What are Google and NASA up to now?

This sounds exciting: A media advisory for Friday Dec 15 has Google and NASA Ames Research Center (ARC) announcing a new kind of collaboration. SpaceRef.com has some hints as to what this entails (but doesn’t get specific):

Among other things, the collaboration will focus on an agency-wide project whereby NASA imagery and data will be translated into formats that will facilitate its wider distribution outside the agency. […] Among the details of this new cooperative project, Google will be contributing funding to support NASA employees – and not just at ARC – but at other NASA centers as well.

I have no idea what this announcement will be about, but I can make wild guesses. Do note that Google Earth is due an update — the last couple of updates have been six weeks apart, and the last one was six weeks ago. Also, NASA Ames specializes not just in aerial imagery but also in Mars and Lunar imagery. And NASA has now begun offering aerial imagery as KML. So either we get a much deeper integration of NASA images in Google Earth, or we get a virtual globe for Mars (which disappeared when Google bought Keyhole) or the moon. Or I’m just overexcited. (Via Search Engine Land)

7 thoughts on “What are Google and NASA up to now?”

  1. I assume you do know there are virtual globes of Mars, Moon, Venus, and Jupiter? They are in Nasa’s Worldwind.

    Wonder what is going to happen to NASA’s long term support of Worldwind. Not sure what to make of the moves NASA has been doing lately.


  2. While not sure this is at all connected, (it won’t be the first time I’ve got the wrong end of the stick – but it’s interesting none-the-less), the latest New Scientist has an article, The Atmosphere by Numbers, that discusses the “embarrassment of data” that Nasa has collected via its Earth Observing System (EOS) and it’s plans to make this available via Google Earth in April with a system called iEarth – from ground level to stratosphere.

    I’ve done a few searches but have come up with nothing – so please forgive if this is a complete tangent and/or has been discussed before.

    The article specically mentions Google Earth and not generic 3D browsers – and no mention in there of Worldwind.

    (ps I’ve always liked a “murder of crows” as a way of describing ‘a number/collection of..’ but an “embarrassment of data” has quite a ring to it as well – gave me a chuckle.

  3. Kos: It is the old “Right hand not knowing what the Left hand is doing” issue.

    What they are doing doesn’t look that hard.. and could probably be done better in World Wind by adding in some volumetric code. Hmm.. *off to create and assign more tasks*

  4. Chad…very true. I would argue it’s worst than that. Without getting into a long drawn out rant. Generally, incompetence gets promoted in the Feds. Usually I don’t trust decisions made by higher-ups given that general trend.

    Plus, as the ole saying goes, money talks….BS walks.

    I do work for the Feds and have a good idea how it works, granted I don’t work at NASA. But for the most part, what happens in one agency is true in others. Eventhough there are striking differences between agencies and their cultures.


  5. Maybe NASA plans to get organized and share their data for the benefit of the world. Using Google Earth would be a natural way for a large scale public effort. Most people who would care about science data likely have Google Earth installed. Google has distribution bandwidth. They support Linux, Mac, and Windows. They have a large development team. They handle multiple languages. Also, since Google is not dishonest, rude and vulgar in their blogs, they may be more acceptable to NASA executives and funders at the National level.

  6. Doug…you do realize the blog you linked to. The person isn’t an employee of NASA. He works on Worldwind because he likes to. :)

    So whatever is stated there isn’t official sentiments.

    My questions is, what is in it for Google? How are they going to benefit from it, besides free press? They are a for-profit company. Or are they doing it out of the goodness of their hearts? Maybe that is it, since I understand Google higher-ups are libs and Democrats.


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