Google Earth Blog
We get emails from time to time from users that would like to submit their own imagery to Google Earth. As Frank mentioned a few weeks ago, Google has a program called the “Imagery Partner Program” to help communities who want to submit their own aerial (or satellite) imagery of their community to Google for inclusion in the maps.
You can use this program to send in your own imagery (whether pre-existing, or have new imagery taken) and submit it through this program. In addition, you can submit older imagery and it will be added to the historical imagery layer, so submitting multiple instances over time is encouraged.
To get started, read the details on Google’s Imagery Partner Program page. If you submit noteworthy imagery that ends up in Google Earth, contact us and let us know about it, and perhaps we can feature it in a future post.
Today is Earth Day, a time to sit back and think about our wonderful planet, and some of us will be out picking up some trash, or just enjoying nature.
For those of you stuck inside due to weather, work, or other reasons – perhaps you might want to spend the day exploring our wonderful planet through the power of Google Earth. Here are a few links of stories from Google Earth Blog in the past year describing environmental related content available for viewing in Google Earth:
- Using Google Earth to prove a case of illegal waste dumping
- Giving a “pulse” to the Colorado River
- Using Google Earth to predict sea level rise
- Explore the Colorado River in Google Earth
- Viewing the GEBCO Global Ocean Map in Google Earth
- The Topography of Plate Tectonics in Google Earth
- View global warming trends with this new tool from UEA CRU
- Viewing the polar vortex in Google Earth
While it will be a long time before we see a live version of Google Earth, as Frank recently explained, there are some places where small scale real-time imagery is starting to come out.
The most recent example is in Compton, California, where they can monitor a 25 square mile area for six hours at a time thanks to a company called Persistent Surveillance Systems(PSS).
PSS attaches high-resolution cameras to aircraft that fly around and stream the imagery back to the ground. You can learn quite a bit more about it in this video or by reading this blog post on Gizmodo.
The post Police working on a “live Google Earth” to monitor small areas appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
The Google Earth Flight Simulator is one of those features that many people overlook. Here are some tips to make the most of it.
With the the release of Google Earth 4.2 back in 2007, Google added a much-requested feature to the product; a flight simulator. To try it out for yourself, simply go to [Tools] –> [Enter Flight Simulator] and dive in!
Not long after it came out, Frank posted a list of tips and tricks for using the simulator, as it can be a bit tricky to get started.
- Start up the flight simulator as described above. I recommend you choose the SR-22 plane to start (it is a much slower plane than the F-16, and will help you learn the controls). Choose any airport, or just the default “Katmandu”. If you don’t have a joystick, you can’t select one. Next hit Start flight.
- You will see the HUD (Head Up Display) in green (click here for a guide to the HUD indicators). Make your window dimension roughly square (otherwise you may not see all of the HUD display elements).
- To get started, hold down the Page Up key briefly (this will add power to your plane). The throttle indicator is on the lower left (triangle should be at the top for full throttle).
- To control your direction on the ground, use the comma and period keys on your keyboard to apply left and right brakes. Just touch them briefly to change direction left and right.
- Important tip – mouse control – it’s best to use the mouse to control the plane (unless you have a joy stick). I wouldn’t bother with trying to fly with the keyboard. Simply click the mouse once in the center of the view and you should see your cursor change to a “+” sign. Don’t move your cursor outside the window or you will lose control! The mouse will only control your plane in the air, and if the cursor is inside the Google Earth window.
- Taking off – Once your plane is going faster down the runway, try moving the mouse back slightly from center. If you’re going fast enough you should take off. Remember: just make small motions with the mouse close to the center of the screen. Once you have the wings level, put the mouse in the center. A lot of first time fliers have a tendency to over correct.
- To make a turn – move the mouse slightly to the right or left and when your plane is tilted, pull back slightly. When you’ve made the turn you want, push the mouse back to the center then the other direction to tilt the plane back to level.
- Pausing – If you want to stop for a moment, simply hit the space key on the keyboard and it will pause the simulator. Hit space again to resume.
