You are here

SAN FRANCISCO--The newly rebuilt California Academy of Sciences, now spruced up with a giant Google Maps locator pushpin, hosted the launch of Google Earth 5 Monday. The standout feature for the new mapping and geographic exploration software is the addition of information for the planet's oceans, which previously was a blank blue.

Updated:
Photo by: Stephen Shankland/CNET News / Caption by:

Google Earth Gauntlet

The corridors leading to the launch event were lined with dozens of Google Earth staff members.

Updated:
Photo by: Stephen Shankland/CNET News / Caption by:

Ocean Depth

The 3D display of Google Earth 5.0 now shows features of the ocean floor.

Updated:
Photo by: Stephen Shankland/CNET News / Caption by:

Google Access

Chief Executive Eric Schmidt and former Vice President Al Gore were seated side by side in the front row of the event. He called Gore a hero for his early alerts about global warming, prompting Gore to quip that his phone's hype alarm had gone off.

Updated:
Photo by: Stephen Shankland/CNET News / Caption by:

Eric Schmidt Speaks

"When you think about Google Earth, you're missing the majority of the earth, which is the oceans," Google CEO Eric Schmidt said.

Updated:
Photo by: Stephen Shankland/CNET News / Caption by:

Google Earth and Maps director

John Hanke, director of Google Maps and Google Earth, described how the software has become a tool for Brazilian tribesman to monitor illegal logging in the rain forest. He also touted a new feature, the ability to view areas of Earth through the software from earlier years by delving back into Google's archive.

Updated:
Photo by: Stephen Shankland/CNET News / Caption by:

Al Gore Speaks

Gore said Google Earth provides a natural interface for exploring the world. The desktop-with-files metaphor of computer operating systems doesn't work that well, but "Google Earth uses the earth itself as a metaphor," Gore said.

Updated:
Photo by: Stephen Shankland/CNET News / Caption by:

Vanishing glaciers

Gore said it was hard for him to assemble before-and-after photos of melting glaciers for the climate change talk that ultimately won him both and Oscar and Nobel Peace Prize. Now, using Google Earth's history-browsing feature, anyone can see the glaciers vanishing.

Updated:
Photo by: Stephen Shankland/CNET News / Caption by:

The woman who spurred Google into action

Oceanographer Sylvia Earle, explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society and the founder of the Deep Search Foundation, helped make Google Earth's ocean view a reality. Three years ago, she quipped to Hanke that Google should call the software Google Dirt for its lack of ocean data.

Updated:
Photo by: Stephen Shankland/CNET News / Caption by:

Taking the plunge

Oceanographer Sylvia Earle showed how Google Earth's viewpoint now can give the virtual explorer a dolphin's-eye underwater view of the ocean.

Updated:
Photo by: Shankland/CNET News / Caption by:

Google's Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer, vice president of search and user experience, oversees Google's geographic projects, among others. She lauded Google's culture of fostering individual innovation; Google Maps Street View, which began at Stanford University, was Google's fastest-growing property in 2008, she said.

Updated:
Photo by: Stephen Shankland/CNET News / Caption by:

Jimmy Buffett takes the stage

With "Margaritaville" playing in the background, singer Jimmy Buffett previewed locations of a coming Hawaii tour using Google Earth, then performed "Son of a Son of a Sailor."

Updated:
Photo by: Stephen Shankland/CNET News / Caption by:

Virtual Mars

Noel Gorelick, formerly a NASA contractor and now leader of Google Earth's Mars project, shows the Red Planet in the midst of a deep blue demonstration room.

Updated:
Photo by: Shankland/CNET News / Caption by:

Show and tell

Researchers from many organizations mingled with Googlers showing off Google Earth 5.0. Many expressed excitement to have a publicly accessible platform on which to present research findings and build educational tools.

To see screenshots of the new software, click here.

Updated:
Photo by: Stephen Shankland/CNET News / Caption by:
Hot Galleries

CNET Magazine

The summer issue is here!

In the latest edition of our quarterly magazine, we look at how you can spend your summer getting fit and having fun. Pick up a copy on newsstands today or order it now.

Hot Products