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Mis à jour : il y a 2 min 12 sec

Schiaparelli’s resting place and other Mars residents

il y a 1 heure 12 min

Last week a joint mission between the European Space Agency (ESA) and Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) attempted to land on Mars. The landing was not successful and the lander, named Schiaparelli, crash landed on the planet.

NASA released these ‘before and after’ photos of the landing site captured by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) showing what is believed to be the parachute (white spot) and landing spot (dark patch).

We thought this would be a good time to see what other Mars landers / rovers can be seen in Google Mars or MRO imagery.


The rover Curiosity has particularly good coverage. We already managed to find it in an image from March 30th, 2016, which we showed you last week in this post. However, there is also good imagery of its landing area, including an image of it while still descending by parachute!

Top Left: Sky Crane. Top Right: Parachute on ground. Bottom Left: Rover on ground, 24 hours after landing. Bottom Right: Descent by parachute.

Also see here for a time-lapse of the parachute blowing about in the wind.


The rover Opportunity is not far from Schiaparelli’s crash site, but far enough that it probably could not get there to investigate.

In this image from August 26th, 2016, Opportunity just looks like a rock.

The location above was identified with the help of this thread which keeps track of Opportunity.

Top Left: Parachute. Top Right: Landing base. Bottom Left: Heat shield. Bottom Right: Track and multiple images of rover.

The rover Spirit is no longer active, but we can see it in its final resting place as well as its parachute, lander and heat shield.

Top Left: Parachute. Top Right: Landing base. Bottom Left: Heat shield. Bottom Right: Final resting place.

The Pheonix Lander has good imagery in Google Mars showing the heat shield, the back shell, the parachute and the lander.

Top Left: Lander, Top Right: Heat Shield, Bottom right: back shell and parachute.

Beagle 2
The very best image of the Beagle 2 is these two white dots:

Also seen here in colour. Its parachute and rear cover are equally difficult to make out, but we have marked their locations in the KML file.

The above are just some of the residents of Mars. We will continue with the rest next week.

See the imagery and placemarks in Google Mars with this KML file.

Don’t forget to turn on Google Mars’s ‘Landers/Rovers’ layer for extra imagery, tracks, panoramas, 3D models and more.

To be continued …..

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Avalanches in Tibet

mer 26-10-2016

On July 17th, 2016 there was a very large avalanche in the Aru Mountains of Tibet. This was followed by a second avalanche on 21st September, 2016. Planet Labs captured some imagery of the location of the second event and have created an excellent before and after, which you can find here.

For a more detailed analysis of the events see the excellent Landslide Blog Part 1 and Part 2. The Landslide Blog also includes some before and after images of the first event, which come from this page. One is a Sentinel 2 image captured after the first avalanche, and the other is a Landsat 8 image captured before the avalanche.

Now, there is Sentinel imagery available from after the second event we can do a full sequence:

January 23rd, 2016. Copernicus Sentinel Data, 2016

July 21st, 2016. Copernicus Sentinel Data, 2016

October 16th, 2016. Copernicus Sentinel Data, 2016

We have also put the Planet Labs images and the above Sentinel images into Google Earth. To view them download this KML file. The Sentinel imagery is actually slightly higher resolution than what you see above.

The post Avalanches in Tibet appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

The fires of Qayyara, Iraq, with Landsat and Sentinel imagery

mar 25-10-2016

We recently came across this interesting article on Bellingcat which is about the use of environmental damage as a weapon of war in Iraq. As the Islamic State (IS) is being pushed back, they are setting light to oil wells, pouring oil on the streets and in trenches and setting light to it and also setting light to other industrial products such as sulphur.

The article features some Landsat imagery showing the plumes of smoke. Landsat imagery is freely available, and we have in the past created a KML file that can make animations with Landsat imagery. If you download the KML file and view the animation for the area around Mosul, Iraq, you can clearly see the smoke in the last few images. Also of note, you can see some smoke from a previous event in an image from August 2014 to the north west of Mosul. We have also created animations using Sentinel 2 imagery, which you can download here.

