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Google Earth googles us again, this time in goggles!

Google has introduced a new version of Google Earth (v.5.0) that includes oceanic 3D underwater terrain as well as historical imagery.

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 “We know far more about the surface of Mars from a few weeks of radar surveying in orbit than we know of the bottom of the ocean after two centuries,” said Miller of Scripps Oceanography. “We hope that one of the outcomes of Google Ocean will be an understanding of how much remains to be explored.”  

Google Ocean

How it started was a matter of discovery. Google Earth has already covered what is here on the ground and Google Sky, what’s above. It is seems very natural that Google wants to now cover the sea.

By last December Google had already assembled an advisory group of oceanography experts and invited top researchers from institutions around the world to help with the project at the Mountain View, California, Googleplex. 

The program is expected to be similar to other 3D online mapping applications. People will be able to see underwater topography, also know as bathymetry, as well as see particular spots of attractions such shipwrecks on the ocean floor. Navigating will be the same as Google Earth, you can zoom through the digital environment panning on particular spots of interest. On top of that there are videos and stills from content partners such as National Geographic that show a multimedia point of view of all of the exploration of particular locations. The videos already available are said to be from the archives of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, regarded by wikipedia as a renaissance man, for he was a French naval officer, explorer, ecologist, filmmaker, innovator, scientist, photographer, author, and researcher of all sea life.

Timelined Earth Imagery

But that is not all. Google has also announced that apart from the oceans, in version 5.0 we have historical imagery. Until this release Google Earth has only been able to display one image of a given place at a given time. Now there is a time slider, that allows it to be possible to see newer and older satellite imagery from around the globe. 

“Try flying south of San Francisco in Google Earth and turning on the new time slider (click the “clock” icon in the toolbar) to witness the transformation of Silicon Valley from a farming community to the tech capital of the world over the past 50 years or so.” Posted John Hanke, Director of Google Earth and Maps. 

On top of that there is a “Touring” feature, which enables people to show others a guided map of their stories. The feature makes it easy to create sharable, narrated, fly-through tours just by clicking a record button. This theme of sharing stories through place is similar to the “places I’ve been feature” in the new iLife 09’s iPhoto. In partnership with Apple, Google Earth has enabled many ways of telling stories tied with location, on the Mac. 

Lastly but not at all least in impact is a new feature called 3D Mars. Google has collaborated with NASA and made it possible through the selection of a button from the toolbar in Google Earth 5, that allows access into a 3D map of Mars in the latest high-resolution imagery, 3D terrain, and annotations showing landing sites and lots of other interesting features. 

This software will not only be helpful to oceanography research but to the 8th grader doing a project on how cities change. What Google is doing is attempting to fulfill an idea that the very world, its history and secrets, can be shared for the benefit of everyone. It may take years until Google Earth succeeds just that, but until then it will stir the imagination of many everyday folk like us.

To download Google Earth 5.0 go here: http://earth.google.com/

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