- Start higher – Position your view in Google Earth in the normal mode so you are at least 30,000 feet above ground. Tilt your view so you are looking at the horizon. Then restart the flight simulator mode (use Tools->Enter Flight Simulator…, or the keyboard shortcut CTRL-ALT-A) so you can choose what plane to use, and other options. Choose Select your start position->Current view in the window, and then choose Start flight. You should add power by hitting the Page Up key after starting it up. Now you can practice flying a while before you hit the ground!
- Landing – it is possible to land the plane. But, I’ll leave that for advanced tutorials.
Your other great option for flight in Google Earth is Xavier Tassin’s amazing GE Flight Simulator site, powered by the Google Earth Plugin. It’s quite an amazing site with dozens of aircraft to choose from (including paragliders and hot air balloons), real-time weather, and live multi-player (see other users flying around near you).
It also has a creative multimonitor mode, for those of you with more than one screen that are looking for a more immersive experience. You can try it yourself right now at gefs-online.com.
We’ve shared a lot of articles from Google Sightseeing over the years. They do a great job of choosing an interesting topic and then digging in deep. Their recent article from Ian Brown on the subject of Airship Hangars is no different.
Hundreds of hangars were building airships in the last century, though most of them are gone now. The earliest building, Hangar Y at Chalais Meudon outside Paris, is not only intact but is actually in 3D in Google Earth:
Here is Ian’s take on Hangar Y:
Hangar Y was built in 1879 on what was then a military base. It is 70m long, 24m wide and 20m high (230′ x 78′ x 65′), although additional structures have since been added on both sides. It was originally a pavilion at the Paris exhibition, but was moved to house the airship La France. It later served for several decades as a museum and was used by painter Marc Chagall when he was working on large ceiling panels for an opera house.
The article goes into great detail about many of the hangars around the world, and I encourage you to read the full entry. In addition, as they usually do, they’ve also release a KML file to help you follow along.
Great work, Ian!
It appears that Google has pushed out a fresh batch of imagery. Thanks to sharp-eyed GEB readers ‘Jonah’, ‘Munden’, ‘Andreas’ and ‘Horvath’ for letting us know.
The new imagery can already be found in Google Maps, making difficult to know for sure what is new and what is old, but here is a list areas that we know were just updated:
- United States: Alabama (Decatur, Huntsville), California (Oxnard, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica), Connecticut (Brideport, New Haven), Florida (Cape Canaveral), Maryland (Sharpsburg), Missouri (Joplin, St. Louis), New Mexico (Bisti Badlands), New York (Rochester), Oregon (Crater Lake), South Carolina (Charleston), Tennessee (Murfreesboro, Nashville), West Virginia (Harpers Ferry)
- Yemen: Shaharah
If you find any other updated areas, please leave a comment and let us know!
NPR’s The Salt recently took a look at Chicago and the many “hidden farms” that can be found on rooftops around the city.
Researcher John Taylor from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign spent 400 hours over the course of eight months researching these gardens to determine where the gardens were and which ones were actually producing food. The result was a total of 4,648 sites, covering more than 65 total acres.
“Urban agriculture is sometimes thought of as something new and trendy, but of course people have been growing food in backyards and on vacant land for generations,” Taylor says. “From a planning and policy perspective, we have to consider food production at multiple scales.” Taylor’s data is helping another effort aimed at documenting all of the city’s agricultural sites: the Chicago Urban Agriculture Mapping Project.
You can read more for yourself by checking out the full article on the NPR site. I was able to track down the screenshot above by finding it via the story, and you can view that area for yourself in Google Earth by loading this KML file.
Three years ago we told you about the effort to rebuild L’Aquila in 3D following a major earthquake in 2009. Graziano Di Crescenzo has an Italian blog about Google Earth and is very passionate about the product. He is in L’Aquila and is using Google Earth to keep people informed of the state of L’Aquila five years after the quake.
His new website, Hello L’Aquila shows the earthquake damaged central italian city of L’Aquila five years after the earthquake of April 6, 2009. Visitors can walk through the streets and squares of the city and inside some of its buildings using hundreds of user generated streetview images.
In Graziano’s words:
Over the course of three months, innumerable journeys were made through the streets of L’Aquila and to capture more than 400 panoramic images covering the entire historic city centre. These images were geopositioned and loaded into Google Maps, approved by Google and connected together to create a single network which allows visitors to the site to move freely through the earthquake damaged city.
