October 12th, 2009 | Published in Google Student Blog
[From time to time we invite guests to blog about initiatives of interest, and are very pleased to have Stephen Savage join us here again. Stephen is Arizona State University's Geo-Archaeological Information Applications Lab IT Manager of the Archaeological Research Institute at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change. You might remember his previous posts about Exploring exploplanets using Google Earth's API or his work on the Digital Archaeological Atlas of the Holy Land.]
For years, astronauts and rocket scientists at NASA and JPL have had all the fun. Billions of people on Earth have seen pictures of Apollo 17 astronauts Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmidt driving their "dune buggy" on the Moon. Billions more have seen pictures of NASA's Mars landers, Spirit and Opportunity. We've all wished we could be the ones to take these incredible toys out for a spin on the Red Planet or the Moon.
Now, thanks to Google, you can do the next best thing -- you can drive a virtual rover model on Google's Mars or Moon (or a skateboard on Earth), and experience the real topography of these places. We at ASU developed a "Drive the Solar System" website where you can explore how the power of Google Mars, Google Moon and Google Earth has been brought to the web. You can put your rover or skateboard down anyplace on Mars, the Moon or Earth and drive it anywhere you want to go. Explore the Apollo landing sites or Olympus Mons, the largest volcanic cone in the solar system. Drive down the Valles Marinaris, the canyon on Mars that dwarfs Arizona's Grand Canyon, or kick-flip your skateboard down the Amazon. And that's not all. You can visit all the other planets and the largest moons in the Solar System too.
But you can do more than drive or look at these strange new worlds -- you can also look at these places in depth with detailed information about each place you can visit included.
So if you've ever wanted to be an astronaut, visit http://gaialab.asu.edu/
SolarSystem and see what you've been missing!