[Update 2007.08.22: Google Sky is now a reality. Read more here.]
Alberto Conti, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Center in Baltimore, writes on his blog about the potential for using the technology behind Google Earth to help visualize the wealth of astronomical information that’s available but not easily accessible, currently.
Alberto’s writes that he suggested “Google Sky” to John Hanke when they met a few weeks ago, and that he will be getting in touch with Google Earth VP of engineering Brian McClendon in the next few days to organize to set up a visit to STSC for some brainstorming. Ah, the combined wonders of blogging and search — Brian, you can head on over to Alberto’s blog now and preview his pitch:-)
Alberto also writes:
In my proposal, I also suggested we should look at planetary mapping implementations of Google Sky and at Google Starship, a flyby among galaxies (using redshift information)! Google-Simulations and Google-Wormholes are just around the corner! :-P
Yes, but what kind of ads is Google going to sell alongside Google Sky? The “problem” is that Mars currently lacks holiday destinations, real estate markets and shopping malls. There is plenty of incentive to provide mass browsing tools for Earth, but when it comes to space, I see more room for a government role or an open-source role. The audience for space, unfortunately, is not unlike the audience for opera — refined in taste but small in number.
(That said, I’d all be for a 3D Mars simulation game à la Second Life where we all get to settle and build on a terraformed Mars.)
PS. The free and multiplatformed Celestia is a great appplication, and comes with its own addon repository.