Google and NASA

The big news this week for Google watchers this week is the announcement Wednesday of a memorandum of understanding between Google and NASA’s Ames Research Center. Press releases from ARC and Google; news coverage from the San Jose Mercury News (reprinted in the Miami Herald); via Google Earth Blog and Ogle Earth.

The immediate implications are unclear: while one Googler talked about the idea of a Google Mars, and it appears that Google will get access to satellite and space data, what NASA is getting is not yet apparent. Google is building a facility on the Ames campus, and there will be some collaborations on a number of fronts, but this is probably more in terms of pure research than in tangible products — i.e., it doesn’t look like we’re talking about a merger of Google Earth and World Wind.

Winer’s unhappy with the idea of a government agency collaborating with the private sector, but from what I can gather this is well within the ARC’s mandate. Besides, it’s not the first NASA/Google collaboration: see, for example, the Global Connection project (via All Points Blog), and, don’t forget, Google Moon (see previous entry).