World Wind 1.4

NASA (Freeware)

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Ames Research Center has developed a virtual globe that shows Earth and its features.  Using NASA World Wind, a program especially designed for personal computers, users can view any location on the planet from the height of a satellite, observe the various landscape in different continents and countries, and zoom in at any point of interest.

The program has options on whether or not to display additional information, such as longitude and latitude lines, country boundaries, landmarks, flags, and more.   Also, users can access forecasts, including storms, rising volcano activities, fires, floods, and other hazards.  Additional data are available through World Wind’s other tools, like animated views of geological-historical events, and a wealth of information through its link to the CIA website.

World Wind is a rich source of knowledge about Earth.  Not only does it present an excellent three-dimensional view of the planet’s topography, it also shows them in different perspectives by using data from a variety of sources, including Shuttle Radar Topography Mission Data and Landsat satellite imagery.

It also has additional interesting features, such as allowing users to drag the virtual image of Earth while it rotates on its axis. Moreover, it lets them view Venus, Mars, and Jupiter; and has rich images of the moon’s terrain.