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Mis à jour : il y a 3 min 56 sec

The best of Google Earth for July 2015

il y a 3 heures 16 min

Google has continued to roll out 3D imagery, with over 50 new or updated areas so far in July. In addition, we saw indications that Google is interested in getting 3D imagery for Indian cities.


Picturesque Lübeck, Germany, one of over 50 new areas of 3D this month.

We have seen quite a lot of satellite and aerial imagery added this month, but Google has not updated any of its ‘imagery update’ maps, nor the new ‘Satellite imagery updates’ layer in Google Earth. We had a look at some interesting finds in the new imagery and thank you to GEB readers for pointing out some further locations in the comments of that post.

On the 29th of June, in celebration of Google Earth’s 10th anniversary, Google added some new layers to Google Earth under the heading ‘Voyager’. This month we did a series of posts looking at these new layers. We also suggested adding a layer marking interesting sights to be found in Google Earth imagery.

We showed you how to animate historical imagery by using Google Earth Tours. There is a lot of room for improvement and suggestions are welcome.



This month NASA’s New Horizons mission did a Pluto fly-by and we had a look at the new imagery of Pluto in Google Earth before and after the flyby.



We had a go at getting Landsat 8 imagery into Google Earth. Thank you to Geosage for providing some useful extra tips in the comments.




We made a JavaScript converter to convert from Google Maps Street View URLs to Google Earth Street View KMLs. Thank you to GEB reader LeRoy for letting us know that it wasn’t working in Internet Explorer. We have fixed the problem and it should now work in all modern browsers.

The post The best of Google Earth for July 2015 appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Animating historical imagery using Google Earth Tours

jeu 30-07-2015

Last year we showed you how to animate Google Earth historical imagery using the Google Earth plugin. However, the Google Earth plugin has been deprecated and is set to stop working on December 12th, 2015. In addition, Google Chrome and other browsers are making it harder to use the plugin.

So, we have decided to try and achieve the same thing using Google Earth Tours. In a Google Earth Tour it is possible to specify particular views that include not just the position and angle, but also whether or not to show ‘historical imagery’ and when in ‘historical imagery’ what exact date to show. It is, however, not easy to create a Tour to animate historical imagery using just the built in functionality of Google Earth, so instead we have decided to do it via JavaScript.

To use it, the first step is to decide what view you want in Google Earth. Create a Placemark in Google Earth then save it as a KML file. Do make sure it is KML not KMZ, as our script cannot read KMZ. Next, decide on your settings below and and upload the Placemark file. Then click on the “Create Tour” link to download the generated KML tour for you to view in Google Earth.

It has been tested in Google Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer 11.

select,input{padding:4px;width:100px;color:black}


Start: (yyyy-mm-dd) End: (yyyy-mm-dd) Step: YearsMonthsDays Pause: (seconds) Placemark KML: Create Tour



Try adjusting the settings to get the best results for a given location. Remember that the functionality works whether you want to see whole continents or zoom right in, but you will want to choose your settings depending on the availability of imagery. Although it is possible to make the pause between steps shorter than 1 second, we found that Google Earth could not keep up and simply did not refresh the screen on every step. It seemed to work alright with the 1 second setting, but if you have a slow computer or slow internet you may want to make it longer. For best results run the tour through a few times depending on the speed of your internet to cache the imagery.

We have created a few tours which you can download here to give you an idea of what is possible.


The historical imagery for Europe in the YouTube video above appears to come in waves from the top downwards. We believe this has more to do with how Google Earth refreshes the screen during the tour than the actual dates that the imagery was added.

The post Animating historical imagery using Google Earth Tours appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Latest Pluto map in Google Earth

mer 29-07-2015

Earlier this month, we had a look at a map of Pluto that NASA produced and made available in KML format for viewing Google Earth.

That was before the New Horizons spacecraft had reached Pluto and the image was very blurry. Now the flyby is complete and we are starting to see higher resolution images, including the first high resolution map. It still only includes about half of the surface area and is a monochrome image, but it is considerably higher resolution than the previous version.

The image provided turned out to be too large for Google Earth to display properly, so we had to halve the resolution. Even so, there is a lot of detail in the map and some interesting features to be seen.

