Google Mars, anyone?

The NASA Ames Research Center and Google have signed an agreement that will soon take Google Earth to the moon and Mars.

Google Earth lets anyone a computer, Web browser and Internet connection pan to anywhere on Earth and, through the use of high-resolution satellite photographs, zoom in on most locations on the planet. The Space Act Agreement signed by Ames and Google officials will allow people to virtually fly over the surfaces of the moon and Mars.

The pact could lead to real-time weather visualization and forecasting and real-time tracking of the International Space Station and space shuttles.

NASA and Google intend to collaborate on putting agency datasets into Google Earth, focusing on user studies and modeling for human/computer interaction. They will also work together to develop science data search functions that will use a variety of Google features and products.
 
“Partnering with NASA made perfect sense for Google, as it has a wealth of technical expertise and data that will be of great use to Google as we tackle many computing issues on behalf of our users,” said Eric Schmidt, chief executive officer of Google.

Google began a direct assault on the government market earlier this year with the launch of Google U.S. Government Search, an interagency search tool that competes with the government’s FirstGov.

Pete Worden, director of the Ames Research Center, said the deal with Google is an example of the kind of partnerships that he wants the center to establish with the private sector to “encourage innovation, while advancing the vision for space exploration and commercial interests.”

Although NASA has collected a wealth of information about the Earth and other planets, it has not found an easy way to aggregate the data and make it accessible to nonexperts, said Chris Kemp, the center’s director of strategic business development.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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