Take a “Trip” with a Cool New Google Maps Feature

a planet earth from space
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Google Maps is one of my go-to tools when traveling, and I just learned of a super cool new feature they’ve added.

Rather than being confined to looking at familiar oceans and peaks, you can now explore….Space!

a screenshot of a computer screen

Google in conjunction with Nasa now offers planets, icy moons, and even an International Space Station to “travel” to via a Google Maps space feature.

I pulled up the International Space Station, and found that I could catapult my way through the tunnels by using the arrow functions. My trip was solo, but as I clicked on information points throughout the journey they helped me understand what I was looking at.

a space suit inside a space station
International Space Station (Photo credit: Google Maps)

After looking over the moons, I pulled up Ganymede, the largest moon of Jupiter. I zoomed in to find unfamiliar topography and places such as Tettu Facula that seemed to be straight out of a Star Wars movie.

a map of the moon
Ganymede topography via Google Maps (Photo credit: Google Maps)

Here are all of the places you can explore via Google Maps (with links to each):

Earth (Duh!)
International Space Station

a planet with many names
lo (Photo credit: Google Maps)

Here’s a link to the new Space feature.

You can plot out vacations for your great-great-grandchildren, or just get some alternate pet names, like Meng-P’o Macula (located on Pluto).

Obviously, the options for these new places are limited and you won’t find any bicycle routes or traffic like you would on good ‘ol Earth.

a white background with grey text

There is also no search feature just yet so if your kiddo learned about a place in school and you want to find it on the map you’ll have to do a lot of zooming and spinning via your mouse to rotate things around.

Back in today’s world of 2017, I find Google Maps to be very helpful to figure out in advance if a hotel is really situated by a lake as advertised, for example, or if it is several blocks away with better options closer. I also use it to find out what restaurants are in an area around me (especially outside of the US when Yelp doesn’t always accurately display all the options).

a map of a hotel
Location of Holiday Hotel Bolsena in Italy (Photo credit: Google Maps)

Of course, Google Maps offers turn-by-turn directions and even offline directions. If you love Google Maps as much as I do but haven’t yet used it offline, fellow blogger Jeanne with Le Chic Geek has easy step-by-step directions here. Offline (and online) directions aren’t always perfect, as I discovered on a trip in Greece where I ended up at a tiny church hidden in the hills rather than the huge popular tourist attraction I was looking for. In some countries, Google Maps doesn’t offer realistic routes, and will tell you to turn left where there is a field of goats or a wall. In those instances I use Waze to navigate the streets.

Maybe someday we’ll actually holiday on another planet, and in the meantime this cool Google Maps feature will give us some inspiration.

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