Google flies you to the moon

On the 40th anniversary of the Apollo lunar walk, Google launches the Moon in Google Earth, providing 3D images and information to would-be space tourists.

Google Earth can now take you to the moon.

Timed with the 40th anniversary of the first moon walk, the Internet giant on Monday released an addition to its Google Earth mapping software to provide images of moon landscapes and traces of human exploration there.

Called the Moon in Google Earth and available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, the software allows you to see topographical features on our closest celestial neighbor with the lunar equivalent of Google Street View. People can also see a gallery of the Apollo space missions and get information on every robotic spacecraft that has visited the moon.

"This tool will make it easier for millions of people to learn about space, our moon and some of the most significant and dazzling discoveries humanity has accomplished together," Anousheh Ansari, a trustee of X Prize Foundation and the first female private space explorer, said Monday on a Google blog.

Google is hosting an event Monday to launch the Moon in Google Earth site at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., where Ansari and Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin will speak.

To access the images from Google Earth, you select Moon from the toolbar in Google Earth. From there, the viewer zooms down to get detailed images of the moon's surface.

From the left panel, people can surface information about the moon, including historical charts used by astronauts for training and NASA mission control. High-resolution photos break down the moon's surface into different quadrants to show its features.

The tool is designed to teach people about the missions to the moon by visiting the various Apollo landing sites. After zooming into a location, people can see video clips and panoramic stills taken by the astronauts, such as Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon. Aldrin also offers a guided video tour of the moon from within Google Earth.

The artifacts tab allows people to see three-dimensional models of the spacecraft that have gone to the moon.

The Moon in Google Earth project was done through Google's partnerships with NASA, which allowed researchers to develop much of the content. Japan's space agency, Jaxa, also donated the global terrain dataset for the moon.

Updated at 8:45 a.m. PDT with more details.

 

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