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Hands-on: Google Earth 5 explores seabeds, historic imagery

Google Earth 5 was released this week, complete with 3D mapping of the Earth's sea bed. We've been taking it for a spin and have a full pictures-'n'-all tour for you

Nate Lanxon

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Google has unveiled Google Earth 5.0, which not only lets users view satellite imagery of the Earth from years gone by, but also explore beneath the surface of the world's oceans.

Although it's thought only 5 per cent of the planet's sea beds have been mapped in detail, new layers of information allow users to locate points of interest such as shipwrecks, and view related information and videos from the likes of National Geographic within Google Earth itself.

In our tests over the last few hours we noticed available seabed images were, if you'll excuse the pun, a drop in the ocean -- most of our deep-sea diving adventures didn't result in us exploring three-dimensional bathymetry. But when you finally do stumble across submerged mountains, it's a hell of an experience.

Back on land, and the ability to zoom back in time to view buildings and landmarks that no longer exist was more fun than dogs wearing party hats -- Wembley Stadium being a particular favourite, considering it was demolished and rebuilt within the last few years. Sites such as the World Trade Center in Manhattan offer a more sobering view of how our world has changed since the advent of satellite imagery.

This new version is without question the best yet, and perhaps one of Google's finest products. As the year progresses we'd love to see even richer underwater content, but this first step towards mapping parts of the Earth so few people ever get to see is a giant leap for the software. Don't forget to check out Mars in 3D now, and record your own Earth tour using the new video-recording function.

Check out some of our favourite sights so far over the next few pages, then head over to Google to download the application completely free of charge.

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Deep sea bathymetry is now available in 3D, letting you explore the ocean floor in detail.
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Look! A shipwreck! And look! Boat-loads of information about each and every one!
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Wembley Stadium back in 1999...
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...and Wembley Stadium in 2007.
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In fact, satellite and aerial imagery is available from so many points in history, you can even witness some buildings being constructed. Here's Wembley Stadium half way through the building process.

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