Nasa shares maps with Google

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Nasa shares maps with Google

Deal will offer virtual tours of Mars.

Deal will offer virtual tours of Mars.

Nasa's Ames Research Center has signed a 'Space Act Agreement' with Google that will see some of the agency's space exploration photography made available to the public for the first time.

Certain Nasa data will added to Google Earth, and the search giant will also offer high-resolution 3D maps of the moon and Mars, real-time tracking of the International Space Station and the movements of the Space Shuttle.

"This agreement between Nasa and Google will soon allow every American to experience a virtual flight over the surface of the moon or through the canyons of Mars," said Nasa administrator Michael Griffin.

"This innovative combination of information technology and space science will make Nasa's space exploration work accessible to everyone."

Future plans for collaboration include adding real-time weather mapping to Google Earth as well as joint research, products, facilities, education and missions.

"Nasa has collected and processed more information about our planet and universe than any other entity in the history of humanity," said Chris C. Kemp, director of strategic business development at Ames Research Center.

"Even though this information was collected for the benefit of everyone, and much is in the public domain, the vast majority is scattered and difficult for non-experts to access and understand."

No details of any financial deal have been announced, but Google is already building a million square foot campus within the Nasa research centre in Silicon Valley.

"Partnering with Nasa made perfect sense for Google, as Nasa has a wealth of technical expertise and data that will be of great use to Google as we look to tackle many computing issues on behalf of our users," said Google chief executive Eric Schmidt.

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