Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, in collaboration with scientists at NASA's Ames Research Center, have built a low-cost robotic device that enables any digital camera to produce gigapixel (billions of pixels) panoramas called GigaPans. The device attaches to any digital camera and enables the public to shoot interactive panoramas that can be explored in great depth on the Internet.

The Gigapan technology enables a digital camera to take dozens or hundreds of photos of a scene that can be electronically stitched together to create a panoramic computer image that users can examine in great detail on a public, dedicated Website. Randy Sargent, project scientist at Carnegie Mellon West, got the idea for GigaPan when he was a technical staff member at NASA's Ames Research Center, helping to develop software for combining images from NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers into panoramas. He became convinced that the same, technology could open people's eyes to the diversity of their own planet.

Sargent sees the GigaPan system as an important tool for ecologists, biologists, and other scientists. In cooperation with Google, the researchers also have created a GigaPan layer on Google Earth. Anyone using Google Earth can now fly into these GigaPan panoramas in the context of exploring the world.

To promote further sharing of the imagery, Carnegie Mellon has launched a Website where you can upload and interactively explore panoramic images of any format. Visit the site here .