"We hope that one of the outcomes of Google Ocean will be an understanding of how much remains to be explored."
--Stephen P. Miller, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
We've got Google Earth and Google Sky. Next up will be a map of the world below sea level--Google Ocean.
The company has assembled an advisory group of oceanography experts, and in December invited researchers from institutions around the world to the Mountain View, Calif., Googleplex. There, they discussed plans for creating a 3D oceanographic map, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The tool--for now called Google Ocean, the sources say, though that name could change--is expected to be similar to other 3D online mapping applications. People will be able to see the underwater topography, called bathymetry; search for particular spots or attractions; and navigate through the digital environment by zooming and panning. (The tool, however, is not to be confused with the "Google Ocean" project by France-based Magic Instinct Software that uses Google Earth as a visualization tool for marine data.)
Asked to comment on Google Ocean, a Google spokeswoman said the company had "nothing to announce right now."
Oceanography researchers, however, say such a tool would be incredibly useful.
"There is no real terrain or depth model for the ocean in Google Earth," said Tim Haverland, a geospatial application developer at the Fisheries Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). "You can't get in a submarine and in essence fly through the water and explore ocean canyons yet."
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