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NASA and Google are to build a million-square-foot research centre at NASA's Research Park at Moffett Field, Silicon Valley.

Initially, the two parties will collaborate on a number of projects including large-scale data management and "massively distributed computing". The work would also likely build on Google's Google Earth, possibly extending coverage of the moon to include other planets.

NASA's Ames Center director, G. Scott Hubbard, said the planned partnership would cover a wide range of subjects that would benefit the space programme. He said collaborations on bio-info-nano convergence would lead to new sensors and materials.

He also predicted improved analysis of engineering problems as well as "Earth, life and space science discoveries from supercomputing and data mining, and bringing entrepreneurs into the space programme".

Google, meanwhile, waxed lyrical on what the collaboration would bring to the public: "Imagine having a wide selection of images from the Apollo space mission at your fingertips whenever you want it," said CEO Eric Schmidt.

Financial details of the deal have not been disclosed. ®

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