Google Mars: Explore missions, mysteries and motherships

You’ll have heard of Google Earth. Did you know it also contains Google Mars?

Google Mars: Summit of Olympus Mons

Google Mars: Summit of Olympus Mons

Download the Desktop version…

It’s a complex tool, to be sure, but there are tutorials available. One of the best things is that all the manned missions are pinpointed and mapped, and pretty much all the major photography is accessible in context. From the overhead swathes from the various orbiters to panoramas from rover & lander cameras. With the panoramas it will even place them as a wraparound that you can “stand” inside of and look around.

5-year mission path of Opportunity rover with multiple panorama shots

There’s a guided tour of Mars exploration that zooms you around with a narrator explaining the history of Martian exploration through the various probes. Unfortunately it’s not up to date, making no mention of Curiosity at all. Yet. As the mission goes on and the updates come down, this will end up being one of the foremost record of the project as a whole.

But when you delve into it, the depth of imagery is quite astounding. Sure, you can fly and zoom about, but if you want to, you can click into the very highest-resolution satellite photos of the surface.

Or, alternatively, you can overlay a hand-drawn map from the 19th century…

Giovanni Schiparelli’s map of Mars (1890)

The level of detail is such that some pointy-headed, tinfoil-hatted types have scoured it and “found” things. Things such as evidence of artificial structures, alien motherships and other anomalies. Discoveries of such fundamentally paradigm-shifting significance they can only be expressed through a clunky slideshow with a Nine Inch Nails soundtrack…

Oh, and you also get Google Earth…


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