Google Earth Mars Update – Live Imagery from Another Planet

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).

New Mars update for Google Earth 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“:
Mars option in Google Earth 5

Once the new Mars loads, there are three new features added today (all found under the Mars Gallery layer folder):

  1. 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!

  2. 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).

  3. 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 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:

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. to bad there isnt Live from Earth.

  2. This is really great!! =)
    Why not the moon???

  3. Isn’t “live Mars” a contradiction in terms? But let us know if anything moves.

  4. Dana Johnson says:

    Version 5.0 is is a great new advance in the Google Earth program, and the GE 5/Mars addition brings the program to real value as a research aid for the amateur science and common people following the Mars missions. I am sure researcher professionals will use it as well.
    Several additions would help in the amount of information transferred by the program, making it more advanced than any other Mars imagery viewer available online:
    A integrated pixel (X,Y) count interactive readout of the scene point of reference for external pin-pointing of the features which are sometimes confusing and vague in the terrain views.
    A Dynamic Range control for interpreting the tonal patterns in the scenes is invaluable in finding material types, terrain patterns, and selective details for closeup identification. It would improve the fine spatial controls already provided in GE 5/Mars. I have to use a photo editor for that now, image by image from GE5/Mars ‘saved’ items.
    The inclusion of the large database of the MER rover Micro-Imager photos in the newest viewer with the spatial controls would give an advantage to those seeking a closeup view of the crystals, mineral types, and other less identified mysteries in the truly ‘extra-terrestrial’ scenes available to us now only through photo editor fixed viewing.
    The current Marsroverblog ‘s would be greatly improved in content if the several changes were added to the database and controls.
    I’ll upgrade my new GE5/Mars today to incorporate the new layer/sources just released.
    Planetary geology and space sciences for the common man- the world will be transformed within a lifetime.

  5. The “tours” of Mars with photos/explanations are outstanding! I wish I had this technology when I was a kid!

  6. NEW: Google Earth full Mars Crater Map.
    Makes Google Eart a great tool to explore Gale Crater, the Mars rover landingsite

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.