What is Google Earth?
Google Earth is a compact program that Google created and provides for free. It allows users to visit nearly any location on the planet in a virtual environment. Google Earth is similar to Google Maps but has much more functionality and can be downloaded to the user's computer. By using multiple geosynchronous satellites combined with GPS monitoring systems and the Google Search Engine, Google Earth is able to locate and show the user a recent image of any location. For example, Google Earth can be used to view houses, landscapes, and even busy streets. Although Google Earth is updated on a regular basis, it is still not available in real-time.
Google Earth includes a feature labelled "Places" that allows users to search for both specific addresses and general venues such as restaurants, retail outlets, and other businesses. Google Earth's "Places" is able to keep track of this information and provide past search results each time the user accesses this feature. While Google Earth can be used to view a wide number of items, Google Earth Places allows users to view the specific locations and items that apply to them. For example, if a user runs a search for Dunkin Donuts, several hundred results are likely to be displayed, even if the search is limited to a specific city or state. Google Earth Places allows users to choose a specific Dunkin Donuts that is nearby and save it in My Places. This allows the user to refer to that location whenever he/she chooses without running an additional search.
Google Earth Layers allows users to toggle additional information about a certain place. For example, if a user toggles the Road Layer on, he/she will see lines on the map that are named according to their individual street or avenue. Layers also allows users to see "Places of Interest" (POI) by toggling them on or off. Google Earth Layers can display weather or traffic conditions in addition to demographics and parcel data. Google Earth Layers is provided by both Google and third-party content providers but can not yet be created by the user.
Google Earth has an amazing zooming capability that focuses on the smallest and most mundane items. For example, a user can run a search for a specific address and zoom in far enough to clearly read the house's unit number, see the house's mailbox, and even see any vehicles or people that happen to be outside at the time. Google Earth provides the user with a very effective navigation tool that not only allows the user to move across the map in any direction but also zoom in and out by dragging the scroll bar up and down. Google Earth also has the ability to zoom out far enough to see the entire planet.
Google Earth Showcase
Google Earth Showcase is a collection of 3D environments provided by Google that allows the user to see a number of interesting places and things. For example, Google Earth Showcase features both a Google Moon and Google Mars that allows the user to see these heavenly bodies just as they would any place on earth. Google Earth Showcase also includes Ocean, Sky, 3D Buildings, Climate Change, Heroes of Google Earth, Hubble Telescope, Favorite Places, Ancient Rome, UNESCO, and Liquid Galaxy.