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The amazing things about Google Earth
Mis à jour : il y a 2 heures 18 min

Tesla powers an island

ven 25-11-2016

Tesla has recently agreed to merge with Solar City. To help publicise the merger, Solar City recently published this YouTube Video about a solar installation using Tesla’s ‘power pack’ batteries that now powers the island of Ta’u in American Samoa.

In Google Earth we can see the solar array under construction:

Ta’u is not the first island to be powered by solar. The nearby Island of Tokelau has been powered by solar since 2013. Sadly, the imagery is a bit old (a recurring theme in this post) and we cannot see the solar panels. The Danish island of Samso claims to be the first island in the world to go 100% renewable, but we could not find any imagery of their wind turbines.

A common complaint about renewables such as solar and wind, is what to do when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. Tesla solves this problem with batteries. But another island, El Hierro, one of the Canary Islands, uses pumped water storage combined with wind turbines.

Moving away from islands, we had a look at this Wikipedia list of the largest photovoltaic power stations in the world (over 100 MW). Solar has really taken off around the world in the last few years, and Google Earth imagery can’t keep up. The second on the list, Kamuthi Solar Power Project, was built in just a few months between June and September 2016 and no sign of it can be seen in current Google Earth imagery. Top of the list is Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, China, which can be seen in Landsat imagery when zoomed out, but as you zoom in to higher resolution satellite imagery, it disappears, as the high resolution imagery was captured before it was built.

Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, China.

We have put together this KML file which includes the above mentioned islands as well as the list from Wikipedia where coordinates are given.

The post Tesla powers an island appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Creating Thanksgiving cards with Google Earth

jeu 24-11-2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today we are having a look at how to make your very own Thanksgiving card in Google Earth. This is based on a card Frank created back in 2006 and the instructions come from last year’s Thanksgiving post.

Firstly, you need an image with your Thanksgiving greeting. The easiest is to simply find a suitable image by doing a Google image search for ‘Thanksgiving’. Keep in mind that there may be copyright restrictions on such images, so they should really only be for personal use. Alternatively, you can get a bit more personal by creating your own image. That way you can write your own unique message. Ideally, you want to end up with an image that is roughly the correct proportions for the location you want to display it and also has a transparent background. Keep in mind that to use transparent backgrounds you need to save the image as a .png or .gif. We used Microsoft Word to create the image then took a screen shot and used Gimp to give it a transparent background. We used some clipart from

Next, you simply create an image overlay in Google Earth (click this icon on the toolbar). Adjust its size and location to suit and select your image to be shown.

If you wish to send your greeting to someone else, be sure to save the image overlay as a KMZ file, so that it includes the image in the file. KML files do not include images.

If you want to go all out, you could also decorate the sky, as we did for Halloween. Just download this file and replace the image in the overlay with your own Thanksgiving themed image.

An updated version showing how easy it is to do. See it for yourself in Google Earth with this KMZ file

We also came across this interesting post, which features a KML file exploring the history of Thanksgiving.

The post Creating Thanksgiving cards with Google Earth appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

The story of Saroo Brierley now featured in Google Earth

mer 23-11-2016

Google has just updated the ‘Voyager’ layer to Edition 3. As soon as you open Google Earth on your desktop you will see a window featuring the story of Saroo Brierly. We have featured Saroo’s story a number of times in the past. In summary, he got on a train as a child in India and got lost. He was subsequently adopted by a Tasmanian couple. When he grew up, he managed to find his original home and family with the use of Google Earth. See the new Google Earth Tour for the full story. (NOTE: you can keep the window from appearing by turning off the “Voyager” layer before you exit Google Earth).

Saroo wrote the book ‘A Long Way Home’ about his experiences. It has since been made into the movie ‘Lion’ opening in cinemas from November 25th, 2016. The film stars Dev Patel (of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ fame), Rooney Mara, David Wenham and Nicole Kidman.

The updated Voyager layer also contains two sub layers: 3D cities and Satellite imagery updates. The 3D cities layer is not worth bothering with, as it only shows a subset of recent additions to the 3D imagery. If you want a comprehensive map then rather use our KML file.

The ‘Satellite imagery updates’ layer is certainly interesting, but again, is far from comprehensive, representing most likely only a single update, probably in late October or early November. The imagery featured is from a wide variety of dates, but mostly August to October, 2016, but it is not complete even for those months. Cape Town, for instance, has imagery from October that is not shown in the layer.

