"This agreement between NASA and Google will soon allow every American to experience a virtual flight over the surface of the moon or through the canyons of Mars," said NASA Administrator Michael Griffin. "This innovative combination of information technology and space science will make NASA's space exploration work accessible to everyone."
NASA and Google also are finalising details for additional collaborations that include joint research, products, facilities, education and missions.
The annoucement comes days after NASA’s climatologists announced plans to release atmospheric data for the Google Earth mapping application. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory demonstrated a prototype of "iEarth" at last week’s meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. Set to be available in April, according to New Scientist, iEarth will draw data from the Earth Observing System, a network of a satellites, weather balloons and ground-based sensors collecting data such as air temperatures, water-vapour densities and aerosol concentrations.