Novel Research: Google Earth

I have done a lot of research for the novel I’m writing, and it is especially difficult since I care about scientific details. That means I’m doing a lot of research about Mars. At the moment I am sorting through a collection of factoids about atmospheric pressure, soil toxicity, static electricity, and calendar systems for a 685-day year.

On top of all that, I’m trying to map the cities and research installations I’ve created.  Designing cities a world away could have been really complicated, but I found a handy tool to make it easy.

In case you didn’t know, Google Earth allows you to look at maps and satellite pictures all over the world. It’s very cool and definitely worth the download. You can even use a flight simulator to fly around the earth if you please.What does this have to do with my novel? Well, Google Earth decided to be even more awesome and added Mars to their maps. That means you can click on an icon and change your screen to a globe of Mars. It’s marked with the main important landmarks, touchdown points for the rovers, and cool pictures taken by the satellite orbiting the planet.

Currently I use it to mark locations for cities and research installations on my fictionalized Mars. It allows me to calculate distance with reasonable accuracy and determine how long it would take to get from say, the capital city to a geological research station in the desert (approximately 3 hours.) I’m also noting locations within the main cities, airports, shuttle points, and favorite hangouts.

You can do this with Earth maps just as easily. I know I’ve only scratched the surface of the program. There are so many things Google Earth is capable of. For now I am content to enjoy tagging places where my heroine likes to hang out, her favorite restaurant, and the research installation where she interns. Has anyone else messed around with Google Earth? Let me know what I’m missing!


2 thoughts on “Novel Research: Google Earth

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  1. This sounds like very cool research. I too have used google earth, but the resolution for the site of my novel is historic and extremely rural. This means that I have had to rely on archival material to come to understand the terrain of the area. Unlike researching Mars, I was able to spend three days this week in the ruins of the historic gold mine/ town that I am using as the backdrop to my story.

    Good luck with things. I’ll check back and see how your tale evolves.

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