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Google lights up Moon on Apollo 11 anniversary

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Google has switched on the Moon in Google Earth to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing.

The newly included Moonscape for Google Earth features 3D terrain of the lunar surface for users to fly around and explore like they already can with Mars and Earth.

Users can also switch the scenery into planning charts used by NASA for Apollo missions, links to landing sites, a guide to artifacts left behind, and panoramic "street view" imagery taken by astronauts.

Google unveiled the new addition to its Google Earth 5.0 software on Monday during a special presentation at the Newseum at Washington DC.

"Forty years ago, two human beings walked on the Moon. Starting today, with Moon in Google Earth, it's now possible for anyone to follow in their footsteps," Google product manager Michael Weiss-Malik said.

Those who prefer a more structure lunar excursion can also take a guided tour by original moonwalker Buzz Aldrin and A Man on the Moon author Andrew Chaikin. There's also a narrated fly-through from Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt, the only geologist to have walked on the Moon.

Here's a video blog post showing off Moon in Google Earth:

It's worth noting that Google Moon has shown flat imagery online similar to Google Maps since 2005, but it's clearly more fun and immerse to zoom around in three dimensions. ®

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