The voyager layers were first added to Google Earth in celebration of its 10th anniversary in June last year. Edition 2 was released in September of the same year and this is the first update since then. Sadly, Google has removed both previous editions.

The post The story of Saroo Brierley now featured in Google Earth appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

3D Buildings in Flight Simulator in Google Earth Pro

mar 22-11-2016

Thank you to GEB reader Paul Moskowitz for bringing to our attention the fact that opening the flight simulator in Google Earth Pro automatically turns off the 3D buildings layer. The reason for this is that back in 2008 Google was concerned that showing 3D buildings in Flight Simulator mode would be a performance problem for some computers, so, with the release of Google Earth 4.3 they set the 3D buildings layer to be automatically disabled. At some point they reversed that decision, probably due to user complaints or the fact that computer performance has significantly increased since then, and they removed the setting from the standard version of Google Earth. However, it would appear that they forgot to do the same in Google Earth Pro. At the time, Google Earth Pro was a paid for product and thus was used only by people wanting specific features found only in Google Earth Pro. However, in January 2015, Google decided to make Google Earth Pro free and since then more and more people are using Google Earth Pro and ditching the standard version altogether. You can, however, have them both installed at the same time if you wish.

The result is that more people will be trying out the Google Earth Flight Simulator in Google Earth Pro, so we thought it would be a good time to relook at a workaround that Frank posted in 2008 for getting the 3D buildings back in Flight Simulator mode. These steps must be repeated each time you enter Flight Simulator mode:

  1. Enter Flight Simulator mode – Select Tools->Enter Flight Simulator (Windows/Linux) or Options->Enter Flight Simulator (Mac)
    or Ctrl + Alt + A(Windows/Linux) or + Option + A (Mac)
    Optional: fly to a city which has 3D buildings (grab our KML map to find out where).

  2. Hit SPACE to pause the flight simulator.

  3. Open the SidebarSidebar shortcut – Press Ctrl + Alt + B (Windows/Linux)
    or + Option + B (Mac) to bring up the sidebar.

  4. Turn on 3D Buildings – Turn these on in the Layers pane in the lower left after the sidebar opens.

  5. Turn Off SidebarIMPORTANT – before resuming the flight simulator, turn off the sidebar by hitting the sidebar shortcut from step 2.

  6. Resume flight – Now you can resume flying the flight simulator by hitting the SPACE key and the 3D buildings should stay on for your current flight.

NOTE: – See GEB’s Tips on Using Flight Simulator.

The post 3D Buildings in Flight Simulator in Google Earth Pro appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

The Kaikoura Earthquake Landslides

lun 21-11-2016

On November 14, 2016, the South Island of New Zealand experienced a 7.8 magnitude earthquake named the Kaikoura Earthquake after the town of Kaikoura near the quake’s epicentre. The affected region is mountainous with steep slopes and the earthquake resulted in a large number of landslides, including creating some landslide dams (a topic we have covered in the past).

The Landslide Blog has done a number of posts on the Kaikoura landslides (1, 2, 3 and 4). It also mentions this article, which shows a map of the locations of the landslides so far identified using Sentinel 2 imagery.

We thought it would be interesting to examine the sentinel 2 Imagery in Google Earth. The image in question has quite a lot of cloud cover, but in the gaps between the clouds we can see the scars of a large number of landslides. It must be noted that landslides appear to be common in the region, with many landslide scars being visible in older imagery, too. Here are a couple of ‘before and afters’ showing just how many landslides there were in some places.
.sliders img{max-width:none; }

After image: Copernicus Sentinel data, 2016.

After image: Copernicus Sentinel data, 2016.

We processed the Sentinel 2 imagery using GeoSage’s Spectral Discovery.

To explore the Sentinel 2 imagery for yourself using Google Earth download this KML file

jQuery(document).ready(function() {jQuery(function(){jQuery('.sliders').each(function(i){jQuery(this).beforeAfter({imagePath: '/js/utils/',showFullLinks : false});});});});

The post The Kaikoura Earthquake Landslides appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

A Google Earth Photo tool

ven 18-11-2016

GEB reader Michael Lee is sharing a free tool he created for importing geotagged photos into Google Earth. It is only available for Windows. It comes in two versions, a standalone version and one with an installer

It is very easy to use. Rather than opening the program directly, you drag and drop a photo, or a folder containing multiple photos onto the program icon or a shortcut to the program. It then creates a KML and opens it in Google Earth. The KML shows camera icons where your photos are. To see a photo when you click on an icon, you first need to save the KML file into the folder where your photos are and reopen it in Google Earth. Note that you cannot drag and drop multiple photos at once, but rather put them into a folder which you can drag and drop.

