When Google Moon was released last year, it was a bit of a joke. Google Earth, but for the Moon. Zoom in far enough and the familiar lunar craters were replaced with swiss cheese. The time for silliness is over, Google Moon has gotten an update, and they’re making it a serious learning tool this time around. The website incorporates photographs from orbiters and the Apollo missions to let you zoom in and out, exploring the Moon.
Head over to Google Moon, and follow along. You can change the view between Charts, Apollo, Visible and Elevation. All of the Apollo landing sites are marked on the map, so you can click each one to get more information.
Zoom in all the way, and you don’t see swiss cheese anymore. Instead you see the most detailed images available from NASA showing high resolution details about the landing sites. Each landing site has more than 10 additional detailed place markers, showing points of interest about the mission.
For example, click on the Apollo 16 mission, and the interface informs you there are 21 additional place markers. Click to zoom in, and you can see all the little markers. Click on any one and you’ll see more details, such as interesting rocks, craters, and landing spacecraft. Some of the detailed views are just photographs, but others are panoramas that you can scroll around to see the landscape from the astronauts’ point of view. Very cool!
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There are also some landmarks with audio clips and video clips. All in all, the site feels like an educational CD-ROM.
And that’s part of its problem – it’s not really an atlas of the Moon, and more of a presentation of the Apollo missions. Many of those lunar craters have names. There are plenty more interesting features on the Moon than just the Apollo landing sites. I’d love to see some of that information incorporated as well. They could also bring in images from other spacecraft, like ESA’s SMART-1 to provide better coverage in some areas.
My other concern is that it doesn’t really work if you zoom all the way out. Instead of seeing a nice view of the whole Moon, there’s a confusing set of repeating images showing the same portions of the Moon over and over again. Google Maps does the same thing with the Earth, but still, it should look like you’re zooming into the Moon.
Anyway, enough of my review, check it out at http://www.google.com/moon
Original Source: NASA News Release