The animations above are created using low resolution thumbnails provided on Amazon Web Services (AWS). To see some high resolution imagery, we downloaded the most recent Landsat-8 image and processed it with GIMP using a method similar to the one described here and here.

The result can be seen below:

Landsat 8 image from October 20th, 2016. Note the sulphur fire marked with an arrow. The black smoke is from oil fires.

For comparison, we also downloaded a Sentinel 2 image from September 14th 2016.

Sentinel 2 image from September 14th 2016. This is before the sulphur fire was started. Copernicus Sentinel Data, 2016.

See the above images in Google Earth, download this KML file.

The Bellingcat article also features an image of the sulphur fire from Planet Labs.

The post The fires of Qayyara, Iraq, with Landsat and Sentinel imagery appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Mapzen altitude tiles in Google Earth

lun 24-10-2016

A couple of weeks ago we set up a server that allows you to view the NOAA’s post Hurricane Matthew aerial imagery in Google Earth. The imagery comes from the NOAA’s map, which provides the data in tiles. For more on how tiled maps work see this post.

The experiment worked better than we expected, so today we are expanding it to use Mapzen’s altitude data, which we have previously used for drawing contour lines.

To see the results, download this KML file.

It is not perfect, and you will notice the imagery shift slightly north or south as you zoom in. This is because the tiles are in the Mercator map projection which stretches the map in the north-south direction, especially towards the poles. However, this effect is less significant as you zoom in.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Finding Curiosity with Mars HiRISE imagery in Google Earth

ven 21-10-2016

Yesterday we had a look at the track of the Curiosity rover in Google Earth. We noticed that there is some very high resolution imagery of the area. We have previously experimented with getting Mars imagery into Google Earth but did not find any imagery with such high resolution. So we decided to have another look.

It appears that there are multiple orbiters each with multiple imaging systems and each camera is managed by a different organisation. The imagery we looked at previously is from the THEMIS instrument on the orbiter Mars Global Surveyor. It appears that the highest resolution imagery comes form the HiRISE instrument on the same orbiter. We found that it is possible to access the imagery at this website which also allows access to imagery from three other instruments, CTX, MOC and CRISM.

We looked for an image in the location of Curiosity and chose this one. The image is compressed using jp2, similar to Sentinel imagery. We used a tool called Irfanview to convert it to jpg. Since it is quite a large image, we chose to crop it to the location we are interested in. We then placed the image in Google Earth using an image overlay and matched it to the imagery already available.

The image was captured on March 30th, 2016. So, we used Fernando Nogal’s KML track for curiosity that we looked at yesterday to determine where Curiosity was on that date. And sure enough, we can actually see Curiosity!

Curiosity as seen in HiRISE imagery.

This suggests that it may be possible to identify the final resting place of the Schiaparelli lander, which is currently believed to have crash landed, once imagery of its expected landing zone becomes available.

To see the image in Google Earth download this KML file.

The post Finding Curiosity with Mars HiRISE imagery in Google Earth appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

The Curiosity rover track

jeu 20-10-2016

With the recent attempted landing on Mars we thought it might be a good time to discuss another Mars inhabitant, NASA’s Curiosity rover.

GEB reader Fernando Nogal let us know about a KML file he maintains which tracks the path of Curiosity on Mars. It can be found in this thread on

Google Mars has a built-in layer showing the locations of various landers and rovers on Mars, including Curiosity and its track. However, the track displayed for Curiosity does not match up with Fernando’s version. A look at the terrain in the imagery shows that Fernando’s version is the more accurate one, as you can clearly see that Curiosity followed certain terrain features to avoid driving over obstacles. This is with the “Rovers and Landers” layer turned on, which includes some HiRISE/CTX imagery. With it turned off, the default Google Mars imagery appears to be out of alignment with both tracks.

We have not been able to identify the source of the Google Mars track, but while trying to find out more about it, we discovered this map which shows yet another version of the track, which is ever further out of alignment.

