Google Earth promises the moon …

20 Jul 2009

… and delivers. To celebrate the fact that 40 years ago today on July 20, 1969, humankind first set foot on the surface of the moon, Google is offering us the chance to carry out our own exploration of the lunar landscape with an addition to Google Earth 5.0.

Developed as a result of the Space Act Agreement between Google and NASA, Moon in Google Earth offers a three dimensional exploration of all the mapped areas of the moon, with some high-resolution panoramic images, as well as previously unreleased video footage taken from the lunar surface.

Moon in Google Earth doesn’t just offer the chance to do your own explorations; there are several guided tours including an amazing journey following the exact path of Apollo 11 as it landed with just seconds worth of fuel left to spare.

As you watch Apollo 11 settle on the surface of the moon, you then hear the voice of Buzz Aldrin as he describes the experience as well as sound bites from the time including the famous “One small step…” speech.

The mapping of Moon in Google Earth Moon was developed using a complete lunar terrain data-set by Kaguya LALT, and produced by JAXA/NAOJ, which serves as the atlas’ base-map.

There are extra features including a section on human artifacts – this means you can find out about the various bits and pieces of exploratory equipment that astronauts from the United States, the Soviet Union, China, the EU, Japan, and India have left behind them, and some are in 3D models.

“Forty years ago, two human beings walked on the Moon. Starting today, with Moon in Google Earth, it’s now possible for anyone to follow in their footsteps,” said Moon in Google Earth product manager, Michael Weiss-Malik.

“We’re giving hundreds of millions of people around the world unprecedented access to an interactive 3D presentation of the Apollo missions.”

So go on, visit the dark side of the moon.