Live from Mars!

Friday, March 13, 2009 at 10:50 AM


Just last month, we released Mars in Google Earth 5.0 and finally satisfied the long-standing demands of our Martian userbase. However, much to our delight, Mars has also proven popular among Earthlings, so today we're pleased to announce several new features for Mars in Google Earth designed specifically for our human users. Together they highlight humanity's newest and oldest views of the red planet: Live from Mars, Historical Maps, and Guided Tours.

Live from Mars: NASA's typical release process for Mars satellite imagery requires months, and involves numerous stages of calibration. But thanks to the THEMIS camera team at Arizona State University, you could turn on the new 'Live from Mars' layer and become one of the very first people to lay eyes on images taken just days or even hours ago! This feature represents the first public continuous stream of fresh high-resolution satellite imagery in the solar system, and can display new images from the THEMIS camera just hours after NASA receives them. You can also see live satellite orbital tracks, or check out where the HiRISE camera plans to image next.

Historical Maps: In the late 1800s, Giovanni Schiaparelli created many of the earliest detailed maps of Mars. He famously saw, recorded, and named numerous linear features on the surface, some of which he termed cannali (Italian for channel). His contemporary, Percival Lowell, re-imagined and misunderstood these features to be artificial canals, sparking a media frenzy back on Earth and captivating the public with the idea of abundant water and an alien civilization on Mars. The Historical Globes layer lets you see these and other antique maps of Mars as virtual spinning globes.
Guided Tours: If you're not sure where to go on Mars, let Bill Nye the Science Guy and Ira Flatow of Public Radio's Science Friday show you around. Simply go to the Mars Gallery layer, and double-click either of their tours for a narrated trip around the Martian surface. This is a great way to introduce yourself to some of the most interesting spots on the planet - just sit back, and enjoy the ride. If something catches your eye, you can pause these tours at any time and explore on your own, then hit play to resume your journey. These tours were created with the new Touring feature in Google Earth 5.0.

Mars in Google Earth also contains several other layers with useful information about the Red Planet. There's a browsable layer of our favorite satellite images, visible and infrared global views, geo-located excerpts from A Traveler's Guide to Mars, and others. We've also included 3D models of NASA rovers and, if you follow their tracks, the 360-degree panoramic photos they captured from the surface. Just like browsing on Earth, you can use the search box to locate famous sites like the face on Mars. Who knows, you might just find a new Martian friend to chat with...

To enter Mars in Google Earth, click the planets button in the main toolbar and select 'Mars':


We hope you enjoy these latest additions. They're made possible by Google's Space Act Agreement with NASA, which enabled NASA Ames researchers to develop much of this content. You can visit earth.google.com/mars to learn more about Mars in Google Earth.