All of the other images of the city centre of L’Aquila date back to August 2008 (prior to the earthquake) with a single recent update in 2011 covering the main square and a part of the main central street. Now, instead, it is possible to visit the entire city centre in its current state. The intention behind the project is to keep the panoramas up to date reflecting changes in the city.
Graziano worked with his friends Matteo Faraone, Barnaby Gunning and Massimo Prosperococco to bring the project to life. It’s quite an impressive project, and I encourage you to go check it out at www.hellolaquila.it.
We’ve talked about Meograph a variety of times over the past few years. They have an excellent tool that combines Google Earth with storytelling, and it can be a great way to supplement a story with geographic context.
The design of the site has always been solid, but their latest refresh really makes it much better. The new design is much more visual, intuitive, and mobile friendly in an effort to make consumer content creation for brands even easier.
There aren’t any new features with this release, but we felt that the refresh alone was worth mentioning since so many of you use the tool. Look for some new features from them later this year, and go try out the new interface at meograph.com.
The post Meograph redesigns their application with a fresh new look appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
While Google Earth offers imagery for the vast majority of the planet, there are a variety of places that are intentionally hidden for security or political reasons.
This great article on AtlasObscura.com summarizes many of these hidden areas. They include nuclear plants, air bases, important political facilities and other locations.
Google Earth began blurring or pixelating certain locations upon request. It started with governments. When the site first launched in 2005, images of the White House and the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC were blurred. (They’re not anymore, but the censored version has been replaced with outdated imagery.) Following suit, several countries have official contracts with Google to blur specific sites, among them India and Australia. Meanwhile, somewhat ingeniously, the government of Malaysia went the opposite route and realized that it would reveal its sensitive locations if they were visibly censored, so it chose to leave them unblurred.
The full article digs into more detail about the process and history of hiding imagery in Google Earth, and is well worth reading. Check it out here:
Jorge Rodriquez-Gerada is an artist that creates amazingly large pieces of art. A great example is his “WISH” installation, shown below, which took several years to complete.
Jorge has created many pieces of art around the world, and it’s likely that some can be found in the native Google Earth imagery. If you can track one down, please leave a comment and let us know. For more about Jorge and his artwork, you can visit his website at www.jorgerodriguezgerada.com.
(via Beautiful Decay)
The post The artwork of Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada in Google Earth appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
It’s a common joke that when people first open up Google Earth and can explore any place on earth, they first go and find their own house. We’ve all done it. However, even viewing your own house in Google Earth can be a great experience, as it provides a perspective that we rarely get to see.
When I took my first flying lesson 20 years ago, I remember flying over my home town and simply being lost. It was a small city and I’d lived there for years, but the perspective took me a while to grasp. A recent post on Distractify shows famous landmarks from a wider perspective, which makes many of them seem quite different.
A great example is this photo of the Pantheon of Rome, as seen from inside the McDonald’s across the way:
Another good one is this photo of The Alamo in Texas, as seen from above:
Some of the sights are certainly eye-opening. Check out their full article to see them all.
Which is your favorite?
The post The perspective from Google Earth can change the way you see things appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
A few months ago I started playing QuizUp from time to time on my phone. It’s a fast-paced trivia game that pits you against other players around the world in real-time. It has a very wide variety of categories, and you can get in and play a game in only a minute or two.
They’ve recently added a new category that many of you will find interesting: “Google Maps: Earth from Above”:
Each question will show you an aerial image and a bit of text, and you have four possible answers. As with all of the categories on QuizUp, speed is important. Go try it out and see just how good your geography skills are. You can download the app for Android or iOS.
(via Android Central)
The post Do you think you know your aerial imagery? Find out on QuizUp. appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
Back in 1973, a volcanic eruption in the western Pacific ocean caused the formation of a new island named Nishino-shima. Four months ago, a nearby eruption caused the formation of a new island named Niijima. The Niijima eruption has continued and the island has been growing and has now consumed Nishino-shima and it is continuing to grow larger.
It’s quite a look at the birth of an island. From the NASA Earth Observatory site:
The Niijima portion of the island is now larger than the original Nishino-shima, and the merged island is slightly more than 1,000 meters across. Two cones have formed around the main vents and stand more than 60 meters above sea level, triple the highest point of the island in December. Volcanic lava flows are reported to be most active now on the south end of the island.