Note that the installer can create an icon on the desktop which you can drag and drop photos onto, but it does not create a start menu item as the program is not designed to be run by clicking directly on its icon. The installer also adds an entry in the ‘Send to’ section of the right-click menu so you can simply right-click on a photo or folder and select Send to->GEPix.

We created a similar tool using JavaScript which you can find here. Our version creates photo overlays rather than icons with photos in the popup.

Michael Lee is the creator of GPStamper, a tool which takes geolocation information and writes it into an image as text.

The post A Google Earth Photo tool appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Releases Google Earth VR for HTC Vive

mer 16-11-2016

Google has released a free new version of Google Earth on a totally different computing platform: Virtual Reality (VR). Google imaginatively calls it Google Earth VR. Specifically, for now, this version is for the HTC Vive which is the only consumer platform with dedicated 3D controllers for interacting in VR. Download link for GEVR (from the official Steam page). You can watch the Google Earth VR demonstration video from the Google announcement below:

Based on my reviewing it today, Google is taking great advantage of VR with the new version. You can view the Earth, and all its places, in an entirely different perspective. Because, now Google Earth’s 3D content is fully stereoscopic 3D, and immerses you in cities, valleys, mountains, etc. You can use the 3D controller to fly yourself around, or drag the sun to get a different sun angle, or see the stars at night above your chosen landscape or city. Google has chosen to give you a non-human scale, so when you are viewing places like cities – you feel like a giant who can reach out and hug a skyscraper, or give a hug to Half Dome or the Matterhorn. Since the Vive allows you to move around your room, you can literally walk around mountains, canyons, buildings, and more. [EDIT: It is possible to change setting in the menu options so you can feel more human scale sized].

Google starts the program by offering you a basic tour which flies you to several well-known locations on Earth. The first time you experience it, you will probably have a strong “Wow” feeling as the scenery is stereoscopic 3D, and you can look in any direction. I sure had that reaction myself! In addition, Google uses 3D audio and music for the tours. In some places you hear city street sounds, in one you hear the church bells of a nearby cathedral, and in nature shots you might hear some wind or car noises from a nearby highway. It definitely adds to the realism of the scenes.

After the tour, you end up with a full view of the Earth in space (an amazing experience), and are then given tips on using the controllers to drag the Earth, and fly down to see whatever place you like. You can also pop up a menu that gives you choices of other tours, and selections of cities and places you might want to visit. The controls also enable you to take screenshots. One of my favorite features is that you can point the controller at the sun and drag it across the sky, or below the horizon to make the sky switch to night (where you will see the stars and milky way in all its glory).

There’s more to learn about the interfaces than you might first realize. One surprise I got is that if you point at the controller in one of your hands (the one which shows a globe with the current position) with the other controller, the globe grows to a larger version of the Earth with a pin showing your current position. You can then use the other controller to rotate the earth, and point at a rough position on the globe and drop a new pin to fly to that location. This is a very cool feature and immediately reminded me of the scene in the book “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson, that one of the original developers of Google Earth said was originally an inspiration for the first version of our favorite program.

Google Earth VR controllers selecting location

It’s great to see Google finally release something new and exciting for Google Earth. A new version of Google Earth has been rumored for over two years for the desktop/mobile platforms that will be a complete re-write. But, we have yet to see even a test version in the wild for the new Google Earth. So, we are still waiting.

Since I’ve been spending the last year working with VR technologies, I’m particularly glad to see Google Earth for this new exciting immersive platform. They have released the program for the HTC Vive via the Steam gaming platform (the Vive was largely developed by the makers of Steam at Valve Corporation), which is the biggest platform for VR content. Considering the cost for HTC Vive ($800 – not including a beefy PC and graphics card), and it having been released less than a year ago, there are estimated to be fewer than 300,000 Vive owners at this point. Still, for Google to release now is a big statement about the future of VR. I suspect versions for Oculus Rift and Sony Playstation VR, and quite probably for Google’s new Daydream View VR platform.

