Google Earth Blog
We have in the past shown you how to turn Google Earth into various other planets including Saturn, Jupiter and Mars. Several of the models come from the Barnabu blog by James Stafford, who also created a comparison of the solar system’s moons, which we covered in 2007.
Now you can explore a number of the solar system’s planets and moons using imagery courtesy of NASA and USGS, which has been published on the Google Maps Gallery by the SETI Institute.
Simply pick a map from here then click the ‘View in Google Earth’ button at the lower right. Turn off any distracting Google Earth layers. Also note that many of the maps have multiple layers that can be turned on or off in Google Earth.
Jupiter’s Moon Io.
Topographic map of Venus.
Thank you to GEB reader Sebastien for letting us know that the Field of View can be adjusted in Google Earth by means of a tour. There are other techniques mentioned here such as a KML with transparent photo overlay, or changing an ini file, but the tour technique seems to be the easiest.
It is hard to describe the effects of changing the field of view, so instead we will just show you.
Google Earth with different fields of view.
In the above screen shots, the eye altitude varies from about 64,000 km with a field of view of 10°, to just 37 km with a field of view of 300°. Also, with the larger fields of view it is possible to zoom out a very long way from the earth, which has interesting effects on the background stars and galaxy. Using the 300° field of view and zooming in on an area with mountains or 3D buildings also has interesting effects.
3D buildings seen with a 300° field of view.
If you ever want to change the field of view yourself simply create a short tour in Google Earth, edit the KML and add <gx:horizFov>120</gx:horizFov> inside the <LookAt> tag, changing ‘120’ to your desired field of view.
Alternatively, just download one of the tours we have prepared for you, and if it doesn’t have your desired field of view, edit it in a text editor and adjust the number in the line with ‘gx:horizFov’. Here are the tours: 10°,30°,45°,60°,90°,120°,160°,200°,300°.
The field of view remains in effect until you either open a tour with another field of view, or restart Google Earth.
The post Using KML to change your field of view in Google Earth appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
Due to the uncertain future of the Google Earth plugin, many prominent sites that used to use it have started to transition to other alternatives.
Here are three examples:Ships 2 Career from PlanetInAction.com
However, the developer, Paul van Dinther, is now working on Ships 2 Career, which is entirely Google Maps based. Follow his progress on his Google+ page. We are sure that when it is released it will be an excellent game.
Ships 2 Career will be entirely Google Maps based.
GE Teach, a site developed by 9th-grade geography teacher Josh Williams, received a Geographic Excellence in Media Award in 2012. The site, until now, has been making excellent use of the Google Earth plugin to show side by side comparison views of various maps.
However, the site is now transitioning to a new version based on Google Maps. Despite the lack of 3D, it still looks good and has a number of notable features, including drawing tools, access to Google Maps Gallery, and Street View.
GE Teach Google Maps version
YoubeQ is a cross between a social network and a driving/flying simulator. It allows you to drive or fly a large number of different vehicles/aircraft around the globe while socializing with other people you meet on the way. When we featured it in June 2014, it had 13 vehicles and 3 languages. Until recently it was based on the Google Earth plugin. It has now been completely redone in WebGL using Cesium. Read more about it here. It now uses Bing Maps for the 3D portion and Google Maps for navigation.
The new YoubeQ, using Cesium and Bing Maps.
The US Geological Survey (USGS) has a program called the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP).
From the USGS website:
The 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) initiative is being developed to respond to growing needs for high-quality topographic data and for a wide range of other three-dimensional representations of the Nation’s natural and constructed features. The primary goal of 3DEP is to systematically collect enhanced elevation data in the form of high-quality light detection and ranging (lidar) data over the conterminous United States, Hawaii, and the U.S. territories, with data acquired over an 8-year period. Interferometric synthetic aperture radar (ifsar) data will be collected over Alaska, where cloud cover and remote locations preclude the use of lidar over much of the State.
We believe that once completed the data will be placed in the public domain, which will mean that Google will use it in Google Earth. It is not clear how the resolution will compare to the 3D imagery that Google has been rolling out for cities that is created using a different technique. It would certainly not replace Google’s 3D imagery, as that requires not just a 3D model, but also photos of the different faces of the models, which will not be provided by the USGS data. However, it would certainly significantly improve the 3D landscape for areas where Google has not created 3D mesh.
