Google Earth has the built in option to switch to the Moon or Mars. We have looked at various ways to look at other planets in the past. Many of the best came from James Stafford’s Barnabu blog. Last year we also showed you how to turn Google Earth into various planets using maps provided by the SETI Institute on the Google Maps Gallery. Sadly, they appear to be no-longer available.
NASA’s MESSENGER mission to the planet Mercury recently came to an end with the spacecraft running out of fuel and crashing into the planet on April 30th, 2015.
NASA provides a KMZ that you can download here. It essentially turns Google Earth into Google Mercury. So download it, and try it out. For best results, turn off all the Google Earth layers.
Also included in the KMZ are four Google Earth tours by members of the MESSENGER team. Be sure to check them out. There are also a large number of place markers, which, when you click on them, show a specific photo of the surface of Mercury and some detailed information and comments about the photo and what we can learn from it.
About Timothy Whitehead
Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.
Ariel Waldman says
MESSENGER crashed into Mercury on April 30th, not 20th
Timothy Whitehead says
Thank you, I have corrected it.
Just about a month ago, in posting to the new Google Earth Community Forum, I made mention of the planetary and moon globes … “There are 19 maps, including the planets from Mercury to Neptune, as well as moons of Jupiter and Saturn. The globes and flat maps are annotated with the names of larger features.”
I had considered creating globes of as many planets and moons as were available but when I found the map page I figured I’d save myself some work. It looks like I missed my chance. Now all I see, as you said is…
Maps from SETI Institute 0 – 0 of 0
The Mercury map is great though, with lots of links.