A lot of people wonder about Google Earth imagery. Why is the image of my house so old? Why can’t I get a picture of my car accident from a month ago? Why doesn’t Google get newer pictures? This article gives a broad perspective about how Google gets the imagery and why it’s hard to get more recent imagery. It also provides you with ways to see lots more imagery built in to Google Earth by showing you where to look.
You would be surprised how many people initially think Google Earth (GE) will show imagery in real-time. Or, that surely it will only be a day or two old. I guess part of this thinking comes from watching the news deliver weather satellite photos which are only a few hours old, or spy TV shows with “live” satellite imagery (that’s pretty much science fiction except in rare expensive military operations). But, the problems of getting quality high resolution imagery are very challenging. Weather satellites are at geosynchronous orbits (36,000 km) and take low resolution imagery. High resolution satellites (e.g. those operated by commercial satellite companies like DigitalGlobe or by the government/military) operate just a few hundred kilometers above the Earth. This means they only see a small part of the Earth with their camera as they orbit over. They typically go around the Earth every 90 minutes, but only cover about 1% of the Earth on each pass – but, most of the area covered in a pass is water. Not only that, but imagery for Google Earth is only going to be good if the sun is at a high angle when the satellite goes over (fewer shadows), when there are no clouds, and as little haze/pollution as possible. Believe it or not, the times when all these factors come together are pretty rare. It can take months or years for a good quality image to be taken by satellite even if you pay lots of money!
Once the imagery is taken, it takes time to process the data before it is available to customers. Google is one of these customers (a really big one). Google has to evaluate the new imagery against the current imagery to determine whether the new is better than the current. They have computers to automate as much of this as possible. But, for important areas with large populations the process to check and verify the quality takes time. Once an image is selected, it has to be processed into the format and coordinate system of Google Earth’s databases. Then it has to go through a quality control process and fed into a processing system before it gets distributed to the live Google Earth database servers. This is one reason why you usually do not find any imagery younger than about 6 months in Google Earth and Maps. And why updates usually only happen about once every 30 days.
Not all the imagery in Google Earth comes from satellites. A lot of the imagery comes from aerial photographers – mostly in airplanes with special high resolution cameras. Some of the imagery even comes from kites, balloons, and drones. Google acquires imagery from a variety of sources. Some of the imagery is given to Google by city or state governments. The age of the imagery varies greatly, but most of the high resolution imagery is between 6 months and 5 years of age. Again, because the imagery comes from a variety of sources, the process to get this imagery into Google Earth is complex and involves a great deal of time and effort.
Another reason why you don’t find imagery that is newer is that it can cost a great deal of money to acquire quality aerial imagery. The companies who spend this money need a way to recover their costs. More recent imagery is more valuable than older imagery. As a result, these companies are reluctant to have their newest imagery available for free for anyone to view in Google Earth. Read the agreements for Google Earth before you try to use its imagery for business applications (more information). You can’t sell or use the imagery from Google Earth for business purposes without permission.
Google has been known to release much more recent imagery in GE for unique events. For example, for the 2008 Beijing Olympics Google released 2-week old imagery for the Beijing area.
However, near real-time imagery of Earth is available in Google Earth! “What?! After all that you are saying it is available?” you ask. Sure, there’s the Weather->Clouds layer. The clouds are actually taken from weather satellites and are a global picture of the clouds as recent as 3 hours old. Ok, so that’s not the kind of imagery you were thinking about?
There used to be a cool layer for Google Earth from NASA which showed the entire Earth at a medium resolution (about 250 meter resolution per pixel). The imagery was taken by the MODIS Terra satellite and was processed as quickly as possible and showed the entire Earth between 6 – 12 hours old. The imagery was continuously updating. You could see dust storms, large fires, volcanoes, haze conditions, droughts, floods, and – of course – clouds. This was the most recent, highest resolution imagery of the Earth continuously updating available to the general public, but it’s not available now. But, the resolution was too low to see things like your house or car clearly. There are a few new commercial companies launching multiple low-earth-orbit satellites in an attempt to get more near-real-time imagery of the Earth at at least medium-resolution, at an even more frequent update rate. We’ll be following these efforts closely, and hope layers to view them will appear in Google Earth.
