Explore The Solar System With Google Maps

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Raise your hand if you ever dreamed of being an astronaut when you were small. Well, I did. I thought it would be pretty cool to travel to distant worlds and explore them and perhaps encounter new life forms. Well, now Google wants to help with that. To be more specific, Google Maps wants to help you explore our Solar System.

Explore Space, from the comfort of your home

Google Maps has introduced a brand new feature that would allow you explore planets and moons in our solar system. The team over at Google Maps have added over 500,000 images that have been captured by spacecraft such as the Cassini Probe.

Google Maps Cassini
The Cassini Spacecraft
Image Credits: NASA

In case you were wondering, the Cassini probe was launched 20 years ago with the goal of sending the spacecraft to Saturn. 20 years later, on the 15th of September 2017, Cassini broke apart in Saturn’s upper atmosphere. The images collected from this spacecraft are what allowed scientists to reconstruct these planets with an extremely high level of detail.

Get Google Maps to show the Solar System

Simply zoom out of planet Earth when you’re using Google Maps on your computer and you will see a list of planets and moons you can visit. You will have to switch your map to satellite mode in order to use this feature though. Once you have zoomed out, the solar system is yours to explore. It’s not only planets and the moons though. You can even hop aboard the ISS (International Space Station) and sit inside and see the grand scale of things, as it were. There are a number of clickable interactive points that offer information related to the various components of the ISS which I thought is really cool.

Google Maps
Inside the International Space Station, courtesy of Google

Moving on to planets and moons, you can zoom into Enceladus, which is Saturn’s 6th largest moon and visit planets such as Pluto, Venus and a number of other moons as well. In their blog, Google also thanked artist Björn Jónsson who was responsible for stitching together the maps of Europa, Ganymede, Rhea, and Mimas, using imaged from both NASA and the European space agency.

Houston, we have a problem

It wasn’t exactly a smooth launch though. Just a few hours into the announcement, Emily Lakdawalla, a planetary scientist tweeted that maps including Enceladus and Europa had their names and respective images off by 180 degrees.

Google MapsGoogle has yet to comment on this and if you’re a budding planetary scientist, you too can take a look for yourself through Google Maps and check out if everything is as it should be. What are your thoughts on this new feature for Google Maps? Leave a comment below.

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