(SPACE.COM) NASA and Google, Inc., have teamed up to build the ultimate atlas for Mars fans eager to explore the red planet in three-dimensional detail while keeping their feet firmly on Earth.
Google Mars 3D, a new mode included in Google's latest version of Google Earth software, allows users to tap into high-resolution and three-dimensional views of Martian terrain from the comfort of their own personal computer.
The mode, which relies on NASA data and imagery from the agency's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and other spacecraft, is designed so users can "fly" through Martian canyons in a virtual mode and see the red planet's surface through the camera eyes of those long-lived NASA rovers Spirit and Opportunity, as well as other Mars missions.
"They can fly to the top of Olympus Mons, the tallest volcano in our solar system, read geo-located excerpts about different locations on the planet from 'A Traveler's Guide to Mars,' observe where various Mars rovers and landers have touched down and much more," Google officials said in an announcement.
The new Mars mode also includes a sharing feature so users can add their own 3D content to the Mars map for all to see.
NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., collaborated with Google to build the new Google Mars 3D mode. In addition to NASA data, the software includes data produced by researchers at the Carnegie Mellon University, SETI Institute and other organizations.
- New Video - Spirit on Mars: NASA's Little Rover That Could
- Video - Five Years on Mars for NASA Rovers
- The 10 Best Mars Images Ever
- Original Story: NASA, Google Unveil Mars in 3D