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This Google Earth Fan Site Ending Daily Blog Posts Starting Today

lun 31-07-2017

This is a post I have been reluctant to write. I started this blog 12 years ago to bring news and share enthusiasm about one of the best software applications, and datasets, I have ever seen. Still to this day, I am amazed when I use Google Earth and the incredible wealth of data that Google has shared with everyone for free. I am going to start this post with a short statement and explain what our readers should expect. In a more lengthy background dialogue below, I try to tactfully describe what has lead me to this action. This decision was reached after a few months of consideration.


I have decided, after a dozen years of publishing this blog, it is time for me to stop. As a fan, writer, and publisher, I really care about the Google Earth product, and our readers. But as a person, I need to focus my life on other things. It’s possible, if Google produces something really notable, I will write another post or two about amazing things of Google Earth. But, I will not resume daily posts. I plan to continue running the GEB server because many of the thousands of posts are found useful by Google Earth’s millions of world-wide users.

I will be directing readers to communicate with Google’s online help forums to try and obtain answers to questions. For a while, I will try and address some of the many comments and questions we get on the blog. But, those will stop soon. I will continue to respond to long-time GEB readers and friends by E-mail for a while as well.

I want to give special thanks to Mickey Mellen who took over writing this blog from 2009 when I left to sail around the world, and to Timothy Whitehead who took over in late-2014 when Mickey had to focus on other business. They both worked hard to maintain the Google Earth Blog purpose and style, and I greatly appreciate their efforts. We hope the readers of this blog enjoyed what we produced, and the help we gave in E-mails and comments, as much as we enjoyed doing them.

It’s been an amazing 12 years. I hope Google Earth, or superior successors, will continue for a long time to come.

Background Explanation

A lot has changed at Google in the 12 years this blog has been documenting Google Earth’s evolution. Many of those changes were good – the Google Maps and Earth division staff grew significantly, and new features like Panoramio photos, Street View, Google Earth Outreach, Google Mars, Moon, Ocean, and countless other features and layers were added to the product.

But, in recent years, Google Earth development languished. Staff was reduced, and during the last three years all of the top staff who were involved with its original creation have left (John Hanke left Google with Niantic – which created Ingress and Pokemon Go, Brian McClendon left to join Uber, and Michael Jones left to be involved with tech startups and investment groups). I enjoyed greatly working with these guys, and they were very supportive of Google Earth Blog and my efforts to document the enthusiasm of all things Google Earth. They were all peers of mine in the computer graphics and Internet development fields in the decades past. But, there were many concerns when they left.

I tested most versions of Google Earth over the 12 years, and gave many suggestions from both myself, and GEB readers. Google often listened and implemented many of the requests. Fortunately, a little over two years ago an effort to revive development efforts at Google for Google Earth was made, and a next generation version began development with a smaller staff.

Google as a corporation has changed, and, as often happens with publicly traded companies, their priorities with how they manage their products and relations with outside parties has changed. While they still cater to the big online and traditional news sources and pubications, their attention seems to have shifted away from standalone fan sites like GEB. Our blog is not the only fan site that has experienced this. Blogs like Google Maps Mania, for example, changed their focus and became just “Maps Mania” – a multi-product online mapping focused blog instead several years ago.

As Google eliminated most of the software developer hooks into Google Earth, most of the mapping developers have stopped, or greatly reduced, efforts related to Google Earth as a tool. The elimination early this year of support for the Google Earth plugin was the nail in the GE developer coffin – at least for now. The Google Earth Community forums, which once thrived with over a million members, has also dwindled in activity. It was the home of the biggest fans of Google Earth.

The new Chrome-based/and mobile app, version 9 of Google Earth, is the basis of the next generation future from Google. It was released in late April of this year. The new development team, headed by long-time Google Earth developer Sean Askay, has grand plans to implement many of the basic capabilities of the classic pre-version-9 Google Earth applications. As a first release, it shows great promise in terms of graphics performance and its ability to run well in the browser or on a mobile device. But, the web and mobile app version 9 only supports a subset of the Google Earth content, and is missing many of its better features. But, Google has committed to continuing support for the older version while they work on implementing more capabilities in the new generation. They have even recently added some nice tweaks to how the desktop graphics perform on version 7.3 of Google Earth. However, they demoted the better, desktop version, of GE to a link called “older versions” with the release of the first version 9 on the Google Earth official web home page.

