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The Planetary Content Team


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 as well as 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.

The software toolkit, currently under development, builds on open-source software such as the NASA Vision Workbench, open standards such as the Open Gospatial Consortium's Web Map Service (WMS), and freely-available visualization tools such as Google Earth. To demonstrate and refine its toolkit, the Planetary Content Team also develops sample planetary content in collaboration with scientists and researchers.

Mars in Google Earth


You can now explore Mars in stunning interactive 3D using the new Mars feature of Google Earth! The Mars mode includes global 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.

You can learn more about this project from our Mars in Google Earth info page.

Moon in Google Earth

Just like Mars mode above, there is also a Moon mode in Google Earth. The Moon mode includes global terrain and maps, featured satellite images, detailed maps of the Apollo surface missions, geologic charts, and more!

You can learn more about this project from our Moon project page.

NASA Extensions to the Google Maps API


We have released extensions to the Google Maps API to make this web mapping frameworks more powerful and easy to use for Earth and planetary scientists.

The extensions that we have released provide support for north- and south-polar stereographic projections, allowing web maps of the Lunar and Martian poles, and also provide a new and improved general-purpose global Mars base map.

You can learn more about this project from our NASA Maps Extensions info page.

Lunar and Planetary KML Overlays


The KML file format has emerged as the de facto standard for sharing geospatial data for display and visualization. We have released key Lunar and Planetary datasets in KML form, so you can easily browse them using Google Earth or another KML-compliant geobrowser.

You can learn more about this project from our Lunar and Planetary KML info page.

NASA Updates to Google Moon


The Planetary Content Team develops mapping and educational tools for worlds beyond planet Earth.
The first of these to be publicly released is a set of updates to Google Moon, including:

You can learn more about this project at our Google Moon info page.

The NASA Gallery in Google Earth


The Planetary Content Team also manages the NASA Gallery layer in Google Earth (formerly known as NASA Featured Content). The first release includes:

  • Astronaut Photography of Earth, a collection of photographs taken by astronauts on board the shuttle or International Space Station, courtesy of the Image Science and Analysis Laboratory.
  • Satellite Imagery of Earth, a showcasing a range of Earth phenomena as observed by satellites in NASA's Earth observing fleet, courtesy of the NASA Earth Observatory.
  • Earth's City Lights, showing light pollution across the globe, combining data from the Defense Meterological Satellite Program's OLC imager with NASA's Blue Marble: Next Generation.
The team also produces some additional Google Earth Imagery using NASA data.

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