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Tag: mars

Secret Mars Base found in Google Maps

by Timothy Whitehead on May.19, 2017, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

Thank you to GEB reader James for sending us this amazing find. If you go to this location in Google Maps / Mars, you will find an image of a secret Mars Base:

After doing some research, we discovered that it is actually a Google Data Centre being built in anticipation of future Mars settlement.

So is it real? Well given that Google posted about it on March 31st, just before April Fool’s day, we think not.

We have previously looked at how to get HiRISE imagery into Google Mars. So we decided to try and find out which image Google used. We are fairly sure it is a section of HiRISE image ESP_037117_1755 captured on 27 June 2014. Unfortunately, Google has only included the colour portion of the image in Google Maps and Curiosity is just off the edge. However, if you know where to look, you can see Curiosity’s tracks going across the image.


Curiosity’s tracks, as seen in Google Maps / Mars


Curiosity as seen in the original image (not included in Google Maps).

If you want to explore the imagery more in Google Mars, download this KML file. We have included a screen shot from Google Maps of the Secret Mars Base, a low resolution version of the original HiRISE image, and a higher resolution version of the relevant area.
We have also marked the location of Curiosity at the time, and if you turn on the Google Mars layer: Mars Gallery->Rovers and Landers->MSL Curiosity Rover (USA)->Traverse Path, then it will help you trace the rover’s tracks in the higher resolution image. We have done our best to line up the imagery with the track. Turn off Mars Gallery->Rovers and Landers->MSL Curiosity Rover (USA)->Gale crater landing site as it adds imagery which will obscure the images in the KML file.

For a number of other posts where we managed to track down almost all the residents of Mars see here.

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Residents of Mars part 2

by Timothy Whitehead on Nov.01, 2016, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

This is part 2 of our list of Mars residents that we started last week. Since last week’s post some new imagery of the Schiaparelli landing site has been released. However, it is not yet available on the HiRISE download site. There is a marker showing that an image was captured of the location with the HiRISE camera, but as of this writing, there is a message saying that the image is currently unavailable.

Mars Pathfinder lander and Sojourner rover
Mars Pathfinder’s rover Sojourner was the first rover on Mars. However, it was relatively small at 65 cm long, 48 cm wide, 30 cm tall and weighing 10.5 kg. It can be seen near the lander in Google Mars imagery:


Yes, that’s as far as it got, in 83 sols (Martian days).


Parachute and backshell.

Viking 1 lander
The Viking 1 lander and its backshell are visible in Google Mars imagery, but we were unable to find its parachute.


Viking 1 lander


Viking 1 backshell

Viking 2 lander
The Viking 2 lander is just visible in Google Mars imagery, but we were able to find a better one which also shows the locations of the backshell and heat shield.


Top left: Backshell. Top right: Heat shield. Bottom: Viking 2 lander.

Mars 3 lander (USSR)
Google Mars does not have high resolution imagery of the Mars 3 lander, but we were able to find a HiRISE image of the parachute.


Mars 3 parachute.

Mars 6 lander (USSR)
There are several images of what is believed to be the Mars 6 lander’s crash site, but as far as we can tell, none of the lander’s components have been identified.

No imagery
It appears no high resolution imagery has been captured for the locations of:
* Mars Polar Lander
* Mars 2 lander (USSR)

To see all the locations above, including some imagery overlays and last week’s locations, download this KML file.

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Schiaparelli’s resting place and other Mars residents

by Timothy Whitehead on Oct.27, 2016, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

Last week a joint mission between the European Space Agency (ESA) and Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) attempted to land on Mars. The landing was not successful and the lander, named Schiaparelli, crash landed on the planet.

NASA released these ‘before and after’ photos of the landing site captured by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) showing what is believed to be the parachute (white spot) and landing spot (dark patch).

We thought this would be a good time to see what other Mars landers / rovers can be seen in Google Mars or MRO imagery.

Curiosity

The rover Curiosity has particularly good coverage. We already managed to find it in an image from March 30th, 2016, which we showed you last week in this post. However, there is also good imagery of its landing area, including an image of it while still descending by parachute!