In recent months, the new version 9 development team has presumably listened to feedback from GEB and its readers and either implemented, or indicated they will address, some of the requests and suggestions. But, responsiveness and feedback has mostly been slower and more cryptic compared to the past. Much feedback went without reply. In part, I think due to smaller staff, but also I think because Google has changed as a corporation and how it communicates publicly, and even privately, with testers. Their priorities with dealing with the public, and fans of their product, have changed. So much so, that the fun and joy of dealing with Google has disappeared. At least for me.

I realize all too well that many of the people who were die-hard fans of Google Earth 10 years ago, are no longer the fans of the product they once were. Many people have told me they can’t believe I have held on so long. As a long time entrepreneur, former CEO of multiple companies, captain of the seas and air, I am more persistent than most. Believe me, you have no idea. I have tried extremely hard to keep Google supporting Google Earth and its fans over the years.

In a rare occurrence in my life: I give up.

Maybe Google will one day again realize that their fans are important to the longevity of their products.

But, now that I’ve reached this decision, I want to turn my eyes to more optimistic pursuits for myself.

The post This Google Earth Fan Site Ending Daily Blog Posts Starting Today appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Pictures from the ISS: Photos by Thomas Pesquet in Google Earth

ven 28-07-2017

We recently came across a site called “Thomas Pesquet in Google Earth”. It features a KML file that includes over 620 photographs of Earth form the International Space Station (ISS) by French astronaut Thomas Pesquet that were shared through social media. The site and KML were created by Jean-Daniel Cesaro who has painstakingly geolocated them and put them in placemarks in Google Earth.

The photos range from relatively close up shots to sweeping vistas and night time photos. The site is in French, but the KML file is easy to find, so head on over there and download it.

Houston Texas.

The Soyuz Capsule seen over Southern Africa.

Aurora over North America.

To explore the inside of the ISS, see the recently released Street View.

The post Pictures from the ISS: Photos by Thomas Pesquet in Google Earth appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Seconds from launch? A prepped rocket on the launchpad

jeu 27-07-2017

Yesterday we showed you a video created by satellite imaging company Planet of the launch of their most recent flock of Doves using a series of images they had captured from orbit. As we mentioned in that post, it was almost certainly a first for satellite imaging. After writing that post we were having a look around various Spaceports (also known as Cosmodromes) and came across this sight:

Space Launch Complex 40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on December 4th, 2010

We can see a rocket on the launch pad with vapour streaming off it as if it has just been fuelled and the support structure (known as a strongback) is tilted back as if it is about to launch. However, after some research we discovered that it is, in fact, a test firing and not the actual launch of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft. The actual launch took place four days later on December 8th, 2010.

For more SpaceX related sights in Google Earth see this post.

Wikipedia lists the world’s Spaceports on this page but does not give coordinates. Those are provided as part of a longer list of rocket launch sites. We put the information into a KML file for you to view in Google Earth.

Of special note is Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia, which is still under contruction:

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Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia, under construction. 2007 vs 2016.

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Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center features this rocket on display:

Unfortunately, some of the locations we were interested in do not have recent imagery. For example, the European Space Agency (ESA) launches from the Guiana Space Centre, French Guiana in South America. The most recent image of the key launchpads is from 2001. Also, SpaceX is building a private spaceport near Brownsville, Texas, but the imagery is from January 2016 before serious construction started.

The post Seconds from launch? A prepped rocket on the launchpad appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Satellite launch in satellite imagery

mer 26-07-2017

A couple of weeks ago, satellite imaging company Planet launched a flock of 48 ‘Doves’, their low cost imaging satellites. They managed to capture imagery of the launch from one of the Doves already in orbit:

Read more about it on the Planet blog.

