Google Earth, Now Featuring Oceans

This is interesting. It was just posted by John Hanke, the director of Google Earth and Maps:

“As you read this, I am at the beautiful California Academy of Sciences, announcing the launch of the newest version of Google Earth. This launch is particularly special to me because it marks the moment when Google Earth becomes much more complete — it now has an ocean.

Didn’t Google Earth always have an ocean? Technically, yes, well, sort of. We have always had a big blue expanse and some low-resolution shading to suggest depth. But starting today we have a much more detailed bathymetric map (the ocean floor), so you can actually drop below the surface and explore the nooks and crannies of the seafloor in 3D. While you’re there you can explore thousands of data points including videos and images of ocean life, details on the best surf spots, logs of real ocean expeditions, and much more…

But that’s not all we launched today. In addition to Ocean, we introduced new features that we hope will enhance the way people interact with Google Earth and use it to communicate with the world.

  • Historical Imagery: Until today, Google Earth displayed only one image of a given place at a given time. With this new feature, you can now move back and forth in time to reveal imagery from years and even decades past, revealing changes over time. Try flying south of San Francisco in Google Earth and turning on the new time slider (click the “clock” icon in the toolbar) to witness the transformation of Silicon Valley from a farming community to the tech capital of the world over the past 50 years or so.
  • Touring: One of the key challenges we have faced in developing Google Earth has been making it easier for people to tell stories. People have created wonderful layers to share with the world, but they have often asked for a way to guide others through them. The Touring feature makes it simple to create an easily sharable, narrated, fly-through tour just by clicking the record button and navigating through your tour destinations.
  • 3D Mars: This is the latest stop in our virtual tour of the galaxies, made possible by a collaboration with NASA. By selecting “Mars” from the toolbar in Google Earth, you can access a 3D map of the Red Planet featuring the latest high-resolution imagery, 3D terrain, and annotations showing landing sites and lots of other interesting features.

For those of you who keep track of version numbers, this is Google Earth 5.0.