At Monday's 11th annual Microsoft Research Faculty Summit, Microsoft Corp. announced the latest version of its WorldWide Telescope (Web-based software that blends terabytes of images and other data from multiple sources, enabling personal computers to function as virtual telescopes). The software giant also revealed high-resolution, 3-D imagery of Mars stitched together with the help of more than 13,000 pictures captured by a number of NASA's Mars spacecraft, including the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

The surface map has been color corrected to match the latest estimates of the Red Planet's appearance. The WorldWide Telescope features a new data set from the University of Arizona Department of Planetary Sciences' High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), a remote-sensing camera onboard the MRO that collects very high–res pics, which are a quarter of a meter per pixel on average. Each HiRISE image is a gigapixel in size, containing about 100 times more information than a 10-megapixel off-the-shelf camera.