Google Earth wasn’t really intended for scientists. The Google search engine’s extraordinary globe, which is made up of hundreds of thousands of satellite photos and aerial images, was initially meant as a game for virtual hobby pilots. Users discovered that it was fun to fly over their own homes, swing up into space and, within seconds, swoop back down into the depths of the Grand Canyon. But now the scientific community is discovering how useful the software is for their own work.
And why is it that it is always the least knowledgeable articles that get the widest exposure? Here is the much bastardized UPI writeup.