Fly yourself to the moon

Monday, July 20, 2009 at 8:00 AM


On July 20, 1969, two human beings landed on the moon for the first time. Forty years later, that accomplishment still stands as an unmatched moment in the history of human exploration. It was a truly wondrous event that captured imaginations worldwide -- nearly a billion people (one quarter of the Earth's population at the time) followed it moment-by-moment on live TV or radio, around the globe.

Today, on the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing, Google is proud to announce the release of Moon in Google Earth, bringing you one step closer to understanding the experience of standing on the moon. It brings the Apollo stories out of the history books, recreating them in an immersive and interactive 3D environment.

To see for yourself, all you need is Google Earth 5.0 (if you already have it, no upgrade is required). Just click the planet button on the top toolbar of Google Earth, and choose Moon. You'll be flown to the Moon, at which point you have all the same usual Google Earth controls -- drag your mouse on the globe to fly around, and use the Layers panel in the lower-left corner to discover content. Double-click any Layers item to fly to it.


Each of the Apollo landing missions is chronicled in detail through pictures and stories. We've even embedded video footage from Spacecraft Films that covers the most well-known moments on the surface. There are also immersive lunar surface panoramas, composed of photos taken by the astronauts themselves, presented for the first time in a 3D "Street View" style interface:

The Human Artifacts layer contains locations and trivia on every robotic spacecraft that's ever landed on or crashed into the moon. Those that did land successfully are represented by 3D models, such as Luna 9 from the USSR:

You can turn on the Historical Maps layer to see maps that NASA itself used in the Apollo missions. Or just fly around and explore the 3D terrain:

If you get lost, that's no problem... just pull up the Guided Tours layer. There you'll find author Andrew Chaikin (A Man on the Moon) and Apollo 11 astronaut and author Buzz Aldrin (Magnificent Desolation) co-narrating an immersive fly-through tour of the Apollo 11 landing site. Harrison H. Schmitt, Apollo 17 astronaut and Fusion Technology Institute faculty member, is also on hand to describe his experience as the only geologist to have walked on the Moon.


The tours are like a movie, but better... when you pause, you can actually look around with the camera! See the Google Earth User Guide for more info.

Moon in Google Earth was made possible by Google's Space Act Agreement, which allowed NASA Ames researchers to help us develop much of its content. We're also grateful to JAXA, Japan's space agency, for donating a global terrain dataset of the Moon.

We hope that you enjoy Moon in Google Earth. Explore it today, in observation of the 40th anniversary of one of humanity's finest moments.

Michael Weiss-Malik, Product Manager, Moon in Google Earth