Google Earth is an excellent visual tool that lets you explore the world from your armchair. Check out our five favourite activities in Google Earth.
Could there be life on Mars? Nobody knows yet, of course, but the question has fuelled much science fiction as well as scientific inquiry. You can ponder that question yourself as you check out the new Mars mode in Google Earth 5.0.
After loading Google Earth, go to the little planet icon at the top centre of the view, pull down and click on Mars. You'll then see a real simulation of the planet Mars. In this view, you will use the same controls, and you'll also have Layers to choose from as you do in the Earth view.
Type in 'Valles Marineris' in 'Fly to' and press return. Zoom in to explore the canyon. Often called the Grand Canyon of Mars, the Valles Marineris system of canyons stretches across 4000km long, or the equivalent of the width of the US. Located just south of the Martian equator, the canyon measures six to seven times deeper than the Earth's Grand Canyon in some places.
When you have finished exploring the Valles Marineris, go to the Layers sections. Click on 'Mars Gallery' then on 'Rovers and Landers'. In this section you can learn about rovers and landers that have explored Mars and images they have taken. For example, a view from the Phoenix Lander is a composite of more than 400 images.
In this view you can also see 3D models of the devices. Also in Layers, see 'A Travellers Guide to Mars', which offers informational balloons and images about such Martian features as Polar Caps and Olympus Mons.
Go on a sightseeing tour
The absolute easiest way to kill some time in Google Earth is to take a tour provided by Google Earth itself. Las Vegas, the Imperial Palace in Japan or Eiffel Tower, anyone?
Under places, open the 'Sightseeing' folder. Click on the box if it's not checked. Double click the play tour icon. (It's the one that looks like a little folder and is at the bottom right of the Places section.) You'll be flown to all the places that are clicked.
This tour goes by pretty quickly, but you can pause it anytime to explore places of interest to you. (The play icon shows up at the lower bottom-left of the screen.)
NEXT PAGE: Hang out in Times Square and tour a baseball stadium