Just last month, Google released Google Earth 5 which not only had a ton of new cool features including the 3D oceans of Earth, but also included a very cool 3D Mars. If you haven’t checked out Mars yet, now you have even more reason to try it out. Today, in honor of Giovanni Schiaparelli‘s birthday, Google has released a big update to the Mars layers in GE 5 (you don’t need to re-download GE 5).
To see the update just load up GE 5 (or go here to download it if you haven’t already downloaded GE 5), then look for the “planet” icon at the top and choose “Mars“:
Once the new Mars loads, there are three new features added today (all found under the Mars Gallery layer folder):
Live from Mars – This new layer includes two sub-layers which show the most current imagery from two Mars orbiters: THEMIS and HiRES. NASA worked with Google to streamline their processing of imagery so that you can see the latest imagery from these satellites in as little as a few hours from when the imagery was received by NASA. It’s almost like webcams from space! If you haven’t already done so, make sure you check out some of the other super high-res imagery available for loading in Mars under the “Spacecraft Imagery” layers. Amazing stuff!
Historical Maps – Load up antique global maps of Mars to see what historical astronomers saw and compare to our current views of the planet. You’ll find maps of Mars by Giovanni, Percival Lowell (who thought he saw canals on Mars), and others. One interesting note – the older astronomers appeared to have picked the wrong pole for North (basically because their refracting telescopes had the image upside down).
Guided Tours – Google is making use of the new GE 5 touring function to have narrated tours of mars by NPR Science Friday’s Ira Flatow and one by Bill Nye the Science Guy. But, it’s not just the famous narrators, check out these 3D fly-throughs of Mars. These tours will really give you an education about Mars in just a few minutes, and really give you a feel for the immense amount of useful information availabe in GE 5′s Mars. If you haven’t tried anything else, at least try these tours!!
Also, check out the video of my first impressions of the Mars mode when it was first released.
Google says the new data was 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. I was fortunate enough to speak with Michael Weiss-Malik of Google to get some of these details. He’s written more about the new Mars update in his post at Google LatLong.
UPDATE 1630 ET: Google also released this video of the new Mars data: