Google map out new course for Nasa

Google are joining up with Nasa to give everyone the chance to take virtual spaceflights around the Moon and Mars. They will work with the space agency to produce high-resolution 3D maps of the distant worlds in the same amazing detail as Google Earth.

Google's lunar maps lack detailIt forms part of a Space Act Agreement that the internet search giant signed today with Nasa’s Ames Research Centre in California.

Google currently has only very crude mappings of the Moon, as indicated by the accompanying cheesy “close-up”, and Mars based on their cult Earth version of the program.

The collaboration will also seek to make useful Nasa data available on the internet. Examples will include live weather maps and forecasts, plus real-time tracking of the International Space Station and shuttle.

Nasa chief Michael Griffin said today: “This agreement will soon allow Americans to experience a virtual flight over the surface of the Moon or through the canyons of Mars. This innovative combination of information technology and space science will make Nasa’s space exploration work accessible to everyone.”

Google will also help Nasa to manage the vast amounts of information held across the agency’s network of computers.

I am waiting for Google to act on a suggestion I emailed to them a while back – to produce a map of the sky that we could explore in a similar way to Google Earth. There is already plenty of data from observatories’ sky surveys that could map the sky as a celestial sphere. Would anyone else like to see Google Universe?

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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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