Hot on the heels of a new report from the Baker Institute suggesting NASA concentrate on improving conditions here on Earth and postpone all this "outer space" foolishness, NASA has come up with yet another neat little thing to help reignite enthusiasm for what it does.
We say "yet another" in reference to photographer David Bergman's use of Mars Rover technology to take a truly breathtaking panoramic picture (nicknamed the "Gigapan") of President Obama's inauguration. The photo encompasses an enormous swath of the event, yet the megapixel count is so utterly massive that if you visit the interactive version of the photo and zoom into the audience straight across from you, you can almost see the brand name on the camera the guy in the puffy yellow jacket is using.
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Wow. Just wow.
Instead of turning the telescope inward, however, NASA's next idea is to turn it outward, and let us decide where to point it. The agency is providing a list of six planetary objects which have never been photographed by the Hubble telescope and is allowing the public at large to decide on which object the famous ultra-high-res space camera will make a study of next. Choices include a couple of planetary nebulas, the knife-edge of a galaxy, and a star-forming region. Right now a pair of interacting galaxies are in first place.
This is a pretty good idea from NASA. We hope next the agency decides who to put on the space shuttle. We'd vote for Drayton McLane, provided he didn't come back.
Voting ends March 1, and the winning photo will be released between April 2 and 5.