Since Google Earth version 5, Google has the historical imagery feature, so you’re not limited to just the imagery shown by default in Google Earth. Google has archives of imagery from many sources and dates. For many places, Google has 2, 3, or even 30 different images over time for any one location (sometimes decades old). In some cases, you can even find newer imagery than the one shown by default. Usually in a case where the older imagery looks better overall than the newer. The historical imagery feature is a an amazing resource, which I encourage everyone to check out.
Let’s not forget to mention Google’s ground-level Street View imagery which is increasingly available in places all over the planet (viewable in Google Earth and Maps as well as on mobile). But, can also be months or years old for similar reasons (challenges of covering the entire planet and processing huge amounts of data).
Anyway, I hope this article helps provide a better understanding of the imagery in Google Earth and how it all works. This is a high-level overview and is based on my own observations and opinions. Feel free to comment below. (Originally posted Feb 2008)
[NOTE: The 2009 version of this article is also available in Spanish.]
We’ve seen Google generate many thousands of miles of Street View imagery over the years. From cities such as Venice, to neat places such as a corn maze, to amazing locations such as the Grand Canyon, Google’s various Street View-capturing tools seem to be able to get it all.
Now they’ve just released imagery of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia, using their popular Street View cars, the innovative trekker and other tools.
For more, here is a short video that Google made to show it off a bit more:
The post Explore the temples of Angkor Wat in Google Street View appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
We’ve shown you many of the great stories from George at MyReadingMapped over the past year or so. He creates excellent maps to help explain global issues.
His latest is regarding the recent news about the Ebola Outbreak in Guinea and Sierra Leone, and all the 2013-2014 activity in regard to MERS. He has a great Google Map of the spread of Ebola outbreaks from 1976-2014 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) Outbreaks.
For more, he also has maps on [Severe Ache Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)](http://myreadingmapped.blogspot.com/2012/01/the-worldwide-outbreak-of-sars-2002-2003.html], Mad Cow Disease and the U.S. Meningitis Outbreak of 2012.
Great work, George!
We saw some amazing new Google Earth-related stories in March, and here are some of my favorites.
We took a look at the latest release of SketchUp and the new version of the 3D Warehouse.
George at MyReadingMapped dug into the topography of plate tectonics.
We saw this remarkable image of a river that moves like a snake as its path adjusts over the course of 28 years.
Along with much of the earth, we looked at possible outcomes in the disappearance of flight MH370.
We looked at some remarkable projections of sea level rise in the next 2000 years, using Google Earth to show the possible results on various historic sites.
We showed you some Google Earth-inspired carpets from Roosmarijn Pallandt.
We dug into the fake “story” of Gemma Sheridan being trapped on a desert island and being found because of Google Earth.
We showed you how a few groups in Ohio used Google Earth to prove a case of illegal dumping in the Ohio river.
We showed you some of the first imagery from the landslide in Oso, Washington, provided by NASA.
We took a look at Eric Stitt’s latest post, this one covering great use cases for the Google Earth overlay tool.
What was your favorite story from March?
Last week we showed you some imagery from the landslide in Oso, Washington and this week we’re back with a few overlays from James Baker that help explain things a bit more.
James has created two overlays; one that shows the outline of the extent of the previous landslide, and one that shows the source of the recent slide and run-out areas.
In addition, he’s created a simple KMZ file that shows the Devils Mountain fault running directly through the affected area. You can download that KMZ here, and see a screenshot of it below.
Great work, James!
A few months ago we took a look at some of Eric Stitt’s work on genealogy on his blog, and he continues to produce very useful tips. His latest post goes into detail about Overlays, which can be useful to Google Earth users of all levels.
In researching his past, overlays can be a very valuable tool as he explains here:
I have used overlay for flying routes, shipping lanes, and mostly used for plat maps. I love plat maps, it’s like my little window to the past. You can take a plat map, stretch it over the township your ancestors lived in and then use that to figure out where things from the past laid in today’s land. For instance, how many times have you see a old farm field turn into a subdivision? What I have done is place that plat map over the township and then used placemarkers to mark the Church, School, and Cemetery and then my polygons to mark the farm.