Google Maps just launched into space

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Google Maps has launched into space. If you ever wanted to explore our Solar System, Google is making it a little easier. Since none of us will really get to visit Pluto, Ceres or Io in the flesh, Google Maps new update gives us the next best option.

What is Google Maps?

Many of you must have seen your parents using Google Maps to find places around the city. It is a free web service offered by Google that helps people find addresses, map the quickest route to their destination, or just explore far off cities from the comfort of their homes.

Through this website or application one can see satellite images, street maps, 360° panoramic views of streets (Street View), real-time traffic conditions (Google Traffic), and routes to your destination.

Street View of the Taj Mahal; Photo Credit: Google Maps

Why is Google Maps in the news?

Now you can do better that just exploring planet Earth. A few clicks and you can leave planet Earth to ‘explore’ more of space without ever leaving your home.

Google Maps has  announced a fun update. It has added new places such as Pluto, Venus and several Saturnian moons to its space exploration feature. There are now 17 different planetary maps to explore.

Some of these new worlds are open for our exploration thanks to images from NASA’s now departed Cassini spacecraft and the European Space Agency.

This isn’t the first time Google Maps has left planet earth, they also launched the Street View of the International Space Station in July 2017. You can finally channel your inner space explorer, all from your very own computer.

So how do you use Google Maps to go into space?

Turn on your browser, open Google Maps, and enter satellite mode. Hit the zoom-out button until you’re out of this world—virtually—and are in space. Pick any planet or moon from the list on the left side and you’ll be living your astronomical dreams instantly.

If you zoom in enough, you can see the various surface features — and their names — on each planet and moon. Enjoy!

Space View of Earth, the International Space Station and Mars;  Photo credit: Google Maps
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