As space shuttle Endeavor astronauts prepared for a Monday that's both historic and mundane, Google released an update to Google Earth that will fly you to the moon. The Moon in Google Earth gives users the equivalent of Google's Street View on the moon.
Along with a virtual moon tour narrated by moon walker Buzz Aldrin, Google has included a gallery of Apollo space missions. The Moon in Google Earth also has images from the moon's surface and details about the space debris left on the moon since 1969. Google is also offering a Google Sky application for Android-based smartphones.
Anousheh Ansari, a trustee of the X PRIZE Foundation and the first female private space explorer, wrote on The Official Google Blog, "This tool will make it easier for millions of people to learn about space, our moon and some of the most significant and dazzling discoveries humanity has accomplished together. ... I believe that this educational tool is a critical step into the future, a way to both develop the dreams of young people globally, and inspire new audacious goals."
To promote Moon in Google Earth, Google sponsored an event at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., on Monday. The scheduled speakers included Aldrin and Ansari.
Monday is the 40th anniversary of the day Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the lunar surface. To celebrate, astronauts planned a spacewalk and repairs to a broken toilet.
Astronauts Dave Wolf and Tom Marshburn were to take a six-and-a-half-hour walk outside the Endeavor. Inside the International Space Station, Gennady Padalka and Frank DeWinne were scheduled to repair the Waste Hygiene Compartment toilet in the station's Destiny laboratory. A pump in the system that adds chemicals to separate liquids and solid waste failed after running about 15 minutes on Sunday.