So what is going on? Our guess is that this is because Mars does not have a GPS system in place and the less accurate tracks are being determined by dead reckoning using Curiosity’s data about the directions and distances it drives whereas Fernando’s track is based on identifying features in the imagery the rover sends back.

If any of our readers knows more about this or where the Google Mars track is sourced from, please let us know in the comments.

Regarding yesterday’s landing attempt, as of this writing it appears that the orbiter managed a successful orbit insertion but the lander’s status is uncertain.

We also came across this interesting article about historical maps of Mars and how our knowledge of the red planet has improved over time. A number of the historical maps can be found in the layer “Mars Gallery->Historic Maps”. It is interesting that older maps had South at the top. Google Earth has a similar layer called “Rumsey Historical Maps” found in the “Gallery” layer that features historical maps of Earth.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Europe and Russia attempting Mars landing

mer 19-10-2016

A joint mission between the European Space Agency (ESA) and Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) is expected to land a probe on Mars today October 19th, 2016. If successful, it will be the first successful landing on Mars that was not by NASA. Many attempts have been made by various countries and there have been a number of successful orbiters and flybys. For a full list of Mars missions see this Wikipedia page.

The mission named ExoMars includes an orbiter, the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and a lander named Schiaparelli. Read more about it here.

You can watch the event live here. See here for more details on the broadcast schedule.

We used the details in this video to identify the landing area in Google Earth. You can use this KML file to view it in Google Earth. This is hand drawn based on the video and is not an official outline.

Schiaparelli’s landing zone as seen in Google Earth.

The landing zone includes the current location of NASA’s Opportunity rover.

[ Update: Also see this KML file with more detailed landing ellipses kindly provided by GEB reader Fernando Nogal. See this thread for more details. ]

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

‘Little Planets’ – Fisheye art from Google Earth imagery

mar 18-10-2016

We recently came across a post by Janis Petke who has created some beautiful pictures using Google Earth, PTGui panorama software and Photoshop.

Barcelona, Spain. ‘Little Planet’ view by Janis Petke. 3D imagery from Google Earth.

See all the images and a description of how it was done here.

Janis is not the first person to do this, and we also found this album, for example.

To learn how to make ‘Little Planets’ from panoramas see here.

If you make your own images, be sure to give proper attribution to Google Earth and if your images include imagery or mapping data from third parties, those must be attributed too. For guidelines on what you may or may not do with Google Earth imagery see these guidelines.

This reminded us of our post on changing the Field of View in Google Earth but sadly we were not able to find a way to get the full ‘Little Planet’ effect directly in Google Earth.

The post ‘Little Planets’ – Fisheye art from Google Earth imagery appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Acquisition of imagery after natural disasters improving

lun 17-10-2016

Last week Hurricane Matthews caused widespread devastation, crossing over Haiti, the Bahamas and then up the east coast of the United States. It caused direct damage from the high winds and waves, followed by severe flooding in the US, which is still ongoing. We have been impressed by the amount of imagery that has been made available. Planet Labs supplied imagery of Haiti from before the disaster to help emergency response teams. Then DigitalGlobe and Terra Bella provided imagery of Haiti, the Bahamas and the US from after the event via Google Crisis Response. And finally, NOAA has been supplying aerial imagery of the US coast and the inland flooding as the floods have progressed. You can see the satellite imagery in Google Earth with this KML file from Google Crisis Response and the NOAA aerial imagery with this KML file that we created.

As of this writing, fresh imagery continues to be added to both sets every day:

Les Irois, Haiti.

Greenville, North Carolina. October 15th, 2016. (NOAA imagery)

Kinston, North Carolina. October 15th, 2016. (NOAA imagery)

There have been several other natural disasters this year that had similarly fast responses with imagery.

In April this year, Kumamoto, Japan, experienced a series of large earthquakes. Google managed to capture aerial imagery the day after the first shock and again on the following day after subsequent, more powerful shocks. Whether Google had already been planning to capture imagery there we do not know. Google has since also updated the 3D imagery of Kumamoto.

