February 28, 2009

Mars in Google Earth

The name Google Earth is increasingly becoming a misnomer. Google Earth has included ways to visualize more than just the Earth, as I have previously talked about the Google Sky feature. But with the recent introduction of Google Earth 5, the software now includes the planet Mars as well.

With the addition of surface imagery and terrain of Mars, Google was able to effectively create a very accurate 3D representation of Mars. To turn on the new Mars feature in Google Earth, just look for the space icon (left), and select Mars from the drop down menu. Flying around Mars is just as easy as it was zooming around Earth before. And just as Google Earth includes placemarks all over the Earth to provide interesting information about special locations, the Mars view does the same (right). Through these, you can find out about imager and the magnificent places on the red planet.

Plus, Google Earth 5 gives you the ability to talk to a real Martian through a hidden easter egg in Google Earth! Well, not really. Although this feature is just a computer program simulating talking, it is a fun addition to this big and valuable update to Google Earth. Just type "Meliza" into the search box, and look for the "MELIZA placemark with an icon looking like a robot.

Google Earth 5 does not just include Mars. With this update, the program now gives the ability to dive through the Earth's oceans and look at old satellite photographs. But I feel that both of these can't match up with the addition of a new planet!

You can download Google Earth 5 here.

Astronomy and Space celebrates International Year of Astronomy 2009.

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