To view it for yourself in Google Earth download this KML file. It is best viewed with all layers turned off, and turn off the Earth atmosphere for a more realistic look by de-selecting “View->Atmosphere”.

To see some other planets we have looked at with Google Earth see these posts.
.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Earth Blog FAQ

mar 28-07-2015

Quite a lot of the emails we get at GEB blog repeat the same questions or requests, so we thought it would be a good idea to create a short FAQ for GEB covering the most common questions and requests. Firstly, it is important to point out that we are a fan-based blog writing about Google Earth-related news and content. We are not part of Google.

I am having trouble installing Google Earth. Can you help?
The most common error recently has been 1603 on Windows. This is a known problem with the online installer and indicates that Google Earth is already installed. You could try just restoring the icons with instructions from here. If that fails, and for other types of installation errors, the offline installer found here resolves the majority of problems. Finally, consider installing a different version of Google Earth from the same set of links, either an older version, or Google Earth Pro instead of Google Earth.

Please make a correction to the map.
For single corrections use the ‘report a problem’ link at the bottom right hand corner of Google Maps. Alternatively, if you are willing to put in the effort and for larger updates use Google Map Maker and make the changes yourself. As of this writing, editing in Map Maker is temporarily disabled due to abuse, but it is expected to be re-enabled in early August 2015.

When will Google update my satellite / aerial imagery or Street View?
Google get their imagery from a wide variety of sources, and due to there being so many factors involved, it is impossible to predict when and where they will do updates. Frank did an excellent article about this found here. You should also keep in mind that the imagery displayed in Google Earth might not be the most recent available, so be sure to check the ‘Historical Imagery’ feature in Google Earth. More information about this can be found here. Instructions on how to use it, can be found here. An article about why the dates displayed in Google Earth may not always be completely accurate, can be found here.

Please update my satellite / aerial imagery, Street View or 3D imagery.
We have a detailed article about this question here. In summary, Google does not take requests for imagery updates. However, it is possible to add imagery to Street View using their Photo Sphere smartphone app.

Can I buy a satellite image of a particular location and time not found in Google Earth?
If you cannot find the date you are looking for in Google Earth and you are willing to spend money, one option is to purchase the satellite imagery. However, you may find the few other dates they have will have clouds, haze, or have other issues making them unsuitable for viewing. Suppliers of satellite imagery include:

For very low resolution imagery, consider the free Landsat 8 imagery. A better choice is to contact local commercial or government aerial photographers who may have larger archives of historical imagery for you to choose and acquire.

Please unblur an image in Street View.
As far as we know this is not possible. Google blurs images for privacy reasons and the process of verifying that you are the person in the image or have the necessary authority to ask for it to be unblurred would be just too complicated.


We do not know whether Google will, on request, fix cases like this where the face detection algorithm has blurred a statue’s face unnecessarily.

The post Google Earth Blog FAQ appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Mongolia gets Street View

lun 27-07-2015

Google has recently added Mongolia to the list of countries with Street View. Read more about it on Google’s LatLong blog. There have also been some major additions in Malaysia on the Island of Borneo. Previous major additions this year were Madagascar and Canadian parks in May and Greenland in February.


Extent of Street View in Mongolia.


Extent of Street View in Malaysia


Street View changes between June 22nd, 2015 and July 25th, 2015 (new Street View in red). Larger version here.


Street View captured Lake Khuvsgul Ice Festival. Fly there in Google Earth with this KML file

The post Mongolia gets Street View appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Getting Landsat 8 imagery into Google Earth

ven 24-07-2015

When Landsat 8 imagery was made available on Amazon AWS our first question was: ‘how easy will it be to view it in Google Earth?’. This is our experience trying to answer that question.

The Landsat 8 satellite has a number of different cameras that capture imagery in different wavelengths. For details of the various sensors see this article. What we want to do is try to get a true colour image into Google Earth, which involves combining the three colour bands (2,3 and 4) and the panchromatic band (band 8) to provide extra detail (a technique known as pansharpening).

The first step is to decide which part of the globe you wish to look at. Landsat 8 covers almost the whole globe every 16 days. The imagery is arranged into strips and rows and you need to determine the strip and row of your point of interest. We used the USGS Global Visualization Viewer for this purpose. It requires the Java plugin, which Chrome says will soon be unsupported. An alternative is USGS Earth Explorer. Both websites also help you find what Landsat imagery is available for a given point of interest. Look for one with either minimal cloud cover or as close as possible to the date you are interested in. We chose an image of the Cape Town region captured on July 1st, 2015. Take note of the scene ID, which in our case was LC81750832015182LGN00.

Next you need to find the relevant imagery on Amazon AWS. Amazon has a well written explanation for how the imagery is organized and how to access it. In our case, we chose to download it using a web browser directly from the URL, which for our image was:
http://landsat-pds.s3.amazonaws.com/L8/175/083/LC81750832015182LGN00/index.html

Next, download the only file that is a *.txt file, as well as the files ending in B2.TIF, B3.TIF, B4.TIF and B8.TIF. Note that they are quite large files, typically about 400MB for all of them.

Next, we need to combine them and we came across a set of useful tools available for free for non-commercial use from GeoSage, which do most of the work for you. (Note that they are windows only.)

After downloading and installing the GeoSage’s Spectral Transformer for Landsat-8 (GUI), we ran it and opened the text file that was downloaded earlier. However, when we tried to run it, it could not read the TIF files as it doesn’t recognize the compression used. So we had to open and re-save each of the images to remove the compression. We managed to do this with the free Gimp image editing software. Having done that, Spectral Transformer worked without a hitch and produced a full colour pan-sharpened and stretched image.

All that remains is to put it in Google Earth as an image overlay and position it appropriately. The instructions for Spectral Transformer suggest that the output image is a GeoTIF and contains the necessary positioning information, but we were unable to get that to work, so we did it manually.

The result is an image that, apart from a little cloud cover, looks nearly identical to the Google Earth imagery – which of course makes sense because, as we mentioned yesterday, Google Earth at this zoom level shows an image that was created from Landsat imagery.


A Landsat 8 image imported into Google Earth looks almost identical to the default imagery.

Closer inspection reveals slight differences in crop patterns and water levels in a lake, as the image is of a different date than the Google Earth imagery. If you zoom in any further Google Earth switches to Digital Globe imagery.


Left: Imported Landsat 8 image. Right: Google Earth default image (also from Landsat).


The resolution of Landsat 8 imagery is only 15m for the Panchromatic band and even worse for the colour bands. You can make out larger ships and the football stadium, but individual houses or cars cannot be distinguished.

So, in conclusion, it is relatively easy to get Landsat imagery into Google Earth, but nevertheless probably not worth the effort unless you have a specific reason for doing so. If there was a particular event that was visible at 15m resolution (large wildfires or volcanic eruptions, for example) that happened to coincide with a Landsat 8 pass of that location, then it might be worth it. It could also be useful for looking at large scale vegetation cover changes over time, but if you want to compare more than one or two images, then consider using Google Earth Engine, which not only provides a wealth of tools and computing power specially designed for analysing Landsat imagery, but you might find someone has already done the analysis you are interested in. Another possible reason for getting Landsat imagery into Google Earth is that there may be interesting things to find in the non-visible colour bands that are not part of the current Google Earth imagery.

The image created by Spectral Transformer was 173MB, but we have compressed it with jpeg compression down to 23MB so that you can try it out if you wish, using this KML file.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Earth’s ‘background’ imagery

jeu 23-07-2015

As we have discussed before Google Earth shows different imagery depending on the zoom level and whether or not you are in ‘historical imagery’ mode. We have also talked about how the ocean bathymetry data changes in ‘historical imagery’.

When you are looking at the whole globe in ‘default’ mode, the imagery used for the land was cleverly created by taking Landsat imagery captured over a period of time and automatically removing cloud and snow cover by combining multiple images of each spot. As you zoom in, this transitions to higher resolution satellite or aerial imagery. For much of the world, the individual satellite images or patches of aerial imagery can be identified by means of the ‘historical imagery feature’. However, there are some ‘background’ sets of imagery that are not at first obvious.

If you view the whole globe in ‘historical imagery’ and move the time slider all the way to the left, the image you will see, looks very similar to the Landsat imagery seen in the zoomed out ‘default’ mode. However, this image is a different one and the attribution shows NASA as the provider. It is most likely MODIS data, which comes from Nasa’s Terra and Aqua spacecraft. Now, still in ‘historical imagery’, if you move the timeslider all the way to the right, all the satellite and aerial imagery found in ‘historical imagery’ gets superimposed on top of the background image. However, because the background image is such low resolution it is fairly easy to see where it shows through and there is no other satellite or aerial imagery available to date. If you find one such location, zoom right in, and then switch back to ‘default’ mode instead of the NASA imagery, for most parts of the world, Google Earth shows imagery attributed to CNES/Spot image. This is imagery that has been obtained via an agreement with Spot Image that we first reported on in 2007 when the imagery was first added in parts of Europe. Since then, most of the rest of the world has obtained similar imagery.

None of these ‘background image’ sets have any dates associated with them, nor, as far as we are aware, are they noted on Google’s Imagery update maps when they receive updates.

Left: Landsat imagery as seen in ‘default mode’ when zoomed out. Right: NASA imagery (probably MODIS data) as seen when in ‘historical imagery’ mode.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google gets altitude wrong and drowns a city

mer 22-07-2015

Thank you to GEB reader ‘jonahtornado’ for letting us know that Google appears to have got the altitude wrong in the 3D for the Italian city of Crotone. If looked at in Google Earth with the ‘Water Surface’ turned on it appears to be underwater.

It is actually not uncommon for 3D imagery to have a slight difference in altitude between it and the Google Earth default terrain, which results in a visible step at the edge of 3D regions in some places. Being near the coast, however, has resulted in most of the city being below sea level, which makes for quite an interesting effect. For best results turn on “Use photorealistic atmosphere rendering” found in Tools -> Options.


Use this KML file to fly straight there in Google Earth.


The ‘cliff’ where the 3D imagery meets default terrain is about 30m high.

According to our KML file the above 3D imagery was added to Google Earth in December 2014.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

The complex borders of Baarle-Nassau and Baarle-Hertog

mar 21-07-2015

We recently watched this interesting YouTube video about the complicated borders between Belgium and the Netherlands. Baarle-Hertog is a municipality of Belgium which consists of 24 separate exlaves inside the Netherlands. To add to the complexity, there are 7 enclaves of the Netherlands municipality of Baarle-Nassau contained within the exclaves.

For an excellent explanation of what exclaves and enclaves are and many more examples of them see this excellent YouTube video and its second part. We have created this KML file
of some of the more interesting places from those videos.

The aerial imagery in the Baarle-Nassau / Baarle-Hertog area is not quite good enough to see the border markings, but you can see them in Street View as well as flags marking which country is which.


This house is in both Belgium and the Netherlands. That line of ‘+’s running through the front door is the border. It has two addresses, 2 Loveren, Baarle-Hertog marked on the left side of the door, and 19 Loveren, Baarle-Nassau marked on the right. Google Earth was only able to find the Baarle-Nassau address.


Flags marking the border. The nearest flag is, we think, a flag of Flanders marking the Netherlands side of the border, then there is a Belgian flag on the Belgian side and then an EU flag for good measure. The purple flowers also mark the border, which zig-zags through the garden.

The post The complex borders of Baarle-Nassau and Baarle-Hertog appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Converting Google Maps Street View URLs to KML

lun 20-07-2015

Google Maps Classic has been discontinued, and with it old URLs that pointed to Street View are no-longer working, including some in old posts on GEB. So we decided to write a bit of JavaScript to convert between Google Maps URL formats to aid in updating the broken links to the newer version of Google Maps. This required figuring out the various Google Maps URL formats.

We thought this would be a good opportunity to create a converter from Google Maps URLs to KML. In Google Earth there is a ‘View in Google Maps’ button, but no corresponding button exists in Google Maps for the reverse process. We have mentioned in the past that it is often difficult to find underwater Street View or aerial Street View in Google Earth. Google’s new ‘Street View highlights’ layer has made it a lot easier to find some locations. But for a random Street View location, the only way to find it in Google Earth is to search for the latitude and longitude, enter Street View and then try and find the same view.


It is difficult to get from the above location in Google Maps Street View to the same location in Google Earth as seen below.

