|Actual picture of the earth. NASA photoshops out the labels.|
It's WhirlyGlobe-Maply powering that app and, indeed, the whole thing is open source.
How It Happened
I approached MapBox about doing this one a few weeks ago. It's basically advertising for me and it was really simple to write. Take a look at the source code, it's just not that big.
Once I put the first version together, Justin@MapBox cleaned it up and generally made the UI elements work better. That stuff takes more time than you realize.
Then we shipped it and now you can play with.
Future of MapBox Earth
The app's goals were to show off MapBox's lovely satellite data sets and advertise WhirlyGlobe-Maply. I'd say we're good on both of those. What's next depends on what people want to do with it.
Since the app itself is open source and the toolkit is open source... you can do whatever you like (within the constraints of an Apache 2.0 license). Or you can pay me to do whatever you like, which is kind of how I make my living.
We'll see how that goes. In the mean time there are other interesting things afoot with MapBox and mousebird consulting.