In August this year, there was a large earthquake in central Italy. We saw some low resolution satellite imagery from Terra Bella, but there was also comprehensive aerial imagery captured almost immediately after the event organised by the Copernicus Emergency Management Service, although sadly that imagery was not made available in Google Earth.

In general, it seems like coverage of natural disasters has been improving. We believe this is due to a several factors:
– There are more satellite imaging companies, with more satellites than ever before.
– There are a number of emergency response programmes that have been getting better and better at obtaining and disseminating imagery, some of which are listed below:

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

NOAA post Hurricane Matthew imagery in Google Earth

ven 14-10-2016

Yesterday we talked about how the NOAA aerial imagery of the eastern US coast in the wake of Hurricane Matthew is available as map tiles. We investigated how to display map tiles in Google Earth and concluded that doing it with a single KMZ file would not be feasible. We also said it wouldn’t be worth setting up a server to serve the necessary KML files, but after some consideration we decided to give it a go.

Rather than generating the hundreds of thousands of KML files necessary to make it work, we realised that we could simply generate KML files dynamically as they are requested. It actually worked a lot better than we expected. We implemented it in JavaScript, initially testing it out with a local instance of Node.js running on a PC which worked very well. We then put the code on a Node.js server running in the cloud (Openshift) and it still works remarkably well.

So, to view the NOAA imagery in Google Earth, simply download this KML file. You should immediately be able to see the thin strip of imagery along the eastern coast of the US. Also note that there are a number of new patches of aerial imagery inland.

As you zoom in, it automatically loads higher resolution imagery almost as seamlessly as native Google Earth imagery. The imagery is arranged in separate layers for batches of imagery captured on different dates. Occasionally there is a problem with layers overlapping, in which case you may see grey squares mixed in with imagery. If you experience this, try turning off some of the layers until you identify which layer has the grey squares, then keep that particular layer off while viewing that location. There are also some locations such as Rocky Mount, North Carolina for example, with multiple sets of imagery captured on different days, so again, try turning off some layers to see the different sets.

The flooding is still ongoing at the time of writing, and NOAA is adding new imagery over time. We will try to keep the server up-to-date over the next few days, so try refreshing the main network-link to see if there are new layers.

Nichols, South Carolina.

Boardman, North Carolina.

Near Galivants Ferry, South Carolina.

A flooded water treatment plant near Smithfield, North Carolina.

Rocky Mount, North Carolina.

Goldsboro, Georgia.

This is just an experiment to learn about the best way to access map tiles in Google Earth. We make no guarantees about how long we will keep the server running.

If you know of any other maps available as map tiles that do not have restrictive licence agreements, let us know in the comments.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Getting tiled maps into Google Earth

jeu 13-10-2016

[ Update: See this post for a KML to view to see the NOAA imagery in Google Earth. ]

Yesterday we had a look at some aerial imagery of the eastern coast of the US after Hurricane Matthew. The imagery comes from NOAA. We wondered what it would take to get the imagery into Google Earth. The NOAA has made the imagery available for viewing on this map and also offers the option to download it. However, the total size of all the imagery is over 24 GB. Also provided is the option to view the imagery as tiled data.

Most modern online maps use a fairly standardised method of tiling the map imagery. It is a relatively simple system that involves using the Mercator map projection and cutting off above 85.0511°N and below 85.0511°S, resulting in a map of the globe that is square. This is then divided into four squares, each of which is divided into four squares and so on. Each division is a zoom level. For the full technical details see this page.

Google Earth has a mechanism for presenting tiled data that is very similar to the above process. You can take a large image overlay and break it up into tiles in such a way that Google Earth only loads the tiles that are within the view and at a suitable resolution. The result is called a ‘Super-Overlay’. Google Earth Pro even has a built-in tool for creating these automatically which you can read more about here.

We already had some basic JavaScript code for working with map tiles that we created to work with Mapzen altitude data, which is available as map tiles. We combined this with information from the KML Developers Guide and technical information about the NOAA tiles and were able to create a Super-Overlay for a small portion of the NOAA data. And it works quite well. The problem is that it doesn’t scale.

