outside of commercial airliners with cheap cameras, use computers to stitch the panoramas together, and then give passengers a zoomable, pannable picture of the sky and ground to look at?

  • only thing that comes to mind is discourse with clippy as he asks, "Its looks like you're rendering a terapixel image of the earths night sky. Would you like to use a template?"
  • Oh crud. I hate Microsoft, but this is kinda cool.

    Wonder if it'll work under Wine?

  • Anything that saves me from walking outside and looking up at the sky and being around nature is progress!

  • For real - that's pretty cool. No digs, no anti-MS stuff. I think it's great.

    In their hearts I think most anti-MS people on slashdot already acknowledge the fact that they've been out-eviled recently. The day of MS as the root of all IT nastiness has come and gone. They just need to say it out loud.

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