Top Left: Sky Crane. Top Right: Parachute on ground. Bottom Left: Rover on ground, 24 hours after landing. Bottom Right: Descent by parachute.

Also see here for a time-lapse of the parachute blowing about in the wind.

Opportunity

The rover Opportunity is not far from Schiaparelli’s crash site, but far enough that it probably could not get there to investigate.


In this image from August 26th, 2016, Opportunity just looks like a rock.

The location above was identified with the help of this thread which keeps track of Opportunity.


Top Left: Parachute. Top Right: Landing base. Bottom Left: Heat shield. Bottom Right: Track and multiple images of rover.

Spirit
The rover Spirit is no longer active, but we can see it in its final resting place as well as its parachute, lander and heat shield.


Top Left: Parachute. Top Right: Landing base. Bottom Left: Heat shield. Bottom Right: Final resting place.

Phoenix
The Pheonix Lander has good imagery in Google Mars showing the heat shield, the back shell, the parachute and the lander.


Top Left: Lander, Top Right: Heat Shield, Bottom right: back shell and parachute.

Beagle 2
The very best image of the Beagle 2 is these two white dots:

Also seen here in colour. Its parachute and rear cover are equally difficult to make out, but we have marked their locations in the KML file.

The above are just some of the residents of Mars. We will continue with the rest next week.

See the imagery and placemarks in Google Mars with this KML file.

Don’t forget to turn on Google Mars’s ‘Landers/Rovers’ layer for extra imagery, tracks, panoramas, 3D models and more.

To be continued …..

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Finding Curiosity with Mars HiRISE imagery in Google Earth

by Timothy Whitehead on Oct.21, 2016, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

Yesterday we had a look at the track of the Curiosity rover in Google Earth. We noticed that there is some very high resolution imagery of the area. We have previously experimented with getting Mars imagery into Google Earth but did not find any imagery with such high resolution. So we decided to have another look.

It appears that there are multiple orbiters each with multiple imaging systems and each camera is managed by a different organisation. The imagery we looked at previously is from the THEMIS instrument on the orbiter Mars Global Surveyor. It appears that the highest resolution imagery comes form the HiRISE instrument on the same orbiter. We found that it is possible to access the imagery at this website which also allows access to imagery from three other instruments, CTX, MOC and CRISM.

We looked for an image in the location of Curiosity and chose this one. The image is compressed using jp2, similar to Sentinel imagery. We used a tool called Irfanview to convert it to jpg. Since it is quite a large image, we chose to crop it to the location we are interested in. We then placed the image in Google Earth using an image overlay and matched it to the imagery already available.

The image was captured on March 30th, 2016. So, we used Fernando Nogal’s KML track for curiosity that we looked at yesterday to determine where Curiosity was on that date. And sure enough, we can actually see Curiosity!


Curiosity as seen in HiRISE imagery.

This suggests that it may be possible to identify the final resting place of the Schiaparelli lander, which is currently believed to have crash landed, once imagery of its expected landing zone becomes available.

To see the image in Google Earth download this KML file.

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The Curiosity rover track

by Timothy Whitehead on Oct.20, 2016, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

With the recent attempted landing on Mars we thought it might be a good time to discuss another Mars inhabitant, NASA’s Curiosity rover.

GEB reader Fernando Nogal let us know about a KML file he maintains which tracks the path of Curiosity on Mars. It can be found in this thread on unmannedspaceflight.com.

Google Mars has a built-in layer showing the locations of various landers and rovers on Mars, including Curiosity and its track. However, the track displayed for Curiosity does not match up with Fernando’s version. A look at the terrain in the imagery shows that Fernando’s version is the more accurate one, as you can clearly see that Curiosity followed certain terrain features to avoid driving over obstacles. This is with the “Rovers and Landers” layer turned on, which includes some HiRISE/CTX imagery. With it turned off, the default Google Mars imagery appears to be out of alignment with both tracks.

We have not been able to identify the source of the Google Mars track, but while trying to find out more about it, we discovered this map which shows yet another version of the track, which is ever further out of alignment.