As far as we know, this is a satellite imaging first. The key to the achievement was already having a large number of satellites in orbit which enabled them to task a suitable satellite to capture the launch. Even so, they had to tilt it in order to get the shots.

Google Earth features many planes in flight in its imagery. Simply look through historical imagery near any busy airport and you will likely find several. So why is it so hard to capture satellite launches? Put simply, because they are so rare and very fast (the above YouTube video is just 11 seconds long). The chances of a satellite being overhead and capturing an image at just the right time are close to zero unless it is planned in advance as was the case with the Dove satellite.

If you are interested in launch statistics, the website Spaceflight Now has a launch schedule which shows planned launches and we found Gunter’s Space Page which summarizes and categorizes launches. It is possible that there are also classified launches not listed on the above sites.

Satellite launches are unlikely to ever be captured in aerial imagery as aircraft will be excluded from the launch area during launches for safety reasons. Video of launches captured by drones is becoming quite common, but this is not the sort of imagery that is suitable for Google Earth.

The post Satellite launch in satellite imagery appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Earth Imagery Update: Volcanic Island in Alaska and Fire in Russia

mar 25-07-2017

Google has recently added some fresh imagery to Google Earth. It is currently only visible in the default layer, so there will be more to see once Google updates the ‘historical imagery’ layer as well.

Volcanic Island in Alaska
Bogoslof Volcano, located in the Aleutian Islands in the northern Pacific Ocean, erupted in late May. When it was first reported we had a look in Google Earth and there was no imagery at all of the Island. Google has now added a DigitalGlobe image captured in early May before the eruption.

Bogoslof Island, May 11th, 2017.

If we are lucky, we will see images of the eruption once Google updates ‘historical imagery’. DigitalGlobe did capture imagery during and after the eruption and you can see them here. The eruption altered the island quite significantly. According to Wikipedia, Bogoslof Island first appeared in 1796, and changes over time with each eruption and subsequent erosion.

Interestingly, we can see some animals on the beaches, which are probably seals or sea lions (Wikipedia lists both as breeding on the island). They can be seen in all the DigitalGlobe imagery and didn’t even leave during the eruption.

Animals on the beaches of Bogoslof Island, probably seals or sea lions.

Fires in Russia
In late May, there were several fires in the Krasnoyarsk Krai region in Russia, destroying 80 houses. Google has added some imagery relating to the event, but unfortunately it only covers one of the fires. We were able to find a burnt out building at a timber processing facility where one of the fires is believed to have started. It would appear this particular fire did not spread to the nearby town.

Burnt building at timber facility near Gorodishche, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia.

Another fire destroyed 30 houses in Strelka, which is just south of the new imagery. You can see an aerial photo of the damage in Strelka here.

To find the locations above in Google Earth, download this KML file.

The post Google Earth Imagery Update: Volcanic Island in Alaska and Fire in Russia appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Colorising Black and White Historical Aerial Imagery

lun 24-07-2017

We were recently contacted by Zachary Bortolot an Associate Professor in the Geographic Science Program at James Madison University. He has been developing a method of realistically colorising black and white historical aerial images. His method is automated and intelligently transfers colour from recent colour imagery of a location to historical black and white imagery of the same location. His algorithm appears to be able to handle changing landscapes although exact details as to how it does it are not given. Read more about it on his website.

You can also download some sample image overlays to view in Google Earth. Below are just small samples of the images, comparing them with Google Earth imagery. Be sure to download the overlays to explore all the imagery.

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Colorized aerial image, Palm Springs, California, 1972 vs Google Earth image.

Colorized aerial image, Harrisonburg, Virginia, 1974 vs Google Earth image.

Colorized aerial image, Washington, D.C., 1951 vs Google Earth image.

In the case of Washington D.C. Google Earth has an aerial image from 1949 but the colorized image is better quality.

Colorized aerial image, Washington, D.C., 1951 vs Google Earth historical imagery 1949.

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Most countries around the world have large collections of aerial imagery gathered over the years, much of which have never been digitised. It would be great to see more of this imagery in Google Earth and even better if it is colourised.

The post Colorising Black and White Historical Aerial Imagery appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Street View goes to the International Space Station

ven 21-07-2017

Yesterday Google announced on its blog that they have added views of the International Space Station (ISS) to Google Street View. The Google blog post is written by Thomas Pesquet, Astronaut at the European Space Agency (ESA), who spent six months aboard the International Space Station (ISS) as a flight engineer. The ISS Street View is not currently available in Google Earth, so explore it here.

The ISS is in orbit around the earth and so does not have a specific location so Google has decided to place the Street View in Building 9 – Space Vehicle Mockup Facility at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The building houses mockups of every major pressurized module on the International Space Station. It is also not far from the Christopher C. Kraft Jr. Mission Control Center. The Mission Control Center is the building from which flight controllers command, monitor, and plan operations for the ISS.

Interestingly, one of the mockup modules has a user contributed photosphere and we couldn’t identify the equivalent module in the new Street View. If any of our readers can tell us which it is, let us know in the comments.

The Google Blog post incorrectly states that this is the first time Street View imagery has been captured beyond planet Earth. In fact, both the Moon and Mars have had Street View for quite some time.

Another interesting comment is that this is the first time that Street View has included annotations. This is such a new feature that it is not yet working on Google’s dedicated Street View site, only in Google Maps. Let’s hope the feature comes to Google Earth too – including the ability to annotate using KML.

Annotations in Street View is a new feature.

The post Google Street View goes to the International Space Station appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Man made ‘Fairy Circles’

jeu 20-07-2017

‘Fairy Circles’ are a phenomena that occurs in the Namib Desert involving circular patches of bare ground forming striking patterns visible in satellite imagery. We have looked at a number of similar phenomenon around the world caused variously by ants, termites and worms. Last month, we had a look at some Fairy Circle-like patterns in the Northern Cape, South Africa, and on reading the post, my sister Clare, alerted us to similar patterns found in northern Zambia.

Fairy Circle-like patterns in northern Zambia.

Closer inspection reveals the clearings are for cultivation:

The reason for the interesting pattern is the method of agriculture being employed in the region. It is locally known as the Chitemene System. The soils of the region are nutrient-poor. Trees are coppiced and the branches brought to a central point and burnt. The ash is then spread over the field, which fertilises the soil, allowing crops to be grown for several years. The pattern is caused by the need for a larger area than the cultivated field to supply the necessary vegetation. Fields are moved after a number of years. In the above image we can see fields of various ages.

In this image we can actually see the burnt areas in the centres of some fields.

Commercial farmers can afford to buy fertiliser so are less restricted. We believe the spottiness in the field below is due to termite activity.

We also came across a vast region that had recently experienced bush fires. We can see what appear to be termite mounds and the path of the fire appears to flow like water across the landscape:

It would appear that in some places, fields have been made around termite mounds. This presumably means the termites make the soil a bit more fertile. Strangely, this seems to be the opposite of what we see in large commercial fields that tend to have bare patches where termite mounds used to be.

For the locations featured above, download this KML file.

The post Man made ‘Fairy Circles’ appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Game of Thrones in Street View and Google Earth

mer 19-07-2017

In celebration of the season seven premiere of popular TV series “Game of Thrones”, Google has created a Street View collection of various locations used in the filming of the series.

Although we highly recommend using Google Maps to explore Street View as the Google Maps Street View interface is better than Google Earth’s, it is also worth visiting the locations in Google Earth as it provides a better perspective of the relative locations, as well as featuring 3D imagery in some of the locations. Some locations have the old type of 3D model and some have the new 3D mesh.

Water Gardens of Dorne (Real Alcázar in Seville, Spain)

The Long Bridge of Volantis (A bridge in Córdoba, Spain)

To find the locations in Google Earth, download this KML file.

The post Game of Thrones in Street View and Google Earth appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Homeowner mows ‘A-hole’ message on lawn over a dispute with neighbour

mar 18-07-2017

A recent story in the news about a homeowner in Dungeness, Washington, USA who, as a result of a dispute with a neighbour wrote a giant message saying ‘A hole’ and an arrow pointing at his neighbour.

Find the location in Google Earth with this KML file.

The above image is from August 2016, but it is clear from historical imagery that it was created some time between 2011 and 2013 and maintained since then.

Quite often large messages seen in Google Earth imagery are intended to be seen from the ground or from passing aircraft. Writing messages specifically for Google Earth can be tricky as you never know when your area will next be photographed. If your message is not designed to last, it may never be captured. Here in Cape Town, Google Earth gets multiple images per month, but the imagery is from satellites and relatively low resolution so the writing must be much bigger. In the US, and other regions that get higher resolution aerial imagery, the frequency of updates tends to be much lower – about once every three years for the continental US. Several messages we looked at in 2015 have not yet appeared in Google Earth imagery. This message created by Hyundai was short lived and although the region has been updated since then the message is not visible. Another project consisting of graffiti on a disused runway is probably longer lasting but the region has not yet been updated. We also heard from one of our readers that he has been regularly mowing a message to his daughter in the hopes that it will one day be captured in Google Earth imagery. We keep an eye on the location, but it hasn’t been updated since 2013.

For some other rude messages in Google Earth see this post on phallic symbols.

The post Homeowner mows ‘A-hole’ message on lawn over a dispute with neighbour appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Planet Launches 48 More Satellites

lun 17-07-2017

On July 14, 2017, satellite imaging company Planet launched another 48 of their small, low resolution, satellites they call ‘Doves’ into orbit. They were launched on a Soyuz rocket together with a number of other satellites. This follows a record launch of 88 Doves back in February. In addition, earlier this year they acquired Google’s Terra Bella and Rapid Eye in 2015. If our count is correct they now have 192 Doves, 5 Rapid Eye satellites and 7 SkySat satellites for a total of 204.

Planet’s large fleet means they have very good coverage, being able to image most parts of the world multiple times per day. However, the small size of the satellites means the resolutions they offer are not as good as some of the other players in the imaging business. See this post for a summary of satellite resolutions. Also keep in mind that Google Earth features aerial imagery in some locations, which is higher resolution than any satellite can provide.

The Terra Bella sale announcement states that Google will purchase imagery from Planet in a multiyear contract. Whether we will see any Planet imagery in Google Earth, however, remains to be seen. It would certainly be nice to see the global mosaic used when zoomed out updated to a higher resolution and clearer image (less cloud and ice cover).

The post Planet Launches 48 More Satellites appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

The Future of Google Earth Voyager

ven 14-07-2017

Google recently added some new Voyager tours titled ‘I Am Amazon’ featuring various stories from the Amazon. These tours are exclusively for the new browser-based Google Earth and the Android app. Read more about the tours on Google’s blog. This announcement came shortly after Google added Brazilian indigenous territories to their mapping products.

At the announcement event for the ‘I am Amazon’ Google Earth Director Rebecca Moore made an interesting comment to Reuters. She mentioned that Google plans to allow the public to share their stories via the Voyager platform at some point in the future (two to three years). This has led to speculation that it may become ‘the next Great social network’. It is certainly a great idea and we have previously suggested it when Google released the new browser based Google Earth.

So while we wait, what opportunities exist for sharing today?

Since the very early days of Google Earth, there has been the Google Earth Community, a forum where Google Earth enthusiasts share interesting locations and a wealth of information about them. However, the community is not integrated into Google Earth and is independent of Google.

Sharing geolocated photos can be done via Google Maps, and although accessing those photos in Google Earth classic currently doesn’t work, they are visible in the new browser based Google Earth. Panoramio, formerly the most popular way to share panoramic photos via Google Earth, was discontinued earlier this year and the photos will likely be removed from Google Earth this November.

Google Earth used to be partially integrated with Google Maps Gallery, a site where users could easily share maps. However, Google Maps Gallery relied on another Google product, Google Maps Engine, which was discontinued in early 2016, so there is no longer a good public map sharing site linked to Google Earth.

You can, of course, share your Google Earth content via any other platform in the form of KML files, which users can download and view in Google Earth. If you want to create Voyager-like tours for the new Google Earth, then be sure to check out the tour maker by geteach that we had a look at in April. If you want to create dynamic content that changes over time, then look into KML network links.

The post The Future of Google Earth Voyager appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

A Panda Solar Power Plant

jeu 13-07-2017

A recent story in the news is about a solar plant recently completed in China that was designed in the shape of a panda. However, the images initially circulated were all artists concepts and not photos of the actual plant. Eventually Snopes was able to obtain an actual photo of the plant and we decided to try and find it in Google Earth. We knew the solar plant was somewhere in the vicinity of Datong, Shanxi, China, and we found a large number of solar plants in the region, but could not find the panda. Then we found this article that features a screen shot from Google Earth and once we knew what to look for, we found it quite quickly near a solar plant we had already identified.

The panda solar plant as seen in Google Earth in an image dated May 18th, 2017. There are actually two pandas.

As we discovered when looking at floating solar, solar plants are springing up almost everywhere you look, especially in China. The plants we found in the Datong region were all built in the last few years. According to Wikipedia, China is roughly doubling its installed solar power every year. Exponential trends can’t continue forever, but it does make us wonder what the landscape will look like in ten years. It won’t be long before there is stiff competition for land between solar and agriculture – which is one reason why floating solar is becoming a popular solution. From the plants we found, mountain tops and southern facing slopes seem to be the most popular sites at present in the Datong region.

Solar plants around Datong, Shanxi, China.

Some plants like the one below, appear to have been built on dry river beds. This is presumably to avoid competition with agriculture, but it does raise the question of whether or not they will get washed away in the large rain storm.

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Before and After showing how the solar plant is built in a dried out riverbed.

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To find the pandas and other nearby solar plants in Google Earth, download this KML file.

The post A Panda Solar Power Plant appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

New Google Earth Desktop Version 7.3

mer 12-07-2017

[UPDATE 19-JULY-2017] Google updated the 7.3 release with a new version that fixed a problem with the Linux version, and also fixed an HTTP request issue. The “advanced”
manual update release will roll out in a few hours they said. Right now that is still the 7.1 version. Google has said that they temporarily removed the new 7.3 update due to a critical bug found shortly after being launched. I will update this post when the update is once again available and/or more details are released. If you try to go download now, you will get the latest 7.1 release instead. – Frank]

Google has updated the desktop version of Google Earth to Although there are no added features, it is a fairly significant update, including enhancements to the interface, graphics, internal browser and much more. See the release announcement for the full list of changes.

Google Earth Pro for all
Google is finally dropping the ‘basic’ version of Google Earth and upgrading everyone to Google Earth Pro. The update should be automatic if you have Google Earth or Google Earth Pro already installed and a recent operating system (the minimum requirements have been increased). Google has updated the Google Earth download site to promote the new web version and you must click on ‘older versions’ to find the desktop version.

Frank reports that he gets significantly better graphics in the new version due to better graphics settings being enabled by default. The release notes state that antialiasing and anisotropic filtering are now enabled by default and Google Earth also defaults to OpenGL mode (vs DirectX mode which was the previous default on Windows). It appears that the antialiasing option in the settings is only available in OpenGL mode although that might depend on the graphics card. Google also made changes to make it look better on higher res displays like Retina from Mac.

To learn more about antialiasing to how to get similar quality improvements in older versions of Google Earth, see this YouTube video Frank made in 2015.

Internal browser

We ran our browser tests KML file and found that the new version scores 338 on the HTML 5 test site. The previous version scored just 169 and in 2015 Google Earth was scoring 119. The latest version of Chrome scores 518.

One downside of the new browser is tightened security settings. For example, our KMLs for animating Landsat and Sentinel-2 imagery no longer work correctly when run locally. The solution is to run them via a network link – a trick that works even if the KML file is still stored locally.

The biggest news for KML developers is that Google has enabled the DevTools window, which allows you to inspect and debug placemark HTML and JavaScript. Prior to this, it was extremely difficult to develop JavaScript to run in placemarks. To view DevTools, simply right click on an open placemark and select ‘Inspect’.

A Repair Tool
A repair tool has been added that helps resolve common problems. It should show up automatically if you are having trouble opening Google Earth, or can be run manually from within Google Earth: Help->Launch Repair Tool


Use the last option with care as it will delete all your saved places.

The post New Google Earth Desktop Version 7.3 appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Using Computer Vision and Street View to Map Urban Change

mar 11-07-2017

Researchers at MIT have been using computer vision to look at Street View and map urban change over time. Read more about it on Maps Mania. The original paper from MIT is here and a map of several US cities with their results is here. Look for white dots on the maps to see ‘before and afters’ of various locations using Street View.

Detroit has seen dramatic change, gradually falling to one third of its maximum population from 1950 to date. Unfortunately, Street View and overhead imagery only cover the most recent changes, but even so, significant changes can be seen.

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Aerial imagery, Highland Park, Detroit, showing houses removed between 2002 and 2016.

Street View of Highland St, Highland Park, Detroit, showing houses decaying between 2009 and 2013. The houses have since been demolished.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Trip View Bowls in New Google Earth

lun 10-07-2017

“Trip View Bowls” are porcelain bowls painted on the inside with a 360 degree landscape of a real world location. They are essentially what you would get if you painted Street View image on the inside of a bowl. Back in 2011 GEB reader Steven Ho, whose work we often cover created a 3D model of a Trip View Bowl and placed it in Google Earth.

Steven has recently updated the concept to work with the new browser based Google Earth and created a tour featuring Trip View Bowls of various locations around Taiwan. Read more about it, and find the KML tour on his blog.

The tour does not appear to work in Google Earth Classic, and makes use of what appears to be an undocumented feature of KML gx:streetViewPanoId in order to show the panoramas from Street View in the new Google Earth. It’s great to see creators starting to experiment with the new Google Earth to see what new features can be exploited.

The post Trip View Bowls in New Google Earth appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Earth Live?

ven 07-07-2017

We often get asked by GEB readers how to upgrade to the ‘live’ version of Google Earth. Unfortunately, no such version exists and all imagery in Google Earth is dated – and in many places, the latest imagery, both over-head and Street View (where it exists), is several years old. However, it is possible to see some live content in Google Earth. For example, Google has recently added a new Voyager tour to the web / Android version of Google Earth that features bear cams (web cams looking at bears). Read more about it in Google’s blog post.

The first ‘bear cam’ we looked at featured a bear fishing live on camera.

For more web cams, in Google Earth classic, enable the Gallery-> layer. Keep in mind that most web cams do not show live video, but instead, a series of images captured at intervals, and it is not unusual for them to be out of date. So be sure to look for a time stamp before assuming that the image you see is current.

The closest one can get to live satellite imagery is feeds from weather satellites (as are used to create the ‘clouds’ layer in Google Earth). An example is the Himawari-8 satellite over Japan. Weather satellites are very low resolution and are mostly only useful for viewing cloud patterns and snow cover. For higher resolution, Sentinel-2 imagery is often published within a day of being captured, but requires downloading and processing to view. Landsat imagery is another option, but often takes longer to be released. To find the latest imagery use our KML files: Sentinel-2 and Landsat. We recommend only opening one at a time due to the large number of polygons in the files.

It is also possible to see live views from the International Space Station but you typically cannot see much detail of the surface of the earth.

The post Google Earth Live? appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Earth Imagery Updates: Tornadoes

jeu 06-07-2017

Google recently updated the ‘historical imagery’ layer and on Tuesday we had a look at a couple of floods visible in the fresh imagery. Today we are looking at a number of tornadoes in the United States.

Elk City, Oklahoma.
On May 16th, 2017, an EF2 tornado caused major damage across the southern fringes of Elk City, Oklahoma causing one death and a number of injuries. Google Earth has a DigitalGlobe image captured just four days later.

Damaged houses in Elk City.

Interesting patterns in the fields caused by the tornado.

See the tornado and resulting damage from the ground in this YouTube video.

Eustace / Canton, Texas (two tornadoes).
On April 29th, 2017, two tornadoes occurred near Canton, Texas. See Wikipedia for a full description. We had a look at these tornadoes in May using Sentinel-2 imagery. Now there is higher resolution imagery from DigitalGlobe, captured just 6 days after the event. See below the paths of the tornadoes as far as we were able to track them in Google Earth imagery. The actual paths were longer and according to Wikipedia, the two eastern tracks shown was a single continuous tornado.

Destruction caused by the Canton / Fruitville tornado.

Hattiesburg, Mississippi and Adel, Georgia.
These were part of an outbreak of 81 tornadoes, the second-largest January tornado outbreak and the third-largest winter tornado outbreak since 1950, causing 20 deaths and US$1.3 billion in damage.

Although the Hattiesburg, Mississippi tornado occurred on January 21st, 2017, only part of its track has recent imagery. However, we were able to find the track in the imagery that exists. The tornado near Adel, Georgia occurred on January 22nd, and the imagery is from May 27th, 2017, four months later, but the track is still visible and the severe damage to Sunshine Acres mobile home park can be seen below:

Sunshine Acres mobile home park, Adel, Georgia.

According to Wikipedia, of the park’s roughly 100 homes, 45 were destroyed — 35 of which were obliterated. Although we don’t count that many structures, it is possible that many buildings were duplexes.

For the tracks of all the above tornadoes as far as we were able to trace them, download this KML file.

The post Google Earth Imagery Updates: Tornadoes appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Maps Indigenous Territories in Canada and Brazil

mer 05-07-2017

Google has recently announced that they have added Indigenous Territories for both Canada and Brazil to their mapping products. Read more about it on the Google Blog (Canada, Brazil).

Although the names of indigenous territories can be found in search in both Google Maps and Google Earth, the outlines only show in Google Maps. Even the web version of Google Earth, which largely shares the same database as Google Maps, does not show the outlines. Another issue is that even in Google Maps, there is no way to view all the outlines at once. It would be nice if Google were to add them to Google Earth either as second level admin regions, or a layer on their own.

When looking at Brazil in Google Earth, it is immediately apparent that some areas are not being cleared for cultivation. These are a mix of indigenous territories and protected regions (nature preserves of various kinds).

The indigenous territories are not completely free of visible human activity. The indigenous territory of Kayapó, for example includes a town, a road to the town, some signs of clearing presumably for cultivation and an area that appears to be surface gold mining.

The post Google Maps Indigenous Territories in Canada and Brazil appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Earth Imagery Updates: Floods

mar 04-07-2017

Google has recently updated the ‘historical imagery’ layer and today we are having a look at a couple of floods.

Black River, Arkansas.
We had a look at this flooding event last month using low resolution Sentinel-2 imagery. Now there is higher resolution DigitalGlobe imagery we can see a lot more detail. The imagery was captured on May 6th, 2017.

The road below appears to have also served as a levee to prevent flooding. However, it has clearly been breached in a number of places, causing major flooding downstream.

Multiple breaches in a levee, Black River, Arkansas (near Pocahontas).

Flooded houses downstream from the breached levee.

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Pocahontas, Arkansas, showing how the height of the river during the flood compares to the normal level.

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Rigaud, Quebec, Canada.
According to this article, between April 5 and May 16, more than 5,700 homes were flooded and more than 4,000 people forced from their homes in Quebec, Canada. One of the worst affected towns was Rigaud. There are some DigitalGlobe images from May 17 after the water started to subside, but we can still see some flooded areas.

Flooded houses in Rigaud, Quebec, Canada.

Retreating flood waters, Rigaud, Quebec, Canada.

For outlines of the above imagery and locations of interest, download this KML file.

The post Google Earth Imagery Updates: Floods appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones