Four Years of Google Earth, and What Has it Found?

The virtual mapping tool, which turns four years old this month, has led to some amazing discoveries
In this case, Google Earth uncovered a surprise practically in a user's own backyard. Italian computer programmer Luca Mori was looking at his neighborhood in Sorbolo, Parma, back in 2005 when he noticed an odd oval shape accompanied by dark rectangular shapes. Local archeologists from Parma's National Archaeological Museum explored the area and turned up an Italian villa that is possibly over 2,000 years old. Google Maps

Google Earth in its current form went live in June 2005. In addition to allowing users to fly to their childhood homes, zoom in on potential vacation spots, and explore under the sea and atop the world’s highest peaks, the virtual mapping software has proven instrumental in a number of scientific discoveries — several in 2009 alone. Here’s a look back at some of the highlights.

Any guesses on future Google Earth discoveries? Will Google Earth be an ever-more-important scientific tool in the future? Post in the comments.