So what is going on? Our guess is that this is because Mars does not have a GPS system in place and the less accurate tracks are being determined by dead reckoning using Curiosity’s data about the directions and distances it drives whereas Fernando’s track is based on identifying features in the imagery the rover sends back.

If any of our readers knows more about this or where the Google Mars track is sourced from, please let us know in the comments.

Regarding yesterday’s landing attempt, as of this writing it appears that the orbiter managed a successful orbit insertion but the lander’s status is uncertain.

We also came across this interesting article about historical maps of Mars and how our knowledge of the red planet has improved over time. A number of the historical maps can be found in the layer “Mars Gallery->Historic Maps”. It is interesting that older maps had South at the top. Google Earth has a similar layer called “Rumsey Historical Maps” found in the “Gallery” layer that features historical maps of Earth.

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Europe and Russia attempting Mars landing

by Timothy Whitehead on Oct.19, 2016, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

A joint mission between the European Space Agency (ESA) and Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) is expected to land a probe on Mars today October 19th, 2016. If successful, it will be the first successful landing on Mars that was not by NASA. Many attempts have been made by various countries and there have been a number of successful orbiters and flybys. For a full list of Mars missions see this Wikipedia page.

The mission named ExoMars includes an orbiter, the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and a lander named Schiaparelli. Read more about it here.

You can watch the event live here. See here for more details on the broadcast schedule.

We used the details in this video to identify the landing area in Google Earth. You can use this KML file to view it in Google Earth. This is hand drawn based on the video and is not an official outline.


Schiaparelli’s landing zone as seen in Google Earth.

The landing zone includes the current location of NASA’s Opportunity rover.

[ Update: Also see this KML file with more detailed landing ellipses kindly provided by GEB reader Fernando Nogal. See this thread for more details. ]

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Street View portals to Mars, the Moon and Atlantis

by Timothy Whitehead on Mar.02, 2016, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

Recently, we had a look at recent additions to Street View. We also included a map of changes over the past month. There were two spots in the ‘changes’ map that we found particularly interesting.

The first is in the Atlantic Ocean and upon closer inspection is very close to an underwater mountain named ‘Atlantis Seamount’. We were able to see the blue Street View indicator in Google Earth but were unable to enter Street View at that location.

However, in Google Maps you can enter the Street View, but you get instantly teleported to Santes Creus Monastery in Catalonia, Spain.


Santes Creus Monastery, Catalonia, Spain. See in Street View

The second location is in Angola. This time we were able to see it in both Google Maps and Google Earth and it turns out to be a portal to the Moon!


Portal to the moon found in Angola.


If you enter Street View at coordinates -9.097507,15.484863 in Angola, you will see Lunar Street View imagery. See in Google Maps.

We had heard about both Lunar and Martian Street View imagery before. Thank you to GEB reader ‘poli’ for giving us a link to a Martian image in the comments of this post. We had previously not managed to find a way to view it from within Google Earth. After we knew what to look for, we tracked down the Martian portal in the province of Papua, Indonesia.


The portal to Mars can be found at coordinates -4.5895946,137.4492225.


Street View imagery on Mars captured by the rover Curiosity. See in Google Maps

Not far north of the Atlantis portal, in the Atlantic Ocean at coordinates 40.571082, -29.539372, there is another Street View portal that takes you to underwater Street View of the Galapagos Islands.

To view the Mars and Moon locations in Google Earth download this KML file

You cannot view Street View in the ‘Mars’ or ‘Moon’ modes of Google Earth or Google Maps because the ‘yellow man’ is not shown.

As we have mentioned in the past the blue Street View layers tend to show different locations at different zoom levels and the blue markings for the above locations can only be seen when zoomed out quite a long way and not at all in Google Earth for the ‘Mars portal’.

In order to see the blue Street View outlines when zoomed out, first zoom in until you see the yellow man, hold him above the map and then zoom out with the ‘-‘ key on the keyboard. You can also move around with the arrow keys.

