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NASA, Google launch virtual Mars exploration

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Viking Lander on the surface of Mars. Credit: NASA/Google Earth.

CALIFORNIA (BNS): NASA and Google have collaborated to give a visual feast at everyone’s desktop. On Monday, they announced the release of a new Mars mode in Google Earth that brings the high-resolution three-dimensional view of the Red Planet to individual computers.

This is the latest benefit from a Space Act Agreement NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, signed with Google in November 2006. Under its terms, NASA and Google agreed to collaborate to make NASA's data sets available to the world.

NASA said that besides providing a rich, immersive 3D view of Mars that will aid public understanding of Mars science, the new mode, Google Mars 3D, also gives researchers a platform for sharing data similar to what Google Earth provides for Earth scientists.

“The mode enables users to fly virtually through enormous canyons and scale huge mountains on Mars that are much larger than any found on Earth. Users also can explore the Red Planet through the eyes of the Mars rovers and other Mars missions, providing a unique perspective of the entire planet,” NASA said.

According to the space agency, users can see some of the latest satellite imagery from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and other probes orbiting the Red Planet.

“Viewers can learn about new discoveries and explore indexes of available Mars imagery. The new Mars mode also allows users to add their own 3D content to the Mars map to share with the world,” NASA said.

The space agency said that apart from itself, Google, Carnegie Mellon University, SETI, and other institutions, helped produce the data.

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