Now Google goes to Mars

Google Earth fans can set their sights on a whole new world today by zooming in on Mars.
The search giant has just launched Google Mars so computer users can take a close look at the Red Planet.
And while they won’t be able to find pizza deliveries or motels, they can study the biggest volcano in the solar system or a rift that dwarfs the Grand Canyon.
Google Mars is a joint project between the search company and Nasa researchers at Arizona State University’s Mars Space Flight Facility.
They have compiled a mosaic of the planet from more than 17,000 snapshots taken by cameras aboard an orbiting spaceprobe Mars Odyssey.
The craft has been circling Mars since October 2001 and studying the surface in detail with its thermal imaging system, called Themis.
Planetary geologists Phil Christensen said: “Mars scientists the world over use Themis photos. It’s great that thanks to Google Mars, now everyone, everywhere can explore this neighbour world using their own computer browser.”
The site was launched on the 151st birthday of astronomer Percival Lowell who sketched canals on the planet and believed they were signs of Martian life.
And it came less than three days after Nasa’s latest £282million spaceprobe Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter successfully completed its 310million mile journey there.
As well as its cult mapping of the Earth, Google has produced a map of the Moon. You can close in on the Apollo landing sites but if you zoom too much you find the moon is made of cheese.
Also yesterday, Arizona State University and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory released a movie, Flight Into Mariner Valley, which simulates a trip through Valles Marineris, the biggest canyon in the solar system.

© Paul Sutherland. Unauthorised reproduction forbidden.

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

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Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

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