So here is our first attempt at a converter from Google Maps Street View, to Google Earth. The script takes into account which direction you are looking in the Street View, but currently ignores the zoom. There are a few short comings with the process. Firstly, Google Earth does not have historical Street View, so if you start with an historical Street View URL you will instead see the most current Street View at that location. Secondly, it only seems to work with true Street View. If you try a user contributed PhotoSphere Google Earth will not display it.

Find a location you are interested in using Google Maps Street View then copy and paste the URL into the field below then click ‘Download KML’.

Google Maps Street View URL:

Download KML


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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

3D cities layer: another look

ven 17-07-2015

Last month in celebration of the ten year anniversary of Google Earth, Google added some new layers under the heading ‘Voyager’. We already had a look at the new ‘3D cities’ layer last week. However, as we showed you with the ‘Satellite imagery updates’ layer, it is possible to download the layer data and import it into excel for further analysis. So today, we are doing that for the ‘3D cities’ layer. Specifically, we are interested in the population figures that are displayed in the popups.

First, we need to point out that we do not know how accurate the population figures provided are. We do not know what sources Google uses for population data. Also, we do not know to what extent the population figures correspond to the actual areas covered with 3D. There are four locations with a population of zero: two football stadiums in Brazil, Black Rock City in the US and Arches National Park in the US. There were also twenty small towns in the US with a stated population of 333. This suggests they were merely estimated. Similar patterns occur elsewhere such as three towns in Bulgaria each having a population of 6,699.


Buenos Aires, Argentina, has the largest single population figure, but this isn’t necessarily the largest population covered by a single 3D mesh, as many places have multiple triangles per mesh.

Given the above caveats here are the population figures by continent:

#areasTable td, #areasTable th{ text-align: right; font-size:smaller } #areasTable th{padding-left:14px; font-weight:bold} #areasTable td:first-child ,#areasTable th:first-child{ text-align: left;padding-left:0px; }

Continent Population % of total Africa 1,730,976 0.5 Australia 5,980,800 1.6 Asia 33,584,272 9.3 South America 39,630,909 10.9 Europe 133,978,334 36.9 North America 147,810,132 40.8 Total 362,715,423

 

Note that South Africa is the only country represented in Africa and Japan is the only country represented in Asia. Australia and New Zealand are counted in the continent of Australia.

Here are the figures by country:

Country Population Ireland 33,262 Serbia 37,804 Luxembourg 77,853 Montenegro 140,997 Greece 161,068 New Zealand 776,234 Netherlands 873,576 Portugal 914,069 Sweden 925,027 Croatia 1,070,016 Finland 1,154,431 Denmark 1,722,610 South Africa 1,730,976 Norway 1,862,483 Czech Republic 2,445,534 Switzerland 2,640,162 Poland 2,683,702 Belgium 2,707,986 Bulgaria 2,759,257 Austria 2,849,803 Hungary 3,268,712 Romania 4,740,262 Australia 5,204,566 Chile 5,787,730 Argentina 12,704,129 Spain 15,687,278 Canada 16,196,329 France 17,242,280 Mexico 18,493,719 United Kingdom 20,589,299 Brazil 21,139,050 Germany 21,412,939 Italy 25,977,924 Japan 33,584,272 United States 113,120,084 Total 362,715,423

 
Japan is the second largest, which is not surprising when you realise that Tokyo alone is listed as having a population of over 8 million.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Problems with water in Google Earth 3D

jeu 16-07-2015

As Google continues rolling out 3D imagery one outstanding problem that they don’t seem to have been able to resolve is what to do about water. The cause of the problem is quite simple – water usually doesn’t stand still. Google’s 3D imagery is generated via a process called stereophotogrammetry, which involves taking multiple images from different angles and then working out the 3D shape of the landscape. However, if something moves or changes between images then the technique fails. Google has improved the way it deals with moving vehicles, as we noted when looking at New York, but they don’t yet seem to have found a way to deal with water.


What should be a relatively calm river, turns into a dangerous canyon.

The problem mostly occurs along rivers and shorelines. Away from the shore, Google turns off the 3D altogether and instead we can observe interesting ghosting effects where multiple images of boats and ships are merged together.


