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Space Science

Spitzer's 5-Gigapixel Milky Way 124

James Harold writes "Today NASA unveiled a new infrared mosaic of our galaxy. The result of over 800,000 individual images collected by the Spitzer Space Telescope, it is the largest, highest-resolution, and most sensitive infrared picture ever taken of the Milky Way (and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future). Because Spitzer sees in infrared, it penetrates much farther into the galaxy, revealing previously hidden star clusters, star-forming regions, shocked gases, glowing 'bubbles' and more. The complete mosaic is about 400,000 by 13,000 pixels, and a 180' printed version is being shown at the American Astronomical Society meeting in St. Louis. A zoomable, annotated version of two different variants on the image (as well as some additional information on the science) is available at Alien Earths, a NASA- and NSF-supported education site." The Spitzer survey is already causing a stir potentially bigger than that raised when Pluto was deemed not a planet: two minor spiral arms of the Milky Way may be demoted.
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Spitzer's 5-Gigapixel Milky Way

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  • Accessibility (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @11:43PM (#23647329)
    If this information is owned by the government, it should be free to the citizens, and hence free to google sky, or the other alternatives. Why doesn't this immediately go that direction?

    I understand Google Earth/etc. being bound by paying terrestrial satellite owners for photos, but I would think NASA could get better public support if they were more available in the sky.
  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @12:40AM (#23647645) Journal

    You know you're going to have trouble viewing when downloading a JPEG actually takes a noticeable ammount of time over broadband. IE, MSPaint, Firefox, and a trusty little shareware image editor I use--they all choked on the first hi-res image. The surprise winner? The Windows Picture and Fax viewer that comes with XP. I was even able to zoom in several times, but it too eventually choked.

    The failure of Firefox is a bit of a disappointment here. The Picture and Fax win is surprising since other MS apps identified the image as being in an "unsupported format". The shareware app thought it was "damaged". This is probably just an effort on the part of those apps to protect themselves from what's usualy a nonsensical dimension.

    Well, that's the Windows XP side of this. How are people viewing these images on other OSs? Are you able to view it with anything that "just comes with the OS", or are you having to go out of your way?

  • Re:really? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Slorv ( 841945 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @01:59AM (#23648021) Homepage
    It really isn't that extra.
    We have no problem printing 20k pixels wide images. Our now rather old HP printer only print 106 cm but prints can be as long as the paper rolls allow.
    At 200 px/inch the print will be 2,5 meters - really nothing fancy.
    I do a couple of prints like that every month.

    However, the cost of black ink for a picture of the night sky, that will hurt a bit.
  • by vrmlguy ( 120854 ) <> on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @08:45AM (#23650273) Homepage Journal
    Here is a concatenation of all the screen resolution images into a single 14400x492 image: []

    BTW, I created them from the caltech screen-res images using this Python script:

    from PIL import Image
    full ='RGB', (16*900, 492))
    for i in range(16):
            piece ='ssc2008-11b%d_medium.jpg' % (i+1))
            full.paste(piece, (i*900, 0))'ssc2008-11b_medium.jpg')

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"