Tonight I noticed that mars.google.com now has a CNAME record that points to www.google.com. This usually means that something is about to happen with that subdomain -- with the exception of calendar.google.com of course. So I started digging and you will never guess what I found -- a Google Maps type application that lets you view Mars. This service is called "Google Mars".
Using this service, you can browse the martian landscape the same way as using Google Maps. Google has included three different types of data in Google Mars.
- Elevation - A shaded relief map, generated with data from the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft. This map is color-coded by altitude, so you can use the color key at the lower left to estimate elevations.
- Visible - A mosaic of images taken by the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft. MOC is like the digital camera you have at home. Basically, this is what your eyes would see if you were in orbit around Mars.
- Infrared - A mosaic of infrared images taken by the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) on NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft. Warmer areas appear brighter, and colder areas are darker. Clouds and dust in the atmosphere are transparent in the infrared, making this the sharpest global map of Mars that's ever been made.
When you first load the service, you will see a stunning map of Mars that by default shows you elevation. You can switch between the three views by clicking the buttons in the top right corner.
According to the about page, you cannot currently use the Google Earth client to view Mars data -- but they're "working on it"