Google Earth Now ‘Live From Mars’

by Nancy Atkinson on March 13, 2009

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Mars in Google Earth.  Credit: Google

Mars in Google Earth. Credit: Google


Google Earth announced a big update today of its Mars features, including a chance to see a continuous stream of new, high resolution satellite imagery just hours after NASA receives them. Called “Live from Mars,” this section features imagery from NASA’s THEMIS camera on board the Mars Odyssey spacecraft, and the HiRISE Camera from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. You can become one of the very first people to lay eyes on images taken just days or even hours ago. You can also see live satellite orbital tracks, or check out where these cameras plan to image next.

But wait! There’s more! Users can also travel back in time to see the Red Planet through the eyes of the pioneers of Mars science in the ‘Historical Maps’ layer by exploring antique maps by astronomers Giovanni Schiaparelli, Percival Lowell, and others. But also, if you don’t know exactly where to start with your Mars exploration, there are guided tours of Mars narrated by Ira Flatow of Public Radio’s Science Friday and Bill Nye the Science Guy, allowing you to enjoy the PB&J (passion, beauty and joy) of the Red Planet through their eyes.

Mars in Google Earth.  Credit: Google

Mars in Google Earth. Credit: Google


So how do you enjoy these new features? Open Google Earth, and after selecting ‘Mars’ from the toolbar in Google Earth, users fly to a 3D view of the Red Planet, complete with informational layers, imagery, and terrain. The tools for navigation and exploration on Mars are identical to those on Earth – zoom in and out, change the camera view, or spin the entire planet with a click of the mouse.
Historical maps in Google Mars.  Credit: Google.

Historical maps in Google Mars. Credit: Google.


Just as in the original version of Mars in Google Earth, users can read geo-located articles from Hartmann’s “A Traveler’s Guide to Mars” about the solar system’s largest canyon, Valles Marineris, its tallest volcano, Olympus Mons, the infamous ‘Face on Mars’, and many other famous Martian locations. Users can also follow the paths of Mars rovers and view hi-resolution panoramic photos of the Mars surface.

Google’s Communication and Public Affairs officer Aaron Stein noted the “Live From Mars” imagery is the most current available from the THEMIS camera. ” Our live imagery is the most current available imagery from THEMIS,” he said. “It’s not unusual for NASA to save up and download one or two days of images at a time, so downloads do not always occur within hours of image acquisition. Despite this, Live from Mars is orders of magnitude more “live” than the typical NASA public data release process, which for Mars imagery typically takes many months.”

Enjoy — It’s fun, it’s free, and a great way to lose yourself for a few hours!

Source: Google Earth

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Ian O'Neill March 13, 2009 at 4:58 PM

I wonder when we’ll have so much precision in data collection that we’ll actually be able to “experience” a scientifically realistic world in a virtual reality? Perhaps we are seeing the start of a fully immersive virtual Solar System. I geeked out in a recent article pondering this: http://www.astroengine.com/?p=4015

Thanks Nancy for the cool article… Now I know where my afternoon is going… to Mars! :)

Cheers, Ian

robbie March 13, 2009 at 1:24 PM

After being in Phoenix for 10 days and returning to see there was a +200 posts for rotating twin black holes and was a protracted ‘exchange of truths’ pitting 50 people against 2 and ends in a stalemate, I say I will make this my last post and stay away from Dodge Lol. Those 50 people should be ashamed they could not defeat and crush those 2, oh well. To the subject, I loved Google Earth since its’ start a few years ago and will enjoy the updates as it gets better data. Take care all as I”ve learned alot but I have to get to calmer seas LOL

Salacious B. Crumb March 13, 2009 at 2:11 PM

I’ll give credit where credit is due when I say this is a really brilliant initiative by NASA and Google. Such hands-on publicity giving even kids the ability to explore Mars for themselves, will enthusing them to want to go there in the future one day.
After several publicity orientated campaigns in recent months, and the economic gloom and doom hanging over all our heads, it is nice to see some optimism and real forward thinking.
Fun and games coming up to whittle away a few hours indeed!

Jorge March 13, 2009 at 3:37 PM

No. I see the overlapping calderas of Mount Olympus.

Richie March 13, 2009 at 4:02 PM

Google mars, great, google earth great, except where I live the resolution is so bad you cannot see roads or rivers or anything, just a fuzz, I just wish they would finish the earth in hi-res before getting side-tracked elsewhere…

ThereIsNoSuchThingAsMagic March 13, 2009 at 4:10 PM

@NASA & Google & everyone involved: Thank you, thank you, thank you! Nothing but good can come out of this…

ThereIsNoSuchThingAsMagic March 13, 2009 at 4:12 PM

@DimaR: when i see it it looks like a dogs head.
But yeah, a good example of Pareidolia at work :)

Olaf March 13, 2009 at 4:46 PM

So can we see martians? ;-)

Olaf March 13, 2009 at 5:34 PM

I am wondering, do we have images of the viking lander itsel taken from orbit? They have them from the mars rovers.

ThereIsNoSuchThingAsMagic March 13, 2009 at 5:38 PM

Olaf: We surely do!

spacespin.org/article.php/hirise-photographs-spirit-vikings

Olaf March 13, 2009 at 5:52 PM

Wow cool!
I didn’t know we had those.

Is Viking smaller than the rovers?

ThereIsNoSuchThingAsMagic March 13, 2009 at 6:00 PM

yeah it is…..from Wikipedia: The (Viking) lander consisted of a six-sided aluminum base with alternate 1.09-m and 0.56-m long sides, supported on three extended legs attached to the shorter sides. The leg footpads formed the vertices of an equilateral triangle with 2.21 m sides when viewed from above,

Mars rovers: ( from wikipedia) The rovers are six-wheeled, solar-powered robots which stand 1.5 m (4.9 ft) high, 2.3 m (7.5 ft) wide and 1.6 m (5.2 ft) long

Marco March 13, 2009 at 6:06 PM

Now we can finally do a proper search for the Lost City of the Mini-Bigfoots.

Olaf March 13, 2009 at 6:10 PM

Marco for that you need a microscope!

Olaf March 13, 2009 at 6:12 PM

@DimaR, sorry I only see Mars, nothing special.

jkw March 14, 2009 at 4:13 AM

I won’t be truly happy until we send a whole bunch of smart boys and girls to Mars to start digging and cataloging and reporting their findings.

Marco March 14, 2009 at 3:30 PM

@ Olaf,

Then by all means, UT readers unite! We must build the first space microscope. Or, we could just search for a high concentration of the Wooden Planks. First we do a survey of all known planks to get the proper Plank length. Then we begin our search.

I always thought that Little Green Men would be, well, green. Who would have thought that they were brown and furry instead. I guess Little Brown Furry Men does not have the same ring. I suppose that the Men in Black wear plaid or pinstripes too. My conspiracy worldview is taking quite the beating.

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