Feature

NASA and Google Launch Virtual Exploration of the Moon
07.20.09
 
Forty years ago on July 20, 1969, the world watched as the crew of Apollo 11 took the first steps on the surface of the moon.

To celebrate this historic occasion, NASA and Google announced the launch of the Moon in Google Earth, an interactive, 3D atlas of the moon, viewable with Google Earth 5.0.

The announcement was made during a press conference at the Newseum in Washington, featuring remarks by Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin; Alan Eustace, a Google senior vice president; Andrew Chaikin, author and space historian; and Anousheh Ansari, the first female space tourist.

With the Moon in Google Earth, users can explore a virtual moonscape, follow guided tours from astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Jack Schmidt, view high-resolution "street view" style panoramic images and see previously unreleased footage captured from the lunar surface.

Whether rediscovering iconic moments from the history of lunar exploration, or learning about them for the first time, the Moon in Google Earth enables users to better understand the moon and mankind's relationship to it using an immersive, 3D experience.

The result of a close collaboration with NASA, the Moon in Google Earth showcases current and historic content about the moon. All NASA data sets used in the Moon in Google Earth are included on a non-exclusive basis.

"Today's announcement builds on the ongoing relationship with Google that Ames Research Center initiated in November 2006, when we signed a Space Act Agreement to foster collaboration with our Silicon Valley neighbor," said S. Pete Worden, director of NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. "We're excited to be a part of this latest chapter in Google's efforts to bring virtual exploration of the moon to anyone with a computer."

In addition to satellite imagery and topographical data, the following layers can be explored:
  • Featured Satellite Imagery – Explore overlaid satellite imagery and detailed descriptions of selected areas on the moon from Arizona State University's "Lunar Image of the Week."
  • Spacecraft Imagery - View selected imagery captured by the Apollo Metric Camera, and the Clementine and the Lunar Orbiter spacecraft.
  • Apollo Missions – Travel back to the Apollo era and discover the landing sites of Apollo missions 11-17. Explore "street view" style panoramic images, watch previously unreleased footage from spacecraft films and read about the places astronauts saw on their trips to the moon.
  • Guided Tours – Take a narrated tour of the moon with Apollo astronauts Buzz Aldrin (Apollo 11) and Jack Schmitt (Apollo 17)
  • Historic Maps – Explore Apollo-era geologic and topographic maps of the moon.
  • Human Artifacts – Learn about the various types of exploratory equipment that humans have left on the moon and where those objects can be found today.


To learn more about Moon in Google Earth, visit:

earth.google.com/moon


The Moon in Google Earth was jointly developed by Google, the NASA Ames Intelligent Robotics Group, and the SETI Institute as part of NASA's Planetary Content project.

Data sets for the Moon in Google Earth were developed with the assistance of the United States Geologic Survey (USGS), Arizona State University and the Lunar and Planetary Institute. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency provided terrain data from the Kaguya orbiter. The initial release does not contain any imagery from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The NASA Lunar Mapping and Modeling Project provided a high-resolution base map and 3D terrain model covering a portion of the nearside lunar equatorial region, which was developed using new digital scans of the Apollo 15 Metric Camera (orbit 33) images made by Arizona State University and NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. The NASA Exploration Systems Mission Directorate Analogs Program provided content for the Apollo 17 tour.

For more information about NASA's plans to return to the moon and explore beyond, visit:

http://exploration.nasa.gov


View of high-resolution base map and 3D terrain model covering a strip of the nearside lunar equatorial region, which was developed by the NASA Lunar Mapping and Modeling Project using new digital scans of the Apollo 15 Metric Camera. Left: View of high-resolution base map and 3D terrain model covering a strip of the nearside lunar equatorial region, which was developed by the NASA Lunar Mapping and Modeling Project using new digital scans of the Apollo 15 Metric Camera.
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Entries from the Apollo Lunar Surface journal are embedded as pop-up windows for all Apollo crew traverses. Shown here is an entry from the Apollo 15 mission. Left: Entries from the Apollo Lunar Surface journal are embedded as pop-up windows for all Apollo crew traverses. Shown here is an entry from the Apollo 15 mission.
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Colored global elevation map based on terrain data from the Kaguya orbiter (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency). Left: Colored global elevation map based on terrain data from the Kaguya orbiter (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency).
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Global view of Google Moon 3D showing a variety of placemarks containing high-resolution orbital and surface images, historic maps, human artifacts landed on the Moon, and guided tours. Left: Global view of Google Moon 3D showing a variety of placemarks containing high-resolution orbital and surface images, historic maps, human artifacts landed on the Moon, and guided tours.
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Close up view of Hadley Rille and the Apollo 15 traverse map. Left: Close up view of Hadley Rille and the Apollo 15 traverse map.
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View of the Apollo 15 landing site showing Hadley Rille, Hadley C crater, and the Appenine Mountains. The 3D terrain model and high-resolution imagery (10 m/pixel) were provided by the NASA Lunar Mapping and Modeling Project using new digital scans of the Apollo 15 Metric Camera. Left: View of the Apollo 15 landing site showing Hadley Rille, Hadley C crater, and the Appenine Mountains. The 3D terrain model and high-resolution imagery (10 m/pixel) were provided by the NASA Lunar Mapping and Modeling Project using new digital scans of the Apollo 15 Metric Camera.
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Several dozen Left: Several dozen "Lunar Image of the Week" images from the Arizona State University and stories are embedded as pop-up windows across the lunar surface.
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Panorama from Apollo 15 showing Astronaut David R. Scott in front of the Lunar Roving Vehicle during the mission's third extravehicular activity (EVA-3). Left: Panorama from Apollo 15 showing Astronaut David R. Scott in front of the Lunar Roving Vehicle during the mission's third extravehicular activity (EVA-3).
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Panorama from Apollo 17 at Shorty Crater. Astronaut and geologist Harrison H. Schmitt is shown next to the Lunar Roving Vehicle at the spot where he discovered orange volcanic soil. Left: Panorama from Apollo 17 at Shorty Crater. Astronaut and geologist Harrison H. Schmitt is shown next to the Lunar Roving Vehicle at the spot where he discovered orange volcanic soil.
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Michael Mewhinney
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.