NASA World Wind: May Be Cooler Than Google Earth
Recently I downloaded NASA World Wind, an open-source, free-of-charge 3D geography tool that requires client software and runs off the Internet like Google Earth.
This site compares the two.
There are pluses and minuses to each one... but I just think it's cool to use a piece of software developed by NASA!
Also, the NASA service includes USGS topographical maps, very useful in some situations. Other commercial sites offer USGS topo maps online or for download, and there's the National Map Viewer too, but the views are pretty limited or costly.
Then again, the NASA viewer maps are a bit dated -- as are the printed USGS topo maps you'll find in most libraries. Mostly, they seem to date from the mid 1980s, at least in the St. Louis area quadrangles.
So, yeah, I love NASA. Despite all their problems, space travel and the research we get as a result still fascinates me.
After all, I did attend the US Space Academy in Huntsville, AL back in 8th grade (May 1993).
So I guess I'm still just a Space Camp geek at heart.