Monday, March 16, 2009

Google Earth Gets More Martian

Last month's Google Earth 5 release added not just the highly publicized oceanographic features (Google Ocean) but 3D Mars as well:
a 3D map of the Red Planet featuring the latest high-resolution imagery, 3D terrain, and annotations showing landing sites and lots of other interesting features.
However, Google Ocean overshadowed the Mars-ian feature set.

On Friday, Google announced that because of popular Earthling demand, they have added some new features to Google Mars:
Live from Mars: NASA's typical release process for Mars satellite imagery requires months, and involves numerous stages of calibration. But thanks to the THEMIS camera team at Arizona State University, you could turn on the new 'Live from Mars' layer and become one of the very first people to lay eyes on images taken just days or even hours ago! This feature represents the first public continuous stream of fresh high-resolution satellite imagery in the solar system, and can display new images from the THEMIS camera just hours after NASA receives them. You can also see live satellite orbital tracks, or check out where the HiRISE camera plans to image next.

Historical Maps: In the late 1800s, Giovanni Schiaparelli created many of the earliest detailed maps of Mars. He famously saw, recorded, and named numerous linear features on the surface, some of which he termed cannali (Italian for channel). His contemporary, Percival Lowell, re-imagined and misunderstood these features to be artificial canals, sparking a media frenzy back on Earth and captivating the public with the idea of abundant water and an alien civilization on Mars. The Historical Globes layer lets you see these and other antique maps of Mars as virtual spinning globes.

Guided Tours: If you're not sure where to go on Mars, let Bill Nye the Science Guy and Ira Flatow of Public Radio's Science Friday show you around. Simply go to the Mars Gallery layer, and double-click either of their tours for a narrated trip around the Martian surface. This is a great way to introduce yourself to some of the most interesting spots on the planet - just sit back, and enjoy the ride. If something catches your eye, you can pause these tours at any time and explore on your own, then hit play to resume your journey. These tours were created with the new Touring feature in Google Earth 5.0.
It's expected that as Martians sneak a peek at the new features, still more may be added.

To go Martian in Google Earth, click the Planets Button in the main toolbar and select 'Mars' (above).

Want to know more about touring the Red Planet? Here's a tutorial on Google Mars:

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