If you’ve ever wanted to explore the Solar System, Google has got you covered. They’ve just released an awesome new set of maps that lets you zoom in on a variety of planets, dwarf planets, and moons.
Head on over to Google Maps Space and, if you click the three lines in the top left corner, you can select from a host of otherworldly bodies to explore. The images have been taken by a variety of spacecraft and orbiters, like the Cassini spacecraft, and stitched together for you to enjoy.
“Explore the icy plains of Enceladus, where Cassini discovered water beneath the moon's crust – suggesting signs of life,” Google said in a blog post.
“Peer beneath the thick clouds of Titan to see methane lakes. Inspect the massive crater of Mimas – while it might seem like a sci-fi look-a-like, it is a moon, not a space station.”
The maps were assembled by astronomical artist Björn Jónsson, who put them together using imagery from NASA and the European Space Agency. In total there are a dozen worlds to explore, as well as the International Space Station (ISS).
Each body also includes labels, letting you pick out some areas of interest such as Valles Marineris on Mars – the largest canyon in the Solar System. Google got things a bit wrong at first, with the labels being off by about 180 degrees. At the time of writing the issue hasn't been fixed yet, but they said they were working on it.
Images for some worlds like Mars is a lot more detailed than others, as we’ve got a lot more data here. This allows you to zoom right down to the surface and see features with an almost Google Earth-like quality.
Others like Saturn’s moon Titan are a bit more tricky, as most of our data comes from radar imaging conducted by the Cassini spacecraft, however, you’ll still be able to spot some methane lakes and seas on this moon, the only place other than Earth with known bodies of liquid on the surface.
So if you’ve got some time to kill, go and check it out. Technology is really quite amazing, eh?