Bringing space exploration down to Earth

NASAAmesResearchCenter and Google have signed a Space Act Agreement that formally establishes a relationship to work together on a variety of technical problems. These could range from large-scale data management and massively distributed computing to human-computer interfaces.

As the first in a series of joint collaborations, Google and Ames will focus on making the most useful of NASA’s information available on the Internet. Real-time weather visualisation and forecasting, high-resolution 3D maps of the moon and Mars, real-time tracking of the International Space Station and the space shuttle will be explored in the future.

Recently, teams from NASA and Google met to discuss the many computer science problems facing both organisations and possible joint collaborations that could help address them.

NASA and Google intend to collaborate in a variety of areas, including

incorporating agency data sets in Google Earth, focusing on user studies and cognitive modelling for human computer interaction, and science data search utilising a variety of Google features and products.

‘NASA has collected and processed more information about our planet and universe than any other entity in the history of humanity,’ said Chris C. Kemp, director of strategic business development at Ames. ‘Even though this information was collected for the benefit of everyone, and much is in the public domain, the vast majority of this information is scattered and difficult for non-experts to access and to understand.

‘We’ve worked hard over the past year to implement an agreement that enables NASA and Google to work closely together on a wide range of

innovative collaborations,’ said Kemp. ‘We are bringing together some of the best research scientists and engineers to form teams to make more of NASA’s vast information accessible.’

NASA and Google also are finalising details for additional collaborations that include joint research, products, facilities, education and missions.