IMAGES: The Earth in Your Computer

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Science  13 May 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5724, pp. 933
DOI: 10.1126/science.308.5724.933c

Few of us will ever gaze down at Earth from space. With the free program World Wind, though, even chairbound adventurers can swoop past Japan's Mount Fuji, trace the fractures in a Greenland iceberg, or zoom in on their houses from high altitudes. The software from NASA's Ames Research Center knits together satellite images and elevation data, letting users chart spectacular virtual trips. For more than 30 major U.S. cities, the program features 25-centimeters-per-pixel color images—a resolution that allows viewers to pick out cars on the Golden Gate Bridge. Black-and-white aerial photographs and topographic maps capture the rest of the country. Users can also overlay the latest temperature and cloud-cover measurements and summon data on fires, floods, storms, and volcanic activity. You'll need Windows, a 3-D graphics card, and a 1.4 gigahertz or faster processor.

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