Here we can see four images were captured in close succession.They must be captured from slightly different angles, although it is hard to tell. Remember that both the camera and the boat are moving.


In some cases it is difficult to count how many images there are.


For some reason sports fields often also have a problem. It has something to do with the large area of uniform colour.

Google puts extra effort into particular buildings and bridges, often with fairly detailed modelling and excellent results. We suggest they consider also spending a bit of time flattening out the water, as it would greatly improve the imagery.

To see the locations featured in this post in Google Earth, download this KML file. You can, however, find examples of the problem almost anywhere where there is 3D and water.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Time-lapse videos from Himawari-8

mer 15-07-2015

Google Maps Mania recently had an interesting post about time-lapse videos of Earth from space captured by a Japanese weather satellite named Himawari-8. Check them out on the Himawari-8 website here. In addition to the time-lapse videos, the website’s homepage features a near real-time view of the earth. In addition, you can scroll through images for the past week. There are two possible views selectable from the menu at the top left. There is a view of just the Japan region with images every two and a half minutes and a view of the whole globe with images taken at 10 minute intervals.


View from Himawari-8 at noon. The time shown is Japan time (UTC +9).

It is important to note, however, that Himiwari-8 is a geostationary satellite and so it always has the same view of the earth, which in this case is centred above the equator to the south of Japan. Geostationary satellites have the advantage of being able to monitor a single view continuously. In addition, geostationary orbits are so high (35,786 km approx.) that it is possible to take an image of the whole world at once (from a particular angle). Most high resolution imaging satellites, such as those that provide most of the imagery for Google Earth, are in much lower orbits (typically 400 – 600 km) and travel at such fast speed that they can only view a particular location for a few minutes, as we saw with the UrtheCast videos. They still fly over the same location on earth once a day or more, so longer term time-lapses are still possible.

Google Earth’s weather layer includes a near real-time cloud layer that comes from weather satellites similar to the Japanese one. If you check the ‘information’ sub-layer of the weather layer you can download a 24 hour animation of the clouds viewable in Google Earth.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Amtrak train derailment and other new imagery

mar 14-07-2015

Yesterday we looked to Google Earth’s new layer that shows satellite and aerial imagery updates. However, it is important to note that Google has continued to add new imagery to Google Earth since that layer was added and they have not yet updated the layer nor updated their map.

So, we thought we would have a look at some of the more interesting imagery we have found so far.

On the 12th of May, 2015, an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia, USA killing 8 people and injuring over 200. The train was going in excess of the speed limit for the track, but it appears that it is not yet known why that was the case. For more, see the Wikipedia page.


The image is a bit cloudy, but it was captured the day following the accident, and you can see the rail cars. Check older imagery to see the layout of the tracks in the area.

On May 18th, 2015 a landslide tore through a valley near Salgar, Colombia. The older imagery for the area is black & white and not very good quality, but if you compare various spots along the river, you can see that the river has carved out a much larger channel than was there before, taking houses and trees along with it.

The above locations were found using DigitalGlobe’s FirstLook map. Another image from the FirstLook map that is in Google Earth is Waisak Day, an event in Indonesia in which twenty thousand Buddhists were expected to celebrate at Borobudur Temple. The image was captured on the day, but we were unable to identify anything of particular interest.

We also spotted some imagery of Lynchburg, Virginia captured on May 4th and 6th, 2015. The second is a black & white image, strongly suggesting that there was something of interest around those dates. Can any of our readers identify what it was?

Thank you to GEB reader Sladys for identifying the reason for the black & white image of Paris that we mentioned in our new layer suggestion post last week. It shows the Quarterfinals in the French Open at Roland Garros albeit half covered in cloud.

To view all the locations mentioned in this post in Google Earth download this KML file

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Satellite imagery updates layer: another look

lun 13-07-2015

A couple of weeks ago we had a look at Google Earth’s new ‘Satellite imagery updates’ layer. One notable feature of the new layers is that they can be put into your ‘My Places’ and then exported to KML. Previously, Google would release update maps via a Google map. Although it was possible to view it in Google Earth, there was no way to save it as KML. Today, we are having a look at what sort of things can be done when you have direct access to the data.

