The most visible success of the Planetary Content project in 2008 was the development of the content for Google Mars 3D, which was released to the world on February 2, 2009 as part of Google Earth 5. Mars 3D includes global-scale and some local-scale 3D terrain; featured satellite images, including captions describing the science behind the breathtaking scenes; detailed maps of the Mars rover traverses, including StreetView-like panoramas; complete browsable indexes of all satellite images taken by the five major orbital cameras; and much more. Besides providing a rich, immersive 3D view of Mars that will aid public understanding of Mars science, Google Mars 3D gives researchers a platform for sharing data similar to what Google Earth provides for Earth scientists. The new Mars mode also allows users to add their own 3D content to the Mars map to share with the world.
Behind-the-scenes preparation by the Planetary Content team for the release of Google Mars 3D involved scaling up satellite image processing pipelines to terapixel scale, scaling up KML generation pipelines to support hundreds of thousands of placemarks, and sorting out the many details of transferring large quantities of processed planetary data from NASA to Google. For more information, see the Google Mars 3D page of the Planetary Content Project web site.
BACKGROUND: The Planetary Content Team at NASA’s Ames Research Center develops software that makes it easier for scientists and engineers to publish and access Earth and planetary imagery and data via the Internet. This includes both educational/outreach content aimed at the general public and technical data aimed at the scientific community. Headquartered in the Intelligent Systems Division at Ames, the team also includes partners in other areas of the agency and elsewhere.
Under the terms of a Space Act Agreement signed in November 2006, NASA and Google agreed to collaborate to make NASA’s data sets available to the world. Six NASA datasets have been specially reprocessed for use with the freely available Google Earth planetary browser software. The maps, imagery, and stories of the Apollo missions available on Google Moon were developed through a collaboration between Google and the Planetary Content Team.
NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: PDS Headquarters, Science Mission Directorate
Contact: Matt Hancher