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NASA pimps Google Mars

Historical maps, 'live' image feeds added

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Users of the Martian part of Google Earth will be delighted to hear that it has received enhancements. The new virtual-Mars features include historical maps of the red planet, and up-to-date imagery from spacecraft in orbit above it.

The latest updates were put together in cooperation with NASA's Ames research centre. The space agency is providing "live from Mars" imagery from the THEMIS thermal-imaging camera aboard the Odyssey spacecraft, and from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Historical material includes maps of the planet by old-time astronomers such as Schiaparelli and Lowell. Google has also added in narrated guided tours of Mars to pull all the features together. There are also improved search features to help users locate famed Martian beauty spots such as the Valles Marineris, Olympus Mons etc.

To get access to all the free Mars goodness, simply download or update Google Earth to version 5.0, click on the planet icon in the toolbar section at the top (it actually looks more like Saturn, or some ringed planet anyway) and select "Mars". ®

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