A tripod-attachable device that enables a digital camera to capture hundreds of images and create ?multi-billion-pixel? panoramas is now available to consumers.

First used by NASA, the GigaPan technology was the brainchild of the scientist behind imaging technology used on board the rover vehicles that explored Mars.

It is designed to be compatible with a ?standard consumer digital camera? and create ?incredibly high-resolution panoramic images?, say its developers.

?It accomplishes this by precisely manipulating the camera?s pan-and-tilt gaze with precision motors while taking many, possibly hundreds of pictures,? said a spokesman for Charmed Labs, which is making the product available to the general public.

Free software is used to stitch the pictures together to create a ?seamless panoramic image?.

The ?beta? version costs $279 and works with ?most off-the-shelf digital cameras?, added the spokesman.

Developers claim that, when an image is viewed on a computer screen, small details can be seen in fine detail when zooming-in on an object or person miles away in the background of the panoramic picture.

It is hoped that the public will be able to explore and share their panoramic images on the internet.

Among the first to use the technology is UNESCO, the United Nations agency.

It plans to use the GigaPan system to enable children from different parts of the world to learn about different cultures and neighbourhoods.

The GigaPan project is part of the Global Connection Project, which is backed by the National Geographic Society and Google.

NASA helped adapt the robotic camera mount, in conjunction with scientists at the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute in the United States.

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? Earlier this year NASA ordered 76 Nikon D2Xs digital SLR cameras for use in future space shuttle missions