You can download our sample here. It covers a short stretch of coast near Charleston, North Carolina. A Google Earth Super-Overlay actually consists of many KML files all network-linked to each other in a hierarchical fashion. Our sample file is actually in the compressed KMZ format and includes over 10,000 files which uncompressed are over 10 Mb. Keep in mind that the KML file does not contain any imagery at all, that is all coming directly from NOAA. When we tried to create larger Super-Overlays it crashed our JavaScript as the browser ran out of memory. We could probably find ways to generate larger Super-Overlays, but there is no getting around the file size, so it is practically impossible to do a single KML file for all the NOAA imagery.

The only real alternative would be to set up a server with all the Super-Overlay files. This would probably work quite well, but running a server in this particular instance is not worth it. What would be ideal would be for Google Earth to natively support map tiles such that you could give it the details of the tile server and it would handle it from there.

NOAA imagery as seen in Google Earth. Some flooding near Charleston, North Carolina.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

More post-Hurricane Matthews imagery

mer 12-10-2016

[ Update: See this post for a KML to view to see the NOAA imagery in Google Earth. ]

On Monday we had a look at some imagery via Google Crisis Response of the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthews.

Google has since added quite a lot of new imagery to the KML file that we linked to on Monday. The KML file uses a network link, so if you still have it you should automatically see any new imagery that is added.

In addition, Google has made available on this map a large amount of aerial imagery provided by NOAA. To access it, go to the layers and select ‘Aerial Photos’. Then zoom to the eastern coast of the US and you will see a thin strip of aerial imagery all along the coast.

The NOAA imagery can also be viewed on this NOAA map, which also offers the option to download the imagery. Unfortunately, the imagery is not currently in a format easily viewed in Google Earth and Google does not currently have plans to add it to the above KML file.
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Before and After of Flagler Beach, Florida showing damage to the coastal road.

Before and After of a new inlet formed along the Florida coast. To find it on the map search for ‘Rattlesnake Island’.

Some flooded roads in Charleston, South Carolina.

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As a bonus, we get a look at Space Launch Complex 40 where SpaceX AMOS-6 mission spectacularly blew up in September.

See this article for a number of aerial and ground level photos of the damage caused by Hurricane Matthews.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Panoramio shutdown date set

mar 11-10-2016

Google has been planning to shut down panoramic photo sharing site Panoramio since September 2014. The initial plan was to merge it with Google Views which was a similar product. However, due to feedback from the Panoramio community they held off that move. Frank did an in depth post about this in June 2015. Since then Google Views itself was merged into Street View. Google has now announced that they are finally shutting down Panoramio for good. As of November 4th, 2016, they will stop allowing new photos to be uploaded or new signups. Users will still be able to access their photos for one year (until November, 2017) at which point the service will be taken offline completely. Users have the option of transferring their photos to their Google Album, and they can optionally also be shared via Google Maps.

GEB reader ‘Hiking Mike’ has written a blog post about the change and some of his concerns about the move. His three main concerns with moving to Google Maps appear to be a lack of community, poor attribution, and the fact that Google Earth doesn’t support user contributed photos.

At the current point in time, there are significantly more photos available in the Panoramio layer in Google Earth than user contributed photos in Google Maps. For areas that do not have Street View, this is quite significant. For example, we chose a location on Hainan Island, China and found just one photo in Google Maps, but a large number of photos in Google Earth’s Panoramio layer:

Hainan, China. Just one photo sphere in Google Maps.

Hainan, China. There are a lot more photos than are shown here. More icons are displayed as you zoom in.