Google has worked closely with USGS in the past. The Earthquake layer in Google Earth is provided by the USGS, as was the imagery used in Google Earth Engine to create global yearly images and a timelapse of the whole earth.
High-resolution lidar image of Mount St. Helens, Washington. Courtesy of USGS. A downloadable high resolution poster of this image can be found here
This article in the Washington post shows a sample of the new terrain maps, which clearly shows trees and is reminiscent of Google’s 3D imagery. However, this article from The American Surveyor shows a sample in which the trees hardly seem to feature. I guess we will have to wait for the first actual releases of data to see what the results are.
A magnetic compass, including the compasses on most smart phones, does not point to the North Pole, or even to the North Magnetic Pole. Instead, it points away from True North by an angle known as the Magnetic Declination, which varies considerably, depending on where you are on the earths surface. It also varies slowly over time, as you can see in the animation on the Wikipedia page. On paper maps, this may be further complicated by a third direction known as Grid North, which refers to the direction northwards along the grid lines of the map.
We mentioned in this post a time animation for Google Earth, visualizing the Earth’s magnetic fields changing over time. You can check it out, but we had difficulty getting it to work well as an animation in the current version of Google Earth, although viewing an individual year is not a problem.
To find out what the magnetic declination in your location is, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), provides a handy tool on their website. There is also this useful site that lets you pick your loction on a map and tells you the magnetic declination. The ruler tool in Google Earth shows ‘heading’, so once you know your magnetic declination it is pretty easy to work out which way your compass will point in Google Earth.
Magnetic declination for Cape Town.
From what we can tell, the mobile versions of both Google Maps and Google Earth automatically correct for magnetic declination and always show True North, although we couldn’t find any documentation to that effect.
The US National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC) has recently updated their KML files of Arctic and Antarctic ice to include 2014 data. We have looked at their work many times in the past, as you can see here. Also of note is this press release from them explaining that the Arctic sea ice extent is shrinking and the Antarctic sea ice extent is growing. They also indicate this is the 6th lowest amount of ice recorded since they began measurements. Keep in mind that this is minimum and maximum extent of sea ice as measured by satellite and not thickness or total volume.
What interested me most about the animations showing the historical record is how the maximum extent of sea ice seems to be a very different shape each year.
Poachers tracked down with Google Earth
Arctic sea ice extent, September 2014. The pink line is the monthly median sea ice extent 1981-2010
There was an interesting story on Mongabay.com about how a poachers’ camp was identified using the imagery in Google Earth.
The ‘machamba’ (small farm with a few huts) shown in the article.
The interesting part of the story from a Google Earth perspective is that the imagery used was from July 2013 and July 2012, yet it was still useful in tracking down active poachers in 2014. To see the location in Google Earth download this KMLWorld’s first space detective agency launched.
See the full article here.
Because satellite imagery is being used in court cases more and more frequently, Raymond Harris and Raymond Purdy have launched the world’s first space detective agency. They will specialize in finding and obtaining appropriate satellite imagery for legal cases as well as ensuring that the acquisition and subsequent handling of imagery meets the standards required by courts.
The post News Roundup: Polar ice caps, poachers and space detectives appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
We recently came across this map in the Maps Gallery which alerted us to the the fact that Google Earth (and Maps) has imagery taken soon after the magnitude 6.0 earthquake that struck Napa Valley, California in August. To find out when and where the earthquake took place, we can use the ‘Earthquake’ layer in Google Earth (found in the ‘Gallery’ layer). According to the marker on that layer, provided by the US Geological Survey (USGS), the Earthquake took place at 10:20:44 UTC on August 24, 2014, which was 3:20 a.m. local time. The latest imagery in the region is dated August 24, 2014, and judging from the shadows, was taken in the early afternoon. The whole area has the new 3D imagery, which is created with aerial photography captured before the earthquake, so to see the imagery from 24th August, turn off the 3D buildings layer. You will also not see the imagery in Google Maps, because it also shows the 3D imagery and has no way to turn it off or view historical imagery.
