While space tourism is still a little ways away, Google is getting a head start by offering its own tours of the International Space Station — the latest destination on Google Maps’ Street View.
To use it, users just have to click and drag to see in all directions. Use the zoom tool to get a closer look. One click in the right place can take you into another room. But be careful: It’s easy to get lost up there!
Traditionally, Google uses its fleet of Street View cars, snowmobiles and sometimes even hikers with backpacks on to capture 360-degree imagery. This time, Google recruited astronauts to take DSLR photos and send them down to Earth to be stitched into stunning panoramas.
French astronaut Thomas Pesquet said that working in zero gravity made it tricky to capture the images, especially with five other crew members (roommates, he calls them) busily working and moving around. Capturing the emotion posed another challenge.
“In the six months that I spent on the International Space Station, it was difficult to find the words or take a picture that accurately describes the feeling of being in space,” he said in a blog post.
Pesquet has been excitedly sharing the feature he helped create on his Twitter page. In his native French, he tweeted, “Always wanted to take you into space, now it’s almost possible with Google Street View.”
Toujours voulu vous emmener dans l'espace, maintenant c'est presque possible avec Google Street view! Explorez l'ISS https://t.co/VixnEpGbLQ
— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) July 20, 2017
Offering space tours isn’t the only first for Google this time around. The International Space Station destination is also the first to utilize clickable annotations to let users know what they’re looking at.
In the Cupola, for example, users can see a Russian Soyuz spacecraft peeking in the window. When you click on the spacecraft, a sidebar pops up, describing the history of the Soyuz and how astronauts use it.
Ready to take a look around? For an added challenge, see if you can find a guitar case, an atlas and a floating can of Fritos bean dip as you take your tour.