Forty years after man first set foot on the Moon, Google is opening up the lunar surface using Google Earth.
The plug-in works with Google earth Version 5.0, and is the product of Google's own mapping technology and Nasa's lunar surveying team. It was unveiled today at Washington DC's Newseum in a special ceremony.
"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, " said product manager Michael Weiss-Malik.
"We're giving hundreds of millions of people around the world unprecedented access to an interactive 3D presentation of the Apollo missions."
The plug-in has details of all man-made objects on the moon, videos of astronauts exploring the surface, and 3D animations of key areas such as the Apollo 11 landing site. However, most of the images are taken from orbit, and very little can be seen of the objects because they are so small.
"This tool will make it easier for millions of people to learn about space, our moon and some of the most significant and dazzling discoveries humanity has accomplished," said Anousheh Ansari, trustee of the X Prize Foundation, and the first female private space explorer, in a blog post.
"Moon in Google Earth enables you to explore lunar imagery as well as informational content about the Apollo landing sites, panoramic images shot by the Apollo astronauts, narrated tours and much more.
"I believe that this educational tool is a critical step into the future, a way to develop the dreams of young people globally and inspire new audacious goals."
The 40th anniversary has also prompted other companies to try and cash in on the anniversary. An apparently real company issued a press release offering to etch adverts on the Moons surface using remote controlled robots.
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