Although hundreds of buildings were damaged, very few collapsed, so in most cases the damage is not visible in the satellite imagery.
An earthquake damaged building showing debris in the road and a crowd of onlookers.
Four homes burnt down in fire in mobile home park. See this news article.
Collapsed car port roofs. See news article here.
Water on road from ruptured water pipes.
Download this KML file to view the locations in Google Earth.
For our many other posts about earthquakes and the tools in Google Earth relating to earthquakes you can go here.
We came across an interesting story about a Tongan islet disappearing. Read more about it here.
The Tonga islet of Monaufe disappearing as seen in Google Earth historical imagery.
It is not the first Togan islet to disappear. Here is an article from 1913 printed in the Australian paper the Sunday Morning Herald which also mentions an islet in the Tonga group disappearing.
Thank you to GEB readers André, Martin and Maarten for letting us know that Google did an imagery update on 4th October, 2014.
Imagery updates for 4th October, 2014 – Larger version.
Google has this map on the Maps Gallery that shows the latest imagery updates. However, there is no way to save it other than via a screen shot. The map is updated after Google releases new Imagery. Until yesterday, it showed the last imagery update that we reported on which was on the 26th of August.
However there is another map here which purports to show updates for the whole month rather than just the most recent date. Strangely, it also only showed the month of August 2014 until yesterday, but now it shows September 2014. When it showed August 2014, it appeared to correctly show a combination of the August 13th and August 26th Updates. So were there updates in September that were never shown on the normal updates map?
Imagery updates for the Month of September 2014 ? – Larger version.
Following on from yesterday’s post about historical imagery, we thought it would be interesting to make an animation. As you can see below, we have created an animated gif image showing the historical imagery for Europe. Because there is very little imagery prior to the year 2000, we have shown decades from 1940 to 2000 and then yearly snapshots from 2000 to date.
If you look carefully, you can see the difference between aerial imagery, which is introduced in large patches, and satellite imagery, which appears in strips running in a north-south direction.
There are several different ways to get to Historical Imagery:
- On the toolbar, click the ‘Historical Imagery’ button. (A clock with an arrow pointing anticlockwise see 1. in the screenshot below).
- From the menu select ‘View->Historical Imagery’. (2. in the screenshot below)
- Click on the date in the lower left corner of the Google Earth window, which will take you immediately to the oldest historical imagery available. (3. in the screenshot below). Note that the date will only show when historical imagery is available for the area you are viewing.
It is also important to know how to tell the date of the imagery being displayed in Google Earth. If you put the mouse over the location you are interested in, Google Earth will show “Imagery date” near the bottom center of the screen. This is shown as 4. in the screen shot above. Do not confuse this with 3. which is the date of the oldest available historical imagery.
Also keep in mind:
- For aerial imagery, the date displayed may not be accurate. For an explanation as to why this is, see this post.
- For cities with 3D imagery, the date of the 3D imagery is not shown. This is because the 3D imagery is treated as a model in Google Earth and not imagery.
- You may encounter places between images where no date is shown.
When you open Historical Imagery, the toolbar shown below is displayed. The view in Google Earth will also tend to look patchy, because Google Earth is no longer blending various images together.
The Historical Imagery toolbar.
Use the time slider to display imagery from the date you desire. Note that:
- Unless you are zoomed in quite close the ground, imagery matching the date you have selected will usually only be a portion of the imagery displayed on the screen.
- Generally, the imagery displayed on screen is the same date or older than the date selected on the Historical Imagery slider – except for a global background image of poor resolution, for which a date is not shown.
Some of the imagery in Historical Imagery may actually be more recent than the default imagery displayed in Google Earth. This is because Google selects the best quality imagery available for a location in preference to the most recent.
Switching to the Historical Imagery view also turns off the new 3D buildings mesh and displays the 3D models that were there previously – if you have the 3D buildings layer turned on.
While writing the 3D imagery post we came across this oddity: If you draw a path in Google Earth, the line segments follow geodesics, which are parts of great circles. If you draw a polygon, the sides are rhumb lines (also known as loxodromes or lines of constant bearing). A geodesic is a straight line on a three dimensional globe. A rhumb line is a straight line on the Web Mercator projection used by Google Maps.
On looking up the KML reference documentation the only mention as to whether the lines drawn will be geodesics or rhumb lines is a small note that appears under <Polygon> and <LinearRing>.
And this seems to be the only reference in the KML documentation to either geodesics or rhumb lines or when one or the other will be used to render a line. After some experimentation it was noticed that in actual practice, in Google Earth, a filled polygon uses rhumb lines whereas an unfilled polygon uses geodesics. We also tried importing KMLs into My Maps, and it turns out that My Maps always uses geodesics.
So if you work with polygons in Google Earth, keep in mind that:
- If you change its ‘filled’ attribute you will affect whether it uses geodesics or rhumb lines.
- If you want an unfilled polygon that still maintains rhumb lines for its vertices, then don’t change it to unfilled, but change the opacity of its ‘filled’ attribute to zero.
- If you import filled polygons into My Maps via KML they will be converted from rhumb lines to geodesics.
Filled polygon showing rhumb line sides. Rhumb lines drawn on a globe curve more near the poles.
We have also created a KML for you to download demonstrating the different effects.
Google Earth’s 3D view of the Ocean floor was first introduced in version 5. It has been improved a number of times since then. Panaromio photos in the oceans were added in 2010 and underwater Street View in 2012.
Google’s current ocean floor data comes from a number of sources, including:
- Ship bathymetry data. Learn more about it in this post.
- An extrapolation of water surface heights to estimate undersea mountains and canyons, based on radar data collected by satellite.
- Satellite data on slight variations of the pull of gravity over the oceans.
One of the organizations that has provided this data in the past is the Scripps Institution Of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego. Yesterday, they released some new data from the satellites CryoSat-2 and Jason-1, including global maps of the sea floor that they have released in KML format so they can be viewed in Google Earth. Read more about it and download the KMLs here. Be sure to watch the video featured on that page, which explains more about it.
Google get their imagery from a wide variety of sources, and due to there being so many factors involved, it is impossible to predict when and where they will do updates. We have covered this a number of times on our blog, most recently in April. But before we start talking about imagery updates, it is important to realize that the satellite imagery displayed in Google Earth by default is often not the most recent imagery available. Why this is the case is explained here. So always be sure to check Historical Imagery to make sure that there isn’t already something more recent available. Instructions on how to use the Historical Imagery feature in Google Earth can be found here. It is important to note that the dates displayed on the imagery are not always accurate. The reasons for this are explained here.
Satellite or aerial imagery
If you are a city, state or country that has collected aerial imagery at your own expense, you own the rights to the imagery, and would like Google to put it into Google Earth, there is a pretty good chance that asking Google to do so will meet with a positive response. This is provided that the imagery is of good quality, is properly georeferenced etc. But for the rest of us, if we want more recent satellite or aerial imagery we typically just have to wait until either a satellite gets a good image of our area or some commercial project takes aerial imagery of our area, and Google either purchases it or enters some agreement whereby they can use the imagery. Capturing aerial imagery is still very expensive and such projects are typically done on a city-sized area or larger. Hopefully, the advances in drone technology will soon mean that the costs of capturing aerial imagery will come down dramatically.
If what you want is a satellite or aerial image of a given location and you are willing to pay for it, then it may be possible for you to purchase the imagery or even contract a company to capture imagery. Satellite imagery providers will often have imagery that is more recent than that found in Google Earth, but be warned that it will typically contain partial cloud cover. If you want satellite imagery, a list of suppliers for Digital Globe imagery can be found here. Another satellite imagery company is Airbus Defense and Space. And then there is Skybox Imaging, which is owned by Google.
The availability of aerial imagery providers will depend on your location, so if aerial imagery is required, we recommend an internet search for providers in your area. The resolution of aerial imagery is typically better than that of satellite imagery and is less likely to have problems with cloud cover, as the aircraft can either fly below the clouds or pick a day with clear skies. However, contracting someone to capture aerial imagery is typically significantly more expensive than satellite imagery.
What about Street View?
Street View imagery is gradually being expanded to much of the globe, and for many places, existing coverage is being continuously updated. They do give some information as to where they will are currently driving, which can be found here.
If you want Street View where you are, you have a number of options available. If you are a small to medium sized business, you can get Business View and hire a photographer from Google’s network of trusted photographers to come and photograph your business and have it uploaded into Street View. For large venues, such as a university, stadium, mall, or park, you can actually request a visit from the Street View team, and if you are lucky, they will come and photograph your venue for you. If you’re a tourism board, non-profit, university, research organization or other third party who can gain access and help collect imagery of hard to reach places, you can apply to borrow the Trekker via the Trekker Loan Program.
If all you want is a few panoramas, then you can take them yourself and upload them via Google Views. The easiest way to capture imagery for Google Views is using the smart phone app PhotoSphere, available for both Android and iOS. When you capture Photo Spheres they become part of Street View and are actually given preference by Google over images taken by their Street View vehicles.
A Photo Sphere taken by GEB writer Mickey Mellen is now part of Street View. To read more about when and where he captured it, see his post here
As mentioned in this recent post, users that have custom maps are being migrated from the Classic My Maps to Google’s new version of My Maps which was formerly Google Maps Engine Lite. This information pertains to the desktop web versions, not the mobile apps.
So let us have a look at the observable differences between the new Google My Maps and Google Maps, and how it effects Google Earth users. The following post is based entirely on observations made while trying the products and it is important to remember that we have no direct knowledge of the actual technology used behind the scenes.
Both Google Maps and Google My Maps appear to share the same basic mapping data, such as the street map, public transit maps, and points of interest, but beyond that, there are very significant differences between the two.
- This is again the new Google Maps (also known as the “preview” option).
- It is dynamic. Click on any place on the map, and the map changes, highlighting subtly important features relevant to the location you clicked and hiding features that are less relevant.
- It is personal. If you have signed in, then your saved places places will be shown, and possibly your home and work locations if Google knows them. Your current location may also be shown if you wish.
- It has Street View, including Historical Street View, which cannot be accessed in Google Earths Street View, nor in the older version of Street View.
- It has Earth view, including 3D imagery and the ability to tilt and pan the view in a way that is similar to Google Earth, but in a number of ways significantly different. Most notably, the 3D view can only be viewed from the four cardinal directions and two specific angles.
- It has web versions of Google Moon and Google Mars similar to those in Google Earth. There are currently no ‘My Moon’ or ‘My Mars’ products. In Google Moon and Google Mars in the new Google Maps Earth View, there is no search functionality, whereas in the desktop application Google Earth, there is both search functionality and many selectable layers. Plus you can create KML content on the Google Earth versions of Moon and Mars for your own use, or to be shared with others via KML.
- It has only two base maps – the background image that the map data is overlayed onto. There is the default street map view, which shows significant variation over the different zoom levels, and there is the satellite imagery in Earth View.
- It has a new rendering engine with a smoother feel when zooming in and out. Also screen updates tend to be done for the whole screen at once rather than in a tiled fashion.
- It includes the ability to give directions.
- It has traffic information for some locations.
Google My Maps
- This is the new Google My Maps, not the classic version. It was formerly Google Maps Engine Lite, and still has references to the old name of “My Places” which was the tie to Google Earth.
- The new My Maps lacks many of the features of Google Maps, including dynamic changes, personal features, Street View, 3D imagery, tilt, Google Moon, Google Mars, and traffic information.
- They have just recently added a limited ability to import KML – but, KML import has limitations (see this help page at bottom). You can still import KML with the older My Maps/Places and then import the map into the new My Maps. You can also export the map in KML so you can view it in Google Earth. If you choose the network link version you won’t be able to view off line. (See help page).
- It has 9 basic base maps available, with each one having optional settings, such as turning off the streets or other features.
- Although you can add directions as part of your map, a user viewing your shared map cannot get directions.
- It provides the ability to create your own map, including points, lines, polygons, and directions – this is, after all, its primary purpose. But, the user interface is different from the classic version.