If anyone knows of any Street View on Mars or the Moon other than the two photospheres featured above, or if you know of any other portals where entering Street View in one location takes you somewhere totally different, please let us know in the comments.

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Oceans on Mars

by Timothy Whitehead on Apr.27, 2015, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

We were recently reading this story from NASA that says Mars used to have large oceans. It includes a tantalizing picture reminiscent of Google Earth. So we decided to see if we could simulate oceans in Google Mars.

We have looked at a number of stories in the past where people have used KML to simulate sea level rise:

However, it turns out this technique doesn’t work over large areas. KML polygons set to fixed altitude do not curve with the earth’s surface.

So, instead, we found a digital elevation model (DEM) map of Mars provided by NASA that can be obtained from here. We then used an image editing program to colour the lower elevations blue and make higher elevations transparent. We then took the resulting image and made an image overlay and you can see the result below:

Mars Ocean

For an even more realistic effect, we combined our ocean with this Mars map also from NASA. Then we used it in an image overlay on the Earth, instead of Mars, which enables us to turn on the ‘Clouds’ layer, giving the result seen below:

Mars Ocean and Clouds

The NASA image did not have clouds, but the picture on this Wikipedia page does. Without plants, the land would not have been green like much of the Earth is.

To try these out for yourselves, download these KML files: Mars Ocean
Mars Ocean and Land. The second one is best viewed with all layers turned off except the ‘Clouds’ layer (found in the ‘Weather’ layer).

The maps may not be scientifically accurate, as we don’t know whether the elevation data in the NASA maps takes into account the equatorial bulge that is created due to rotation. On Earth we usually calculate elevation above or below Sea Level, but that doesn’t work on Mars as it doesn’t have a sea.

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10 things you didn’t know about Google Earth

by Mickey Mellen on May.15, 2013, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

PC Advisor recently published an article that discussed the “10 things you didn’t know about Google Maps and Google Earth” and I thought we’d take a look at it.  Some of these won’t be surprises for you, a Google Earth Blog reader, but it’s a list that would be fairly helpful to the typical computer user.

1 – Google Maps isn’t Google’s only mapping product.

You don’t say? :)

2 – Because it uses software on your own PC, Google Earth offers a more polished interface than Google Maps.

That could be argued either way.  I’d say that Maps is actually a bit more polished, but Earth offers many more features.

3 – No doubt you’ve used Google Maps Street View feature but did you know it works in 3D?

That’s indeed a fun tip. Press “3″ or “T” to enable it (only in Google Maps).

3d-street-view

4 – Google Earth includes a flight simulator so that you can view the Earth from a unique perspective.

The flight simulator can be quite a lot of fun.  Try it for yourself by activating it from the [Tools] –> [Enter Flight Simulator] option or check out this post for more.

5 – Thought that Google Maps was just for exploring the surface of the Earth?

Along with locations like the underground Akiyoshi-do caves in Japan, you can also visit other planets on Google Earth such as Mars.

mars

6 – Google Maps can show up-to-the-minute traffic conditions.

Google Earth can as well, under [Layers] –> [More] –> [Traffic].  The Maps versions is great if you use it for GPS navigation, as the traffic data is factored into your estimated travel time.

7 – Don’t think of Google Maps as a universal panacea because there are some places you can’t see.

It’s relatively rare, but some places have their imagery blurred out, such as the example found here.

Noordwijk

8 – If you’re an Android user you’ve probably discovered the Google Maps app but you might not have realized that it can be used offline too.

You can read details about the Android offline features, and don’t forget that Google Earth can be used offline as well.

9 – Using Google Maps doesn’t have to be a passive experience.

Google Maps has some great ways to save your points of interest and maps, and Google Earth has a very comprehensive set of layers to enhance your experience.  Over time, I think we’ll see those features begin to merge more and more, which would be a great thing.

10 – You can even create your own 3D models of buildings to view in Google Maps or Google Earth.

Even though they’re discontinuing the excellent Building Maker tool, you can still use SketchUp to create 3D models for use in Google Earth.

What do you think is missing from the list?

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