Although Google Earth does sometimes show blue circles indicating the availability of user contributed photos in Google Maps, it is not actually possible to view them in Google Earth. Hopefully, this is something Google will address before turning off the Panoramio layer. It is likely that the Panoramio layer will continue to function in Google Earth for as long as the Panoramio servers are on, so it will probably continue to be there until November, 2017. This is just a guess, not a guarantee.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Hurricane Matthew imagery via Google Crisis Response

lun 10-10-2016

Hurricane Matthew is an extra-tropical cyclone that impacted Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, Dominican Republic and The Bahamas and as of this writing is moving along the coast of the southeastern United States causing heavy rains and consequent flooding.

The NOAA’s National Hurricane Centre provides this KML file showing the path of Hurricane Matthew.

The path of Hurricane Matthew as of October 9th, 2016.

Google Crisis response has released two maps. There is this Florida emergency preparedness map, which actually contains a variety of related information for the whole east coast of the US. Then there is this ‘Haiti Hurricane’ map, which has imagery from DigitalGlobe and Google’s Terra Bella of various parts of Haiti.

Google Crisis Response also kindly provided this KML file , which includes imagery of Haiti and the Bahamas. It is a network link so it will update as they add new imagery. As of this writing it does not include the Terra Bella imagery but they have stated that they will be adding that shortly.

As is normal for imagery gathered after natural disasters, the imagery is not the best quality but we can see that many houses have lost their roofs or worse.

Port Salut, Haiti.

Port Salut, Haiti.

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Before and after of Tiburon, Haiti.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Floods around the world as seen in Google Earth

ven 07-10-2016

Flooding is a remarkably common phenomenon around the globe. Satellite imaging companies often try to capture imagery of the floods as such imagery is useful for governments and emergency services. DigitalGlobe, for example, has its First Look program through which it captures imagery and distributes it to emergency responders. Today we are looking at a few locations that we know about via the FirstLook program and where the imagery has since made its way into Google Earth. However, none of the imagery in today’s locations really captures the full scale of the events. This is due to a number of reasons:

  • There is often no warning for floods. There may be warning for particular types of well-known weather systems such as cyclones and typhoons, or when there are heavy rains in a region the rivers downstream may be expected to flood. But even so, the severity of the flood is hard to predict.
  • Floods follow rain and there are often cloudy conditions during and shortly after a flood, so it may take some time before there are suitable conditions for capturing imagery.
  • In the case of flash floods the event is typically over before the location can be imaged, so all we can expect to see is the damage caused, such as houses or roads washed away.
  • Google only puts high quality imagery in the default layer (more on this at the end of the post).

Eastern Sudan – July / August 2016
In late July and early August there were heavy rains and subsequent flooding in eastern Sudan. According to this article tens of thousands of people were affected and thousands of homes damaged or destroyed. There is a DigitalGlobe image of the town of Sennar and surrounding areas that was captured in response to the floods. Although there is a lot of standing water in the image, we could not find any flooded houses or evidence of houses washed away.

Skopje, Macedonia – August, 2016
In early August, 2016, Skopje Macedonia experienced severe flash flooding, killing at least 21 people. See this article for photos. In this case the imagery in Google Earth comes from CNES / Astrium. We can see some flooded areas, but the imagery does not quite cover the worst affected area (the northern parts of Chento).

Chetwynd, Canada – June, 2016
Chetwynd, Canada, experienced severe flooding in June, 2016 prompting a state of emergency to be declared. There is a DigitalGlobe image of Chetwynd captured after the event. Although we can see wet areas we could not find any washed away roads or bridges. We believe that the worst damage took place in areas not covered by the image.

Wuhan, China – July, 2016
The city of Wuhan was just one of many locations in China that experienced severe flooding in July. There is a CNES / Astrium image captured after the worst of the floods had already subsided, but the river is still very full, flooding some of the buildings along its banks.

In all the above locations we are looking at the imagery in the default layer. There is almost certainly more imagery hidden in ‘historical imagery’ that Google has chosen not to put in the default layer. However, Google has not updated ‘historical imagery’ since early June so we can’t see it. We should also mention Pekalongan City, Indonesia which experienced flooding in June, 2016. We can see bits of a Digital Globe image, but the parts we can see do not cover the affected area.

