Move over Google Maps, World Wind is here…

I was away last weekend at the annual ICPUG Charmouth meet, and saw a very cool demo of Nasa’a World Wind mapping tool.

It’s hard to do it justice in a description, but essentially it provides a 3D interface to a world database of satellite maps, such that you can wander around the globe with your mouse, zooming in to any area to a resolution of around ~30m (and down to ~1m in some parts of the US). Generally, US detail is much better than in the rest of the world, since there are more detailed maps available for free – in Europe and elsewhere, similar maps are quite expensive.

You need a decent PC (1.5 GHz+), graphics card, and hard disk (5-10 GB for the cached data, 1 GB minimum), along with a fast Internet connection, but it’s well worth it – if you haven’t seen World Wind already, give it a try.