Today Google announced its Google Earth program will allow you navigate stars
as well. You can now see constellations and navigate around the cosmos. You can see how planets rotate using an animation tool and more. Here are some of the neat things the program will let you do:
— From Cassiopeia to Andromeda, the Constellations layer connects the points of constellations through space, labeling each with its given name. Users can learn about the stars that make up their favorite constellations.
— The Backyard Astronomy layer lets users click through a variety of placemarks and information on stars, galaxies, and nebulae visible to the eye, binoculars and small telescopes. This layer is useful for the amateur astronomer who may benefit from a comprehensive, organized way to reference fragments of the night sky.
Hubble Space Telescope Imagery — The HST layer provides users with over 120 high-resolution images provided by the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA/ESA’s renowned orbiting telescope.
Moon — The Moon layer displays animations of two months of both lunar positions and moon phases.
Planets — The Planets layer illustrates the seven official planets and their positions in the sky two months into the future.
Users Guide to Galaxies — The Users Guide to Galaxies layer enables users to go on virtual tours through different types of galaxies, from Ursa Minor Dwarf to the Milky Way.
Life of a Star — The Life of a Star layer takes the user on a tour through the different stages of a star’s life cycle.
If you are like me you are wondering when you will not only be able to zoom around the stars online but do it in person in a spacecraft. This of course brings to light a new telecom problem our kids will face. Will there be good cell phone coverage in space? Will they use GSM? Will the iPhone work? Another important question is whether network neutrality will apply once you pass the moon? Will the FCC have to re-auction all frequencies once again? Will Russia plant a titanium flag on the moon meaning they own all the airwaves beyond the Earth?
But before we get too bogged down on communications in space, we should make sure we are communicating well here on Earth. For example how is mobility going here in the US? Better than expected? Is there room for improvement?
I started to think about this topic as I read Greg Galitzine’s ideas on the matter where he discusses some whitepapers
See a video touting Google Earth’s new “Sky” features in version 4.2.