In our previous post on this layer we used this website to extract the areas of the different images and then used MS Excel to work out the total areas of the new imagery by continent:

#areasTable td, #areasTable th{ text-align: right; font-size:smaller } #areasTable th{padding-left:14px; font-weight:bold} #areasTable td:first-child ,#areasTable th:first-child{ text-align: left;padding-left:0px; }

Continent Area (sq. km) Asia 342,988 North America 314,332 Africa 125,841 Europe 100,481 South America 43,019 Australia 20,346 Oceans & Islands 6,098 Total 953,104

 
Another thing we can do is get the dates of the imagery into Excel. To do this, we exported each continent as a KML file, renamed them to *.xml and then opened them in Excel as XML files. We then combined them into one spreadsheet.

Now we can find out which is the oldest and newest image in the collection. The oldest is a strip of imagery captured on November 5th 2010, in Tibet, China. This is one of many old images in the region that were added by Google to help aid workers in the region in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake. The newest is a pair of images captured on June 5th, 2015, in Hunan Province, China.

We can also get a better overall picture of the age of the imagery by counting the images by year:

Year # of images 2010 4 2011 6 2012 19 2013 16 2014 41 2015 767

 
and breaking 2015 down into months:

Month # of images January, 2015 1 February, 2015 5 March, 2015 19 April, 2015 259 May, 2015 459 June, 2015 24

 
Another fun thing we can do is reproduce the KML colour coded by date. We had to figure out how to export XML from Excel, and with a little help with the colour scheme from this site we were able to produce this KML file. So download it now and try it out!

We would love it if Google were to include in the metadata the imagery provider and whether it is satellite imagery or aerial imagery.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Pluto in Google Earth

ven 10-07-2015

NASA’s New Horizons mission is approaching Pluto with its closest approach expected this coming Tuesday, July 14th. For the exact time, see the countdown clock on NASA’s New Horizons mission page.

Although the spacecraft is still a long way from Pluto, it is already capturing imagery that is of higher resolution than anything before seen. NASA has recently released the latest map of Pluto created from New Horizons imagery. In addition, NASA has made it available as a KMZ so you can view it in Google Earth. For best results, turn off all layers. The current map only shows the near side of Pluto, which is all that can be seen by the spacecraft, but NASA hopes to map the far side as well once the spacecraft passes Pluto. They say they will be updating the map as new data is obtained, so save it in your ‘My Places’ and keep checking back.


Pluto as seen using Google Earth.

We have in the past shown you how to see Google Earth as other planets such as Mercury and even as the Sun.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Indian cities may soon start to go 3D

jeu 09-07-2015

A recent story in the news is that the Government of India is currently in discussions with Google over allowing Google to capture and publish 3D imagery of Indian cities. As we have often noted, 3D imagery in Asia is sorely lacking and India would be a good place to start to rectify that.

India has long had a somewhat cautious relationship with Google Earth and Street View. They have the usual privacy concerns as well as a desire to censor certain sensitive locations. India is not unique in either regard. Many European countries have had concerns about Street View, and Germany has largely rejected it, with only a few locations in Germany currently being covered. Censorship of imagery is also widespread, with Europe having some of the more noticeable censorship. We have even noted a number of cases of censorship of Google’s 3D imagery, with pixelation being used in some areas in Greece and whole areas simply being left out of the 3D, as is the case in Barcelona.

India, however, has gradually been allowing Street View at various tourism destinations and it is believed that whole cites such as Hyderabad may soon get city wide coverage.


Mumbai, India. Indian cities do have some of the old type of 3D models, but they would be greatly improved with Google’s new 3D mesh.

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New Google Earth layers suggestion: What’s that image?

mer 08-07-2015

Over the last few posts we have been having a look at Google Earth’s new layers that make up the new ‘Voyager’ layer:
‘Satellite imagery updates’ layer
‘Earth View landscapes’ layer
‘Street View highlights’ layer
‘3D cities’ layer

Today, we would like to suggest a new layer to Google that would fit well in the Voyager layer. The new layer we are thinking of would feature Placemarks around the world highlighting interesting things that can be seen in specific images. We are not thinking of the sort of things that Google Earth users can find for themselves and make collections of, as such collections already exist on the Google Earth Community, which already has its own layer (found in the Gallery layer). Instead, we are thinking of particular events for which satellite or aerial imagery was specially captured, but may not at first be obvious to the casual user.