Some other observations about Google Earth VR:

1) They use a “comfort mode” technique (dwhich you can turn off in the menus) which shrinks your view while you are “flying” in Google Earth. This minimizes your peripheral vision and thereby helps lower visual-induced motion sickness. It’s actually quite effective. I tried turning it off in the menu and definitely felt less comfortable when flying inside VR. Once you stop moving, you get the full 360 panorama back, and you can still swivel your view while flying.

2) If you are looking to buy the Vive, HTC is now bundling Google Earth VR with it. Which is kind of silly when you consider its a free app, so it’s not exactly a value add.

3) An important note is that the Google Earth 3D terrain is simplified in in detail for GEVR compared to what’s available in the desktop version of Google Earth. [EDIT: Turns out GEVR made me realize Google at some point reduced 3D terrain fidelity for some places where formerly they had higher resolution data. After checking the desktop I found both GEVR and desktop GE now have lower resolution in formerly higher resolution locations.]

4) If you are standing in your room with your Vive (as most Vive users do), then you will notice you never are lower than about 50 meters off the ground. If you want to look closer at the ground, you can get your head closer to the ground (where you are standing) and look closer. This might not be obvious at first, so I thought I would mention it.

The post Google Releases Google Earth VR for HTC Vive appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

The Dolores, Uruguay Tornado

mer 16-11-2016

We have often looked at tornado tracks for the US and we recently looked at one in China but this is the first time we have come across one in South America.

According to Wikipedia it was an F3 rated tornado that struck the town of Dolores, Uruguay on April, 15th 2016. It destroyed at least 400 homes and buildings, killing five people and injuring more than 250.

Here are some ‘before and afters’ showing the damage caused:

.sliders img{max-width:none; }




Unfortunately Google has not updated the ‘historical imagery’ layer since June, so we cannot see all the imagery. Google has chosen only parts of the relevant imagery for the default layer. This is most likely because the other parts have cloud cover.

You can see a video of the tornado here.

To find the location in Google Earth download this KML file

jQuery(document).ready(function() {jQuery(function(){jQuery('.sliders').each(function(i){jQuery(this).beforeAfter({imagePath: '/js/utils/',showFullLinks : false});});});});

The post The Dolores, Uruguay Tornado appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Lightning strikes map in Google Earth

mar 15-11-2016

We recently came across this article which talks about a study that uses lightning monitoring to better predict the weather. The study used data from the University of Washington based World Wide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN), which gathers information about lightning strikes around the world using a network of ground based censors. The WWLLN website shows animated maps of recent lightning strikes, but also provides this KML file which shows 1 hour of global data ending 6 hours ago in Google Earth.

One thing I have personally noticed while living in Cape Town is how rare lightning is here compared to Zambia. This observation is borne out by this map that Frank put in Google Earth back in 2006 using a NASA created map.

The post Lightning strikes map in Google Earth appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Various new sights in Google Earth imagery

lun 14-11-2016

Today we are having a look at various sights that can be seen in recent additions to Google Earth’s imagery.

Puma Energy plant explosion
On August 18th, 2016 there was an explosion at the Puma Energy plant in Puerto Sandino, Nicaragua.
.sliders img{max-width:none; }

‘Before and after’ showing the two tanks that exploded.

North Korean Floods
In late August, 2016, Typhoon Lionrock caused flooding in Japan, China, Russia and most notably, North Korea, along the Korean-Chinese border. According to Wikipedia, the North Korean flooding killed at least 138 people, and destroyed more than 35,000 homes, leaving over 100,000 people homeless.

Here are some ‘before and after’s’ showing some of the houses washed away. Be sure to explore the area in Google Earth, switching between current imagery and ‘historical imagery’ to see the changes to the river channel.


Folk Village in North Korea removed
A folk village, (or folklore park) has recently been dismantled, reportedly because it reminded North Korean leader Kim Jong-un of his uncle who was executed in 2013.

Gay Pride Parade, New York
In New York, we can see the Gay Pride Parade that took place on 26th June, 2016.

Find the above locations in Google Earth with this KML file.

jQuery(document).ready(function() {jQuery(function(){jQuery('.sliders').each(function(i){jQuery(this).beforeAfter({imagePath: '/js/utils/',showFullLinks : false});});});});

The post Various new sights in Google Earth imagery appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Street View comes to Albania and Montenegro

ven 11-11-2016

Thank you to GEB reader Adino for letting us know that Albania and Montenegro have recently received Street View.

