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Google Earth Hits One Billion Downloads

Google Earth has been downloaded a billion times--that includes the desktop client, mobile apps, and plug-in.

With the one billionth download of Google Earth, Google has proved, if nothing else, that we humans love to examine our own planet.

Google announced its one billion download milestone on its LatLong blog on Wednesday. This milestone includes the desktop client, mobile apps, and plug-in. To celebrate, Google has launched a Website called OneWorldManyStories.com, which highlights how people have used the earth mapping software through the years.

One story describes how the HALO Trust taps Google Earth to help clear landmines across 12 countries. Another story describes how a professor in Johannesburg used Google Earth to map previously-unidentified cave sites and fossil deposits, leading to the discovery of well-preserved hominid skeletons.

Google Earth has also uncovered crop circles, bizarre celebrity tributes and other strange sightings. In 2007, the software also revealed a new ballistic-missile submarine in China.

[RELATED: In Pictures: The Strangest Sights in Google Earth | 10 Amazing Google Earth Add-Ons]

Google acquired Keyhole and its mapping software in 2004, leading to the launch of Google Earth in 2005. Since then, the software has made its way into Google Maps, and has expanded to include the Moon, Mars, the sky, and the ocean floor.

"When we founded Keyhole, Inc. back in 2001...we never imagined our geospatial technology would be used by people in so many unexpected ways," Brian McClendon, Vice President of Engineering for Google Earth and Maps, writes on the LatLong blog.

Google wants to hear more stories about how people have used Google Earth. The software is, of course, still available for download.

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