I'm not a big moon guy, which has always seemed boring to me given the myth of Mars and little green men, but I have to admire the way Google today is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing.
The company's Google Earth team went beyond its purview to create Moon in Google Earth, which maps the lunar landscape and provides more info about the Apollo landing sites, panoramic images shot by the Apollo astronauts and tours as an educational tool for grade schoolers.
To access the new applications, users must download and access Google Earth 5.0. Users can then click the planet button on the top toolbar of Google Earth, and choose Moon.
Once the app zips users to the moon, they'll have the usual Google Earth navigational controls, including the ability to drag the mouse on the globe to fly around and use the layers panel in the lower-left corner to discover content.
A "human artifacts" layer shows objects humans left on the moon. Users can also watch video clips of Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon, and get tours from Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin and Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison "Jack" Schmitt.
Check out this video, with an introduction from Schmitt, for the tour:
Each of the Apollo landing missions is chronicled through pictures and stories, including an Apollo missions layer. There are also 3D lunar surface panoramas, composed of photos taken by the astronauts when they visited the moon:
Google's overriding mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. With new projects such as Moon in Google Earth, it's clear Google wants to organize the universe's information and make it accessible to our world.
This is a noble achievement by any measure. One wonders how deep the Google rabbit hole in space exploration will go? Will Jupiter, Mars, Saturn and the like get the same microscopic treatment?
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