Street View changes between October 3rd, 2016 and November 11th, 2016. Red: new Street View, Blue: previously existing Street View.
Larger version

Our ‘changes’ map above also picks out some other interesting features. Google has added land to the northern coast of Greenland. This may be due to the availability of better satellite imagery or it may have to do with melting ice making the coast line more visible. Also, Google Maps has recently started showing more of the blue circles for user submitted photos even when zoomed out.

Indonesia and the Philippines have also seen significant additions to their Street View coverage.

Google has also added an ‘expand’ button to the overview map in the Google Maps version of Street View which allows a split-screen mode. This makes exploring Street View much easier.

Beautiful stone paved Streets seem to be quite common in Albania. See in Google Maps

Aman Sveti Stefan, and island hotel in Montenegro. See in Google Maps

The post Street View comes to Albania and Montenegro appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Map Maker merging with Google Maps

jeu 10-11-2016

Google has just announced that Google Map Maker is being retired or, to put it another way, merged into Google Maps. Google Maps has slowly been gaining features that allow users giving feedback to provide more detailed information and Google plans to continue this trend until Google Maps’ functionality matches what is currently available in Google Map Maker. The Google Map Maker site will be shut down in March 2017.

Google Map Maker is not just a map editing tool, it also provides a community of dedicated mappers who provide support and a robust approval mechanism. Google suggests that members of this community move to the Local Guides Programme.

For those who don’t know much about Google Map Maker, it is a platform that allows members of the public to edit almost any feature in Google Maps. These edits then go through an approval process often largely managed by Google Map Maker users rather than Google employees. It has always been restricted to particular countries, but the list of countries has changed over time and has often included most parts of the world. A very significant proportion of the information you see in Google Maps came from members of the public via Google Map Maker, although this varies significantly by country and it is difficult to know just how much. In some countries, organisations have been formed around Google Map Maker by members of the public. See this Wikipedia page about the group Mapping Bangladesh for example.

Google has not been publicising Map Maker much for quite some time, preferring most feedback to come via the Google Maps interface. Google Map Maker has always been intended for those willing to put in extra effort, but for those willing to learn how to use it, it provides many map editing tools that are currently not available via Google Maps.

Another product that Google recently announced it would be merging with Google Maps is Panoramio.

The post Google Map Maker merging with Google Maps appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Animating in Google Earth – Part 3: the time toolbar

mer 09-11-2016

This is the third post in our series on animating in Google Earth

Today we are looking at how the Google Earth time toolbar works.

The Google Earth time toolbar is used in three different instances and works slightly differently in each case:

  • When you open ‘Historical imagery’.
  • When you turn on the ‘show sunlight’ option (rising sun icon on the Google Earth toolbar).
  • When you open a KML file that has time data attached to its contents. The time data for a given item may be either a specific point in time or a span of time.

  1. The ‘+’ and ‘-‘ symbols allow you to zoom in or out of the toolbar. This is especially useful if you have a large KML file with a lot of time-stamped features and need to select a specific time, or in ‘historical imagery’ when there are a large number of images for the location you are viewing.
  2. The play / pause button causes the toolbar to automatically run from left to right (past to future) along the timeline. How fast it plays and whether or not it repeats depend on the settings discussed below.
  3. The spanner icon opens the settings window.
  4. The ‘x’ closes the time toolbar. When you are in ‘historical imagery’ or ‘sunlight’ mode, this has the effect of turning off the feature and going back to the default view. When you have a time-stamped KML item selected the ‘x’ is greyed out and you cannot close the toolbar.
  5. and 6. The ends of the toolbar have buttons that move the slider by increments. What an increment is depends on the mode you are in. In historical imagery mode this moves between available images. In the other two modes it moves by a fraction (about one sixtieth) of the toolbar.
    The date represented by each end is shown below the ends.
  6. and 8. In ‘historical imagery’ mode and ‘sunlight’ mode, there is a single slider showing the point in time being displayed. The slider can be dragged along the toolbar to show a different time or you can click on any point on the toolbar to jump directly to that time.
    Understanding the slider is critical for time based animations.
    When you have a KML file with time-stamped data, then the slider has two parts. When they are separated, Google Earth displays all items with a time-stamp between the two sliders. If your data has single time-stamps then it is necessary to separate the two sliders a bit or you will never see the data. How much you separate them affects how long each time-stamped item will show for during an animation. If your data has time ranges instead of single time-stamps then it is better to have the sliders clamped together.

Time-stamped KMLs to experiment with include the animated earthquake data from the USGS, such as Past 30 Days, M2.5+ Earthquakes, animated and the U.S. Presidents tours we looked at yesterday.

The settings dialog box allows you to select the start and end times shown on the toolbar, select the timezone to use, adjust the speed of the animation (when you press the play button) and whether or not to repeat the animation. The speed adjustment is just a slider and affects how quickly the slider gets from one end of the time toolbar to the other. It appears to be unrelated to the actual length of time being displayed. This can make it difficult to make animations with an exact speed.

The post Animating in Google Earth – Part 3: the time toolbar appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Past US Presidents with Google Earth

mar 08-11-2016

With the US presidential election taking place today, it is a good time to learn more about the past presidents of the United States. We came across this page by Google, showcasing the Google Earth API. However, as the Google Earth API no-longer works in most browsers, it is better to explore it in Google Earth using the KML files provided.

For your convenience we have put all the KML files into a single file that you can download here. We also fixed a few KML errors in the file so that the timeline feature works properly. You can click on the ‘play’ symbol in the time toolbar to see the progression of new states being added to the union over time.

The post Past US Presidents with Google Earth appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Animating in Google Earth Part 2 – Importing Models

lun 07-11-2016

This is the second in a series of posts discussing animating in Google Earth that we started last week. Today we are not looking at animation itself, but how to get a model into Google Earth that you can animate.

3D models can be obtained from a variety of sources. One resource is the SketchUp 3D Warehouse, which has a large number of models, including most of the old style 3D buildings found in the Google Earth 3D buildings layer. When downloading them, they are offered in a variety of formats, sometimes including KMZ ready for Google Earth. If that is not available try ‘Collada file’ if is available. If the only option is SketchUp file format then you will need to the free version of SketchUp to convert it to a Collada file.

There are many other sites with 3D models available such as this one. Where possible you should look for files in Collada format ( .dae file extension). Other formats can be converted but you will need to find the appropriate software first.

We found this 3D model, created by NASA, of the Mars rover Curiosity.

It is in a format used by the open source 3D modelling program Blender. So we installed Blender, opened the model then exported it to Collada format. Unfortunately, it would not immediately open correctly in Google Earth, as Google Earth’s Collada support is somewhat limited. From the KML documentation:

Google Earth supports the COLLADA common profile, with the following exceptions:
* Google Earth supports only triangles and lines as primitive types. The maximum number of triangles allowed is 21845.
* Google Earth does not support animation or skinning.
* Google Earth does not support external geometry references.

The key here is the lack of support of a feature in the Collada format called a polylist. Luckily, in many cases it is simply a matter of editing the Collada file in a text editor and replacing all instances of the word ‘polylist’ with ‘triangles’ (it is also necessary to make sure ‘triangulate’ is ticked in the export options in Blender).

We were then able to simply drag and drop it into Google Earth.

As you can see below, however, it has some purple cubes labelled ‘Don’t render’ from Blender that we don’t want.

We will have to analyse the Collada file and see if we can remove them.

Another problem we encountered is that Google Earth does not automatically zoom in on the model, and if it is very small relative to your view, when you drag the model into Google Earth it can be difficult to find the model.

The post Animating in Google Earth Part 2 – Importing Models appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Animating in Google Earth

ven 04-11-2016

This is the first in a series of posts on animating in Google Earth. It is generally well known that Google Earth can display 3D models provided in KML files. Less well known is that it is possible to do basic animation in Google Earth. We have looked at a number of amazing Google Earth animations over the years, but relative to the other content for Google Earth, animations are extremely rare. There are a number of reasons for this, including a lack of good information regarding how to create these animations and easy to use tooling.

Today we are exploring the three main types of animation and their pros and cons.

In general, none of the animation methods are trivial, and almost all require some programming knowledge or custom tools to achieve a reasonable animation. Google does not provide any tools for creating animations but they do provide basic documentation for each mechanism.


Google Earth tours provide a mechanism for animating models. The animations are defined within the KML as documented here. Although KML can be typed out by hand this is completely impractical and it is necessary to have a tool that generates the KML as required.

– The person creating the tour has near complete control over what the user sees. This can be useful as it is quite easy to loose track of a moving model in Google Earth.
– Smooth animations along a line or constant rotation are handled automatically and need a lot less lines of KML than the time-based method.

– The complete control by the tour creator comes at the cost of practically no control by the user. The tour can be paused so the user can look around, but the user cannot change the view much while the tour is playing so live animations cannot be fully explored.

When to use
This is best used for models that move over a long distance that the viewer would easily lose track of. It is also ideal when you want to include other information that is best suited to being presented in a tour.

Steven Ho’s Maokong Gondola of Taipei

To see it in Google Earth, download the KML from Steven’s blog.

Captain James Cook’s exploration of Australia by Colin Hazlehurst. (not working, but you can see them on YouTube).

Time-based animations

This uses the Google Earth time toolbar in conjunction with time stamps in a KML file. The relevant KML documentation can be found here.

– This technique does not take control of the user’s view point so they are free to move around and look at the animation from different angles.

– It does not have a smooth animation feature, so smooth animations require a lot of frames, which results in very large KML files for long animations.
– The time toolbar can be confusing and users may not even realise that they must use it to view the animation. In addition, the speed of the animation is set by the user, and achieving a specific speed is difficult.

When to use
This is best suited to short, repeating animations.

The London Eye animation by Barnabu.
Turn off the Google Earth 3D buildings layer for best results.

This technique is also used for animations that do not involve models, such as the USGS animated KMLs showing earthquakes over time.

Google Earth API

This uses the Google Earth plugin. Animations can be directly controlled via JavaScript in real time.

This provides the greatest level of control and allows very complex animations.

The Google Earth API has been deprecated and could be shut down at any time. In addition, it is only supported in a few browsers (Firefox for example).

The Monster Milktruck consists of a driving simulator in Google Earth.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Tornado tracks in Google Earth imagery

jeu 03-11-2016

Last month we imported some placemarks from Wikipedia showing locations for all recorded tornadoes in the US for the last few years. We were hoping it would be useful for finding imagery of tornado tracks. However, it did not prove useful as the placemarks are based on reports of tornado sightings which are then later geocoded, probably based on the address provided by the person reporting it. This results in rather inaccurate locations overall.

So instead, we collected the locations of all the tornados we have covered in the past and also looked through the Google Earth historical imagery for more.

Tornado tracks. Red are tracks we have positively identified and blue are tracks we can see but have not yet matched to reported events.

We found the most tracks in Mississippi and Alabama. Although tornadoes are also common further north we believe that tornado tracks are much more visible in areas with forest than areas that are mostly open farmland. Damaged trees remain visible for a long time and are often cleared after the tornado, leaving visible strips of cleared land for years afterwards.

It is interesting that the majority of tracks follow approximately the same direction. Also interesting is just how long the tracks are. Many of them have clearly visible damage over 50 km and some more than 100 km.

To see the tracks in Google Earth, download this KML file. We have implemented it as a network linked KML file as we plan to update it over time.

Be sure to switch to historical imagery and check the appropriate dates to see relevant imagery for each tornado.

If any of our readers knows of more tornado tracks that are visible in Google Earth imagery, please let us know in the comments. We would especially love to find tracks in other countries as almost all of the identified tracks are in the US.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

More Italian earthquakes and the Google Earth earthquake layer not updating

mer 02-11-2016

Italy has again suffered a series of earthquakes, with the largest occurring this past Sunday, October 30th, 2016. The earthquakes were centred just north west of the locations of the August earthquakes. However, if you enable the Google Earth ‘Gallery->Earthquakes’ layer, there is no trace of either of these events. The earthquakes layer has always been restricted to large earthquakes, but the Sunday earthquakes at a preliminary magnitude 6.6s was the largest in Italy in 36 years. We also had a look for the Japanese Kumamoto Earthquake form April and that too is not in the layer, so it would appear the layer has not been updated for some time.

When layers like this are broken, Google should consider either fixing the layer, or, as they did with the weather layers, remove the layer altogethers so as to not cause confusion.

The data for the layer comes from the USGSs which provides KMLs of earthquake data which you can find here. Those KMLs are kept up to date and do show the recent Italian quakes, although a layer called ‘tectonic plates’ that is in the KMLs does not work.

Use the KMLs provided directly by the USGS to find earthquakes in Google Earth and not the built in layer.

Note that if you choose one of the animated KMLs, you must click the play button on the time toolbar in order to see the earthquake markers. You may also want to slightly separate the two sliders a in the time toolbar for the best results.

We have not yet found any imagery for these latest earthquakes available for Google Earth. However, the Copernicus Emergency Management Service does provide imagery in the form of downloadable images of the main affected areas. The images vary in quality and are mostly marked with damage assessments, so it is difficult to see the actual damage in the imagery. In addition, much of the imagery was captured and analysed before Sunday’s earthquake, which was the largest.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Residents of Mars part 2

mar 01-11-2016

This is part 2 of our list of Mars residents that we started last week. Since last week’s post some new imagery of the Schiaparelli landing site has been released. However, it is not yet available on the HiRISE download site. There is a marker showing that an image was captured of the location with the HiRISE camera, but as of this writing, there is a message saying that the image is currently unavailable.

Mars Pathfinder lander and Sojourner rover
Mars Pathfinder’s rover Sojourner was the first rover on Mars. However, it was relatively small at 65 cm long, 48 cm wide, 30 cm tall and weighing 10.5 kg. It can be seen near the lander in Google Mars imagery:

Yes, that’s as far as it got, in 83 sols (Martian days).

Parachute and backshell.

Viking 1 lander
The Viking 1 lander and its backshell are visible in Google Mars imagery, but we were unable to find its parachute.

Viking 1 lander

Viking 1 backshell

Viking 2 lander
The Viking 2 lander is just visible in Google Mars imagery, but we were able to find a better one which also shows the locations of the backshell and heat shield.

Top left: Backshell. Top right: Heat shield. Bottom: Viking 2 lander.

Mars 3 lander (USSR)
Google Mars does not have high resolution imagery of the Mars 3 lander, but we were able to find a HiRISE image of the parachute.

Mars 3 parachute.

Mars 6 lander (USSR)
There are several images of what is believed to be the Mars 6 lander’s crash site, but as far as we can tell, none of the lander’s components have been identified.

No imagery
It appears no high resolution imagery has been captured for the locations of:
* Mars Polar Lander
* Mars 2 lander (USSR)

To see all the locations above, including some imagery overlays and last week’s locations, download this KML file.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

The best of Google Earth for October 2016

lun 31-10-2016

The two biggest stories for this month were Hurricane Matthew (which caused major storm damage and flooding through the Caribbean and then up the east coast of the US), and an attempted landing on Mars.

There are two sets of post-Hurricane Matthews imagery available. The first set comes from Google Crisis Response and consists of satellite imagery from DigitalGlobe and Terra Bella of the Caribbean and the east coast of the US. See the imagery in Google Earth with this KML file. The second set of imagery is aerial imagery gathered by NOAA and covers the US east coast immediately after the hurricane and the flooding further inland in the following days. See the imagery in Google Earth with this KML file that we created. We describe how we created the second KML here and here.

The attempted Mars landing was unsuccessful as the lander, named Schiaparelli, crash landed. We had a look at its final resting place as well as various other rovers and landers on Mars. We also had a look at various versions of the track of the rover Curiosity and were also able to find the rover in recent HiRISE imagery.

It is Halloween today so check out Friday’s post to learn how to dress up Google Earth as a pumpkin and find some scary locations in Street View.
We had a look at two very large avalanches in Tibet using Sentinel 2 imagery.
We used Landsat and Sentinel imagery to have a look at some oil and sulphur fires in Iraq that have been started by retreating Islamic State forces.
After our success with getting the post-Hurricane Matthews NOAA imagery into Google Earth we also set up a KML file that displays Mapzen altitude tiles in Google Earth.
We had a look at some images known as ‘Little Planets’ created using Google Earth 3D imagery. The artist since contacted us and gave us two links to more ‘Little Planet’ images he has created. See them here and here.
Google announced that it is shutting down Panoramio. New signups and uploads will be stopped from November 4th, but the service should continue to function until November next year. Users can move their photos to Google Maps if they wish.
We had a look at various floods around the world as seen in Google Earth imagery. We looked at floods in Eastern Sudan, Skopje, Macedonia, Chetwynd, Canada, and Wuhan, China.
We took US tornado data found on Wikipedia and put it in Google Earth. It is an interesting collection, but has not proved useful in finding imagery of tornado tracks as the locations are rather inaccurate.
Google has made available Landsat and Sentinel 2 imagery on Google Cloud. The Landsat collection is much more comprehensive than the equivalent collection on Amazon Web Services. However, Google does not provide thumbnails for the imagery, whereas AWS does.
We had some fun turning the earth inside out by mapping every point to its antipode.
Google announced that it was dropping two of the weather layers from Google Earth.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones