Google Maps is both amazing and a little terrifying at times. Starting from your own front porch, close enough to read the numbers on the letterbox, you can then zoom right out to see your neighborhood, then the suburb, city, state, country, and eventually the entire planet with a quick scroll of a mouse wheel. Not content to just map out almost every corner of the Earth, Google has now added the ability to explore 12 other worlds in our little corner of the galaxy.
Google Maps has already allowed us to explore the Moon, Mars, and the Universe for a few years, but now the list has been extended to a range of other planets and moons in our Solar System. That includes the planets Mercury and Venus; dwarf planets Ceres and Pluto; Jupiter's moons Io, Europa and Ganymede; and Saturn's moons Mimas, Enceladus, Dione, Rhea, Titan and Iapetus. Along with those worlds, curious Earthlings can now take a tour of the International Space Station as well.
The Google team scoured images gathered and sent back by missions from NASA, ESA and other agencies, and stitched them together to create high-resolution mosaics of those bodies. In some areas, the maps show a general overview of the surface, but where closer images were available, you can zoom right down and inspect specific mountains, valleys and other geological features.
If you're so inclined, it would be easy to lose hours exploring otherworldly landmarks. We've already gazed at Gale Crater, the landing site of the Curiosity rover on Mars, marvelled at the murky methane oceans of Titan, and spotted all the recently-named features around Pluto's giant heart-shaped plain.
The new worlds are explorable on Google Maps right now.
Source: Google Maps