NASA and Google Sign “Space Act Agreement”

[NOTE: See update from press briefing]

Google and NASA’s Ames Research Center have signed a “Space Act Agreement“. The agreement is to formally establish a relationship to work together on a variety of challenging technical problems. Since NASA Ames research center is very close to Google Headquarters it is natural they would look to work together. I was planning to get more details on a press briefing I was invited to attend via teleconference, but the conference filled up well in advance. Here are some highlights from NASA’s Press Release:

Google and Ames will focus on making the most useful of NASA’s information available on the Internet. Real-time weather visualization and forecasting, high-resolution 3- D maps of the moon and Mars, real-time tracking of the International Space Station and the space shuttle will be explored in the future.

And here are comments from NASA Administrator Mike Griffin:

“This agreement between NASA and Google will soon allow every American to experience a virtual flight over the surface of the moon or through the canyons of Mars,” said NASA Administrator Michael Griffin at Headquarters in Washington. “This innovative combination of information technology and space science will make NASA’s space exploration work accessible to everyone,” added Griffin.

The PR guys really picked a simplistic quote for this one. NASA and Google are both already allowing virtual flights through World Wind and Google Earth. Some better comments from Google CEO Eric Schmidt:

“Partnering with NASA made perfect sense for Google, as it has a wealth of technical expertise and data that will be of great use to Google as we look to tackle many computing issues on behalf of our users,” said Eric Schmidt, chief executive officer of Google. “We’re pleased to move forward to collaborate on a variety of technical challenges through the signing of the Space Act Agreement.”

One of the architects of this agreement at NASA Ames, Chris Kemp, was quoted:

“We’ve worked hard over the past year to implement an agreement that enables NASA and Google to work closely together on a wide range of innovative collaborations,” said Kemp. “We are bringing together some of the best research scientists and engineers to form teams to make more of NASA’s vast information accessible.”

What is missing so far are specific objectives. They originally proposed forming such a relationship over a year ago. I guess it takes a while to work out details on a partnership of this magnitude. Many divisions of NASA have already been working independently to put data in Google Earth and World Wind. But, hopefully this will stimulate even more rapid and far reaching visualizations of NASA’s vast archives of data.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. Real-time tracking of space journeys? wow!

  2. Please hear this:
    I’m very interested in this relationship between Google and NASA. As an average citizen from MN I would love to see/hear more about space, our planets the moon, etc.
    But if if affects our Earth re: global warming – HANDS DOWN, I say no – I beg you, please don’t do it now if it harms the future health of this planet.
    I would like to hear a follow up from someone regarding this e-mail.
    Thank you for your time.
    Mpls, MN

  3. When space flight becomes the norm. How will we navigate through space? Will we use simple geometry and the planets? Will there be a fixed location in the centre of the universe as a point of reference? Where is the centre of the universe?
    Will Sat Nav be used with beacons on various planets?

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