Science & Technology

Google Maps expands its interplanetary domain all the way out to Pluto

If you zoom way, way out on Google Maps, you can now find your way around places like Sputnik Planum, Seville Mons, Aphrodite Terra and Damascus Sulcus.

Those are destinations on Pluto, Iapetus, Venus and Enceladus, just made available for virtual exploration by the Google Maps team in cooperation with astronomical artist Björn Jónsson, NASA and the European Space Agency.

The best way to start is with a far-out view of Google Maps, which will get you situated with a choice of 17 realms to explore. You can zoom in on Earth, of course, or take a spin through the International Space Station. You can also explore the moon and Mars, which have been part of the Google universe for years.

But for something more exotic, check out the pockmarked surface of Io, a moon of Jupiter that’s considered the most volcanically active world in the solar system (yes, counting Earth). Or Enceladus and Titan, two Saturnian moons that are considered potential homes for subsurface marine life. (Damascus Sulcus is one of the “tiger stripes” through which the late, lamented Cassini orbiter saw water spewing.)

Google Maps’ view of Pluto sports a host of relatively recent place names, including the 14 labels that received the International Astronomical Union’s blessing last month as well as informal names that the IAU hasn’t yet approved.

And if scanning the solar system gives you a bad case of extraterrestrial wanderlust, interplanetary travel posters from NASA, SpaceX and artists Tyler Nordgren and Steve Thomas just might help chase those earthbound blues away.

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