In honor of the birthday of 19th Century astronomer Percival Lowell, Google Inc. on Monday offered views of the planet Mars through a service developed in conjunction with NASA researchers.
Called Google Mars, the service offers three different views of the Red Planet, an elevation map that shows color-coded peaks and valleys, a visible-imagery map that shows what a person would actually see from high above the planet, and an infrared-imagery map to show details a person's eyes would miss.
The service combines technology from Google Maps, the company's road-map service, with detailed scientific maps of Mars. NASA researchers Noel Gorelick and Michael Weiss-Malik joined Google in the project.
The new service was launched on the birthday of Lowell, a member of the distinguished Lowell family in Boston who studied Mars as a full-time career in the latter part of the 19th Century. Lowell's greatest contribution to astronomy, however, was in his search for "Planet X" beyond Neptune. His work led to the discovery of Pluto in 1930.