Google adds imagery to Google Earth for two basic reasons. The first and most common, is to improve coverage and provide a history of coverage with ‘historical imagery’. The second is when there is something of particular interest in the imagery. This type of imagery is often fairly easy to pick out, as it consists of poor quality imagery, such as containing high levels of cloud cover, or being in black and white, and often there will be a number of images of a particular place over a short space of time.

The best examples of this type of imagery are the images showing tornado damage in the USA. For examples see this post and you can find the locations in Google Earth using this KML file.

We have found other examples by using DigitalGlobe’s ‘First Look’ coverage map. However, it can be quite tedious to find each location in Google Earth and then check whether Google has obtained the specific imagery.


A black & white image featuring the Isle of Wight Festival on June 11th, 2015 – discovered via DigitalGlobe’s first look map

We recently came across an image of Paris, captured on June 3rd, 2015. The image is in black & white and has high levels of cloud cover. We strongly suspect it contains something of particular interest, but we don’t know what. Google, however, presumably knows what is to be seen in the imagery they add. Otherwise they wouldn’t be adding poor quality imagery to the database.

So, to give an example of a few of the types of Placemarks we would expect to see in such a layer, see this KML file.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

New Google Earth layers: 3D Cities

mar 07-07-2015

Last week, in honour of Google Earth’s 10 year anniversary, Google added a new collection of layers known as Voyager. We have already had a look at the ‘Satellite imagery updates’ layer, the ‘Earth View landscapes’ layer, and the ‘Street View highlights’ layer. Today we are looking at the ‘3D cities’ layer.

The new ‘3D cities’ layer shows the locations where Google Earth has the automatically generated 3D mesh that Google has been rolling out since 2012. In the past, it was difficult to find which areas had the new 3D. There was a list maintained on Wikipedia but there was no way to view it as a KML in Google Earth. So last September we at GEB created a KML with the outlines of the areas with 3D. We have since maintained it, thanks to the help of GEB readers, who spot new imagery and let us know in the comments of this post. Most of the hard work of outlining the newly discovered areas is being done by GEB reader Anton Rudolfsson. Also thanks to an idea from Anton, we display the imagery colour coded by when it was first discovered (which roughly corresponds to when it was first added by Google), so you can get an idea of how progress is going and also spot the latest additions easily.

Google Earth users who are not readers of GEB, or have not seen our KML, may be surprised by the new layer, as most users do not realize just how much 3D Google has managed to generate or how widespread around the globe it is. Having said that, coverage in Africa and Asia is still sorely lacking, although South Africa did recently start getting coverage.

It is not immediately obvious, but the new layer features two different icons. There are filled in triangles with a point at the top, which indicate ‘Existing coverage’, and triangles with just an outline with the point at the bottom which indicate ‘Latest updates’. Note that this does not necessarily correspond to the age of the actual imagery.


We do like the heat map effect Google has managed to achieve with the new layer.


The GEB maintained version has more information, for those interested in getting into the details. Download our KML file here.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

The Tour de France 2015 in Google Earth

lun 06-07-2015

In past years (2014, 2013, 2012, 2011), we have referred you to CyclingTheAlps.com for maps of the Tour de France. However, it doesn’t seem to have the 2015 Tour.

The official site has a very basic map of the overall tour, and more detailed maps for each individual Stage, but it does not have an option to export to KML.

Thank you to GEB reader Chris, for letting us know about this article on velowire.com which does include a KML of the tour (scroll down to the end of the article to find the KML).

The Tour de France runs from Saturday July 4th to Sunday July 26th, 2015.


The elevation profile of Stage 20, which takes place in the Alps.

Once you have the map in Google Earth, you can easily get the elevation profiles of any stage. Simply right click on any of the coloured lines and select ‘Show Elevation Profile’. As we have mentioned in the past, elevation profiles are only as accurate as Google Earth’s elevation data and also tend to fail to take into account tunnels and bridges. Nevertheless, they can give you a good idea as to how much work the cyclists will have to do in a particular Stage.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones