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Wed 29 Jun 2005 04:00 AM

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Google brings Earth to your desktop

Having first added satellite images to its mapping service, Google has gone one step further and launched a new software program called Google Earth. This application brings three-dimensional satellite images of buildings and terrain right to your desktop.

Having first added satellite images to its mapping service, Google has gone one step further and launched a new software program called Google Earth. This application brings three-dimensional satellite images of buildings and terrain right to your desktop.

Google Earth uses mapping technology by Keyhole to let broadband internet users zoom in on buildings in major cities, roads and landscapes. The search engine giant acquired satellite-imaging company Keyhole in October last year.

“Google Earth utilises broadband streaming technology and 3D graphics, much like a video game, enabling users to interactively explore the world, either from their own neighbourhood or the far corners of the globe,” said John Hanke, general manager, Keyhole at Google. “With many ways to access geographic information, Google provides a very rich local search experience for users worldwide.”

While the basic version of Google Earth is freely available from http://earth.google.com, two upgrade options, Google Earth Plus for home and personal use, and Google Earth Pro for commercial use, require an annual subscription fee.

Google Earth Plus provides high-resolution maps for printing, tools for drawing marks on maps and even imports this data into GPS devices for $20 per year. Google Earth Pro on the other hand, allows users to save site plans, property lists, and satellite images of roads and schools to a PC, and journey planner complete with driving direction videos for $400 a year.

A similar global map tool called World Wind has also been developed by NASA and is freely available at http://worldwind.arc.nasa.gov. This tool allows you to zoom from satellite altitude in on any place on Earth.

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