To see the locations above in Google Earth, download this KML file. We have marked out the extent of the relevant imagery in each location.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Wikipedia data for US Tornadoes in Google Earth

jeu 06-10-2016

Wikipedia has lists of notable tornadoes and tornado outbreaks worldwide for each year. For example, here is the list for 2016. There are also more detailed lists, such as this one for US Tornadoes from January to March 2016. The detailed lists give geographic coordinates and Enhanced Fujita Rating (EF rating).

We thought it would be interesting to see the locations in Google Earth. So, we imported the data for US tornadoes from Wikipedia going back to 2009. The pages for years prior to 2009 are organised differently so we could not easily import the data. We then used a variation of the tool we created earlier this year to check whether there is relevant imagery. This can take quite a long time, so we only did it for the stronger tornadoes – those with an EF rating of 2 or greater.

To see the results download this KML file. We provide the data either sorted by EF rating or by year. For the placemarks sorted by EF rating and EF rating 2 or greater, we have used a donut icon if there is imagery available within six months after the event.

Wikipedia states that the data comes from the US National Weather Service. The data does not show the paths of the tornadoes and there are often multiple placemarks for a given tornado. We also found the placemarks are not very accurate.

For examples of actual Google Earth imagery of the devastation caused by tornadoes see these posts.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Landsat and Sentinel-2 data now on Google Cloud

mer 05-10-2016

Google has just announced the release of Landsat and Sentinel-2 data on the Google Cloud. Landsat and Sentinel-2 data are public datasets of satellite imagery from earth observation satellites. The Landsat data is from a joint program between US Geological Society (USGS) and NASA and the Sentinel-2 data is from the European Space Agency’s Copernicus program.

Google has long had the datasets in Google Earth Engine, but accessing it required a Google Earth Engine account, which had certain restrictions on usage. The Google cloud version appears to be without restrictions. The data itself is public data and you can do almost anything you like with it although proper attribution may be required.

More about the individual datasets and how to access them can be found here: General instructions, Landsat, Sentinel-2.

The imagery is provided as unprocessed tiles for each of the optical bands that each satellite provides. To see the images in colour requires processing. The easiest way to do this is with commercial tools from GeoSage. Alternatively, see this post for instructions on how to process Sentinel-2 imagery using GIMP. Landsat data can be processed in a similar way, although it an some extra steps are required to get the best resolution.

The resolution of Sentinel-2 imagery is 10 m per pixel and Landsat-8 is 15 m per pixel after pan-sharpening. Do not expect to see the kind of detail we are used to in Google Earth.

Sadly, Google has not provided thumbnails with the data.

Amazon provided Landsat data via its cloud infrastructure Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2015 and more recently added Sentinel-2 data. We did a series of posts featuring KML tools to allow you to preview the latest images and make animations from provided thumbnails. The Landsat data on AWS is somewhat limited compared to the Google Cloud offering. Google is providing all Landsat images from Landsats 4,5,6,7 and 8 from 1982 to present. AWS only has Landsat 8 data and even that is only complete data for 2015 and select images from 2013 and 2014.

The image below is a Sentinel-2 image downloaded from the Google Cloud and processed with GIMP. It shows a small part of the Soberanes Fire, California, on September 12th, 2016. To see it in Google Earth (and covering a larger area) download this KML file

Copernicus Sentinel data, 2016.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Antipode Earth – turning Google Earth inside out

mar 04-10-2016

We were recently thinking about antipodes (pairs of points on opposite sides of the earth). We have previously seen side by side maps that sync so that you can find what is on the other side of any given point. But we thought it might be interesting to see what the world map looks like when every point is translated to the other side of the world.

We tried two versions. For the first, we used a KML map of country outlines that we have used before, that we got from and converted all the coordinates to their antipodes.

Australia is opposite the Atlantic Ocean.

The second version uses one of NASA’s Blue Marble images as an image overlay.

North America is opposite the southern Indian Ocean.

Almost all land has water opposite it with the main exception being South America and East Asia which are opposite each other, but even in that case, a lot of water is involved.

To see the above in Google Earth download this KML file. We suggest editing the properties of the image overlay and try adjusting the transparency.

And finally, for a different way to look at the world, try switching to ‘Sky’ mode. The image overlay does not appear to work in sky mode, but if you turn off all the Sky layers (including ‘imagery’) then the world map KML works and you get a sort of inside out view of the earth.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Earth weather layers being dropped

lun 03-10-2016

The Google Earth weather layers “Conditions and Forecast” and “Ocean Observations” have been broken for some time. We did a post on it in July this year, but at that time it had already been broken for several months. Google has now announced that it will be dropping the layers from Google Earth on October 10th, 2016.

Dropping the layers is certainly better than leaving them broken in Google Earth, as there is currently no indication that they are not displaying the correct information. What do our readers think of this move? Was the layer useful to you? Would a KML file with similar functionality be useful? Let us know what you think in the comments.

The Google Earth “Conditions and Forecast” and “Ocean Observations” weather layers.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

The best of Google Earth for September 2016

ven 30-09-2016

Although Google has been adding new imagery to Google Earth, they have not been updating historical imagery since June, so we cannot make a map of the latest imagery. We did, however, look at a few locations this month which have recent imagery, including the damage caused by the Erskine Fire in California and the trail of destruction left by the Jiangsu Tornado in China. We also discussed an image of Itu Aba Island in the South China Sea that Taiwan apparently wants censored.

Google added quite a lot of interesting 3D imagery this month, including two new countries, Malaysia and Tunisia. The imagery of Tunis has since been removed but that is probably only temporary. The imagery of Sfax, Tunisia remains and a second location, Ipoh, has been added in Malaysia. The city of Kumamoto of Japan was also updated with 3D imagery captured after the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake and we had a look at the signs of earthquake damage, most notably a lot of blue tarpaulins used to patch the roofs. Last month marked the 100th anniversary of the US National Parks Service and in honour of the occasion Google released 3D imagery of a number of US Parks. We created some Google Earth tours showing off the imagery. We also had a look at some volcanoes as featured in 3D imagery, including Mount Fuji in Japan, Mount Vesuvius in Italy and Mount Saint Helens in the USA.

DigitalGlobe’s latest satellite WorldView-4 was supposed to be launched this month. However, the launch was postponed till October. Terra Bella successfully launched several new SkySat satellites in a joint launch with Peruvian earth observation satellite PerúSAT-1.

We had a look at a number of interesting rotating islands around the world prompted by a story about one found in Argentina. If you haven’t already, be sure to also check out some further examples from the Google Earth Community.

We had a look at some circular geoglyphs that were recently studied in Peru.

We discussed two issues with modern facial recognition technology. Google’s automatic facial recognition as used in Street View often blurs objects that should not be blurred, including a cow. At the same time, a recent study suggests that blurring imagery does not fool facial recognition software.

A partnership between Google, Oceana and SkyTruth released a program called Global Fishing Watch that monitors fishing activity around the world.

We released a KML file that catalogues ships that appear in Google Earth’s 3D imagery. The focus is on cruise ships, but ferries and a few other classes of ship are included as well.

We discussed the difficulty of trying to gather good satellite imagery in locations that have year round cloud cover.

We had a look at a study of land lost vs land gained done using Google Earth Engine.

In memory of 9/11 we created an animation using Street View imagery showing the new World Trade Center buildings.

We had a look at some weird altitude effects related to 3D imagery and Google Earth tours.

We had a look at imagery from Terra Bella of the damage caused by an earthquake in Italy and also looked at the Copernicus Emergency Management Service, which also gathered imagery of the event.

We had a look at declassified imagery from US spy satellites and were impressed by the resolution, although it is not quite as good as what is currently available in Google Earth.

We updated our contour drawing script to use Mapzen image tiles rather than their API and found that it works much faster, which allows for much higher resolution contours.

Google released a bug fix update to Google Earth which resolves many of the installation issues as well as fixing an annoying crash when moving placemarks around.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones