NASA Ames Research Center and Google have signed a Space Act Agreement that formally establishes a relationship to work together on a variety of challenging technical problems ranging 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 visualization and forecasting, high-resolution 3- D maps of the moon and Mars, real-time tracking of the International Space Station and the space shuttle will be explored in the future.
Another "really cool project" coup for Google! I give them huge props for devoting a lot of energy to making science and high level data to everybody. Very true to the Google credo of making all the world's info accessible, and I predict they'll do a better job of this than the traditional Govt agency approach which is info rich / user deficient.
I think it's pretty good payback. Beowulf Clusters were initially developed at NASA Ames, and that architecture is the backbone of Google Data Centers.
If it wasn't for the Beowulf, Google as we know it would not have been possible. That lightning fast response time to queries is a direct result of the research done at Ames to turn COTS equipment into a distributed computing environment through some pretty clever Linux tricks.
I suspect a big part of the collaboration will be cross-pollination of ideas on distributed computing. Google took the concept in directions I don't think the researchers at Ames even dreamed of, and NASA still has some of the biggest brains in the field on their payroll, so it should be a win-win.
I like the initiative being an astronomy geek. But we have been able for quite some time to take "virtual" tours on the moon and Mars, with great detail. Anyway it will be interesting to see what Google does here.