- It allows you to share the map in either editable form with collaborators, or in read only form. You can share with individuals or with the public.
- It includes tools to measure distances and areas. Note that measuring areas in Google Earth is only possible in the paid version Google Earth Pro.
Above: Google Maps
1. More information about a place.
2. Directions and Traffic data
3. Save as favorite in your personal map.
4. Street View, photos and reviews.
5. Related places have been shown. We clicked a stadium, so other stadiums and football clubs were highlighted.
6. Limited 3D viewing similar to Google Earth including 3D Cities, Moon/Mars.
Above: Google My Maps
1. Fewer options on a selected place.
2. Topology base map, not available in Google Maps.
3. Limited ability to import/export KML for use with Google Earth.
4. Alternative view is ‘Satellite’ view and not ‘Earth’ view.
5. Fewer controls.
It is actually possible to preview a My Maps map in Google Maps, but I could not find a way to share one in that way.
The takeaway from all this? Do not expect the users of your My Maps creations to have the same experience they would in Google Maps on the desktop. It is a different product with a different engine under the hood. If you use Google Earth to create your mapping content, you may find limitations in importing the KML to the new My Maps verses the classic version. Similarly, the export of KML is different from the classic version.
[Update: Thanks to GEB reader Marko Zlatic for pointing out that Google Maps' Earth view can be rotated and tilted freely by holding down the Ctrl key (in Windows, I assume the Command key works on Mac) contrary to the statement in the post above that it is restricted.]
Early this month we released a KML demarcating the areas covered with the new 3D mesh that Google has been rolling out in Google Earth. It has proved quite popular, with readers regularly letting us know of new areas they have found.
Street View coverage has been expanding, with the most significant gains in Argentina and Malaysia.
As far as we are aware, Google have not done any significant updates to satellite or aerial imagery this month.
We really liked the story about Skybox Imaging capturing the Burning Man festival on multiple days and producing animated gifs from the results. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out their official blog post with many more animations like the one below.
One of a number of animated gifs created by Skybox Imaging.
We enjoyed looking at the 3D imagery that Google is rolling out and having a deeper look at what you can see in it and what problems it has, and why.
The Cruise ship Richard With, one of several cruise ships we looked at in Bergen, Norway.
If aircraft moved during the image capturing, the result is ghostly looking 3D images.
Another interesting story was about a mural of Google Earth in Chanute, Kansas, that is visible in the Google Earth satellite imagery. Read more in the post to find out why it was made.
The Google Earth mural as seen in Google Earth.
We also took a look at the Ground Truth project and how Google creates the Google Maps data and keeps it up to date.
Google Maps contains a lot more than just street names.
What were your favorite stories of the month?
When Google first announced the automatically generated 3D imagery, they said it was generated via stereophotogrammetry from aerial imagery. In our recent post about 3D imagery featuring cruise ships, we explained that it involves taking pictures from different angles and using that to automatically generate the 3D structure. The result of this is that moving objects cannot be captured by this technique. To understand the implications, lets have a look at a few examples around Charles de Gaulle Airport near Paris, France.
Above left: A moving aircraft on the runway has no 3D at all. Above right: A stationary aircraft is in 3D.
When the aircraft moved during image capturing, we get ghostly effects.
The technique used for creating the 3D does not handle over hangs at all well, which is one reason for even stationary aircraft not looking very good. It is also very noticeable on bridges, and the way trees tend to look like bushes with vertical sides rather than a trunk with overhanging branches.
This water tower demonstrates the problem with overhangs. Above left: Water tower in Street View. Above right: Water tower in 3D.
The water tower above shows six distinct images were used to create the faces of the tower, and possibly a seventh for the top. Two of the faces have much greener grass, and the towers shadow is in a completely different direction so they were taken at a different time of day, from the other four faces.
We have put all the above locations into a KML file. It also includes a number of other notable locations around the world, demonstrating that for intricate structures, Google often manually improves on the models. This is one reason why certain locations take longer to release than others. Bridges, particularly, seem to get a lot of attention, so cities with a large river and lots of bridges can expect to take longer than others.
For more interesting effects, look at one of the above aircraft in Google Maps Earth View by clicking here then try tilting the view and watch the aircraft disappear. Next, rotate the view and see how the aircraft is only partly there.
Also have a look at this aircraft. Note how the same aircraft is parked there in overhead view and the tilted view, but as you rotate, the baggage trucks are in different locations.
If you do not see the compass and ’tilt’ buttons in Google Maps, then it is most likely that you are in Maps’ Lite mode. You can find the minimum system requirements for seeing 3D in Google Maps here.
Argentina has just been added to Street View and there has been a significant increase in the coverage in Malaysia. Thanks to GEB reader Dave for letting us know. Earlier in the Week, the territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands were added. Thanks to GEB readers Martin and Kyle. GEB reader Dave also tells us some locations in the US have been added, including Mason and Grand Ledge, Michigan. If you know of any other areas, please let us know in the comments.
Street View coverage in Argentina and Malaysia.
The last major update we reported were the additions of Cambodia and Indonesia last month. Google, as far as we are aware, do not publish a list of changes, but they do have a map of the current coverage. Wikipedia maintains a useful timeline of updates.
Despite being recently released, a few locations in Argentina contain historical Street View. According to Wikipedia Google announced in September 2013 that Street View would be coming to Argentina, so it appears that the cars have been driving for the past year, as confirmed by the dates for the location below.
This location in Buenos Aires was photographed eight times in the last year.
See the seasons change in historical Street View.
Back in 2007 Google first introduced My Maps which allowed anyone to create and share their own maps directly in the Google Maps interface. Since then Google Maps has received a significant upgrade which went live for all users in February this year. The older version, now referred to as ‘classic Google Maps’, still exists and if necessary you can switch back to it by clicking on the question mark in the lower right hand corner of the new Maps, and selecting ‘Return to classic Google Maps’.
Separately, Google created Google Maps Engine, formerly known as Google Earth Builder, which was initially targeted at enterprise customers and later extended for use by nonprofits and researchers in the Google Earth Outreach program. In March last year, Google introduced Maps Engine Lite, a free version of Maps Engine. In October last year, it introduced Maps Engine Pro, a paid for version targeted at small businesses. These last two products were recently renamed My Maps Pro, and My Maps.
Maps Gallery is the place to find maps that users have created and shared publicly.
People who had created custom maps were, until recently, mostly still using the classic My Maps. However, Google is encouraging users to switch over to the new My Maps, and in the near future will transition everyone automatically.
One such user is George Stiller, the creator of MyReadingMapped, an excellent site with a lot of Maps content that we have featured no less than 17 times in the past. For a list of those articles, click here. George decided last week to take the plunge and switch over to the new maps before being automatically upgraded. He has blogged about his experience and I highly recommend that anyone who is facing the upgrade read through his blog posts so that you know what to expect.
After our post on drones, GEB reader Satyen Sarhad (creator of Geoception that we looked at back in 2012), pointed us to a couple of Ground Control Station systems for drones that make excellent use of the Google Earth plugin.
Open source software HappyKillmore’s Ground Control Station is focused on being easy to use and working well on low resolution screens. The primary purpose of the software appears to be to monitor a drone in flight. It displays the data that is received from the drone on the various instruments displayed and also shows the position, attitude and path of the drone in the Google Earth plugin display. You can also download a number of 3D models of drones for use in the software. It can show a live video feed from the drone. Although it can be used to set up a mission with way points, it doesn’t appear to allow direct manual control of the drone.
Chase Camera view
Above: HappyKillmore’s Ground Control Station in action.
Another YouTube video with a vertical perspective showing the flight path can be found here.
Open source project QGroundControl allows you to create a mission by setting way-points by clicking directly on the Google Earth plugin.
Above: QGroundControl Ground Control Station features.
Check out their website for more videos showing its capabilities.
Both programs make good use of the capabilities of the Google Earth plugin, including different perspectives, the ability to work offline and the ability to display 3D models. Also of note is that they use the plugin directly and are not dependent on web browser support, so they should continue to work even if web browsers start to drop support for the plugin.