Google Earth 5 – The New Google Mars

[UPDATED] One of my favorite new major features of Google Earth 5 is the new Mars mode. This feature isn’t obvious when you first load up Google Earth 5, but it is fantastic! After loading Google Earth you look for the little planet icon at the top center of the view. Click on it and you will see a menu. You now can switch between Earth, Sky, AND Mars.

Mars option in Google Earth 5

Once you select this, Google Earth transforms itself in a view of Mars instead of Earth. This is NOT just an image overlay on top of Earth! Its a complete simulation of the planet Mars just like Google Earth. You use the same controls, and there is even a set of very useful layers just like in Google Earth. Here’s a screenshot:
Mars in Google Earth 5

Zooming in is where the real excitement begins. Google shows satellite imagery just like with Google Earth of the martian surface. Not only that, but they have 3D terrain as well! Look at this shot of Valleris Maneris (the huge grand canyon of Mars):
Valleris Maneris in Google Earth 5

And, that’s just the beginning. There are very high resolution satellite images from the HiRISE imaging system on the Mars Reconnaissance Observatory satellite. You’ll see strips of HiRISE imagery overlayed in Google Mars. These images are just as high resolution as those you often find in Google Earth. You can see things down to the size of cars or even smaller in these images!
See this shot of a crater with the HiRISE imagery:
Crater on Mars with HiRISE in Google Earth 5

Google Mars layersOMG…this is really cool! Check out the layer folders on the left. Open up the Mars Gallery->Rovers and Landers. Then double-click on MER Opportunity Rover layer folder.
This will fly you to the place where the robotic explorer known as “Opportunity” moved across Mars. You can see its track, and as you zoom in you can see where it went. Like when it went into Victoria Crater in September of 2006. Check out this screenshot which also shows that you can see panoramic photooverlays of color photos by Opportunity:
Google Mars rover tracks and photos.

[UPDATE: Here’s a video I’ve created illustrating all of this in more detail:

Download the new Google Earth 5 now and you can launch yourself to Mars right now! It’s free!

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.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.


  1. Greg Croft says

    Wow! This is really amazing!

  2. This is wonderful! I’ve been hoping for full Mars support in Google Earth for a while now.
    Any idea how well this works with Sketchup? The ability to site 3D models of spacecraft and structures would be fantastic…

  3. David Lewiston says

    Yes, I like the new GE. Glad it’s being improved.
    Two things:
    1. The Hawaiian island of Lanai is labelled Maui in GE5.
    2. I’m disappointed that the resolution of the Himalayan region around Dharamsala is still not improved.

  4. View of Mars seems to start at equivalent ‘lat/lomg’ and altitude that you have just quit on Earth, and vice versa, with one little aspect that is probably not meant to carry over – I get GE’s selection of major place marks like the Eifel Tower and Nelson’s Column on Mars!

  5. I just noticed that on google mars the atmosphere shines blue. On your screenshot it apears orange. Did anybody else has the same blue atmosphere?

  6. @Peter: The problem with blue atmosphere on Mars occurs if you have an old graphics/video cards. New cards show the right atmosphere. You also probably do not see sunrise/set on Google Earth.

  7. yay, they have finaly given us mars.
    This is fantastic, and just another thing to do to waste my time.

  8. Shame on my computer … It´s time to upgrade my hardware :-). Sunrise and sunset are also not available.

  9. And you can talk to Meliza bot in the Cydonia region! :-).

  10. my mac, a macbook pro 2.0, will be 3 years old in march, and it renders everything 100%;_)
    so recent is a relative term;-)

  11. Ab-so-lute-ly blinkin’ amazin’ !
    Loved it, zooming into the panorama pics, little things like the small rocks, track marks in the dust.
    Meliza bot took a while to learn “lol” – please keep teaching her everyone!

  12. This Mars thing is so great!! love it..

  13. I found out that Google Earth 5 is fully compatible with my Modified Mars add-on. The terraforming map folds itself over the terrain which adds a whole new dimension and looks especially great using the flight simulator!
    Only the sea looks a bit rough, since that part also folds itself on the terrain; as far as I can see there’s no way to define a continuous blue surface around the whole planet.
    (It seems wise to first set GE to Mars and then open the kmz; at least my computer crashed a few times when I tried it the other way around.)

  14. Very nice new addition to the program overall and a great resource for those in multiple industries that have assets “in-the-field”. One bug I did notice is the daylight season change on the Mars view is still coded for Earth and not Mars.

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  16. Does anybody know how to enter coordinates in mars?

  17. Really liking exploring Mars. Some of the detail is breath taking.
    You can enter co-ordinates with e.g “15N 144W”

  18. Paul Bealer says

    I just tried to download the latest update, but, guess what? After I downloaded it, I got a message that Google Chrome, my default browser, is not supported. I find it hard to believe that Google doesn’t support it’s own browser. BTW, It did download and I am using it now. Go figure!

  19. Pete Gordon says

    1, The new GE is completely unable to address my Mac 10.5.
    2. I noticed that GE does not show a border between China and Tibet. Do you do this so you will be allowed to operate in China?
    Most of us still recognize Tibet as being an independent nation occupied by Chinese forces, same status as Palestine, which is shown with its own borders.
    Pete Gordon

  20. I like this feature.. Hope there would be a Google Jupiter possibly

  21. While in the “Mars” and “Sky” mode on GE, I can’t seem to be able to do searches or “fly to’s”. I was able to do that until I upgraded to GE 5. Any suggestions? I upgraded to 5 on my home computer and it works fine, just doesn’t seem to work correctly on my work PC. I’ve tried reinstalling GE to no avail.

  22. A big white patch is seen on the southern side of mars in GE. what is that and why isnt it clear?
    please update the imagery!

  23. does google ocean work and How do I get it TO work?

  24. When can we expect to be able to enter a HiRISE or other image number (PSP…,etc) in ‘Fly To’ and be taken to the site of the image? This is impossible now, but would be of tremendous contextual help to those of us doing serious Mars research.

  25. Wow, this is totally awesome!
    To answer a previous question, it seems to work fine with Sketchup. I just built a quick 2001 obelisk and stuck it in the sand 😉

  26. Ok, I read Peters comment about how the mars atmosphere appears blue on his computer and someone responded that it was the graphics card and that he probably can’t see sunrise or sunset…well is the sunrise sunset thing when you click on sun and then the whole planet adjusts to dark and bright spots according to the timezones because my computer does that…it just doesn’t display the orange mars atmoshere its blue instead!
    Can anyone explain this to me please…Thanks



  28. check this out (on Mars)
    19.082587° -33.272995°

  29. Try the flight simulator on mars. Seriously!

  30. no facts and good pics

  31. i hope the uk will open a space agency think of the posabilitys and i would like nasa to improve on taking more people into space i know i would although im 12 i am so inspired about the cosmos that i would want to be a cosmolagist like my hero steven hawking and all the others and phisasists and scientists in genral Stephen hawkin has helped me to understand the universe better than the science musiem in london his show stephen hawkings universe explains how time travel is posible and what aliens might look like he is amaszing i would want to be like him one day and go to university to become a cosmolagist scientist and phisasist

  32. Mars has taken over my Google Earth. I can’t get plain old earth back. Tried the drop-down menu on the GE toolbar – no joy.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.