Google Earth Blog
August saw a number of data updates from Google including new Street View imagery in Indonesia and Cambodia, and satellite imagery from around the globe. The launch by DigitalGlobe of their WorldView-3 satellite, and subsequent release of its first images, means the future of satellite imagery looks bright.
Here are some of my favorite stories of the month:
Four of the ten have 3D models in Google Earth
We also brought you a story about using Goats to combat wildfire in Southern California.
Which was your favorite story in August?
Burning Man is a cartographer’s nightmare, because it is a city that is built within a matter of days, lasts for a couple weeks, then completely disappears, only to re-emerge the next year in a slightly different place, with a slightly different layout, and altogether new street names.
The official website provides an official map for this year, and for previous years. However, there is an unnofficial version to be found on Google Maps Engine here. When viewed in Google Maps, it is rather clunky unless you deselect most of the points of interest. However, it can be viewed in Google Earth by downloading this KML file. The Google Maps street map has also been updated to this year’s layout and street names, so remember to turn on the ‘roads’ layer.
Also be sure to check out Google Earth’s historical imagery showing the event in 2006, 2009 (two different days), 2010 (four consecutive days) ,2012 and 2013.
You can also watch a live webcast of Burning Man on USTREAM. (Warning: includes audio and may contain bad language.)
We told you a couple of weeks ago about the launch of DigitalGlobe’s latest satellite, WorldView-3.
On Tuesday, August 18, less than two weeks after its launch, they released the first images from the satellite. Thanks to GEB reader Cesaley Sparks for alerting us to it. The satellite is capable of producing imagery at a resolution of 30 cm per pixel, but because of regulatory restrictions, they have to resample it to 40 cm before releasing it.
Here is a slideshow they created showing what you can see with 40cm resolution.
Digital Globe has also provided a number of images taken around the airport in Madrid, Spain. We have created image overlays in Google Earth which you can download below:
Image 1 (20Mb 4000 x 5000 pixels)
Image 2 (3.8Mb 2000 x 2000 pixels)
Image 3 (5.2Mb 2000 x 2000 pixels)
Image 4 (3.3Mb 2000 x 2000 pixels)
Image 5 (4.5Mb 2000 x 2000 pixels)
Image 6 (4.2Mb 2000 x 2000 pixels)
Image 7 (4.6Mb 2000 x 2000 pixels)
Image 8 (5.3Mb 2000 x 2000 pixels)
Image 9 (5.4Mb 2000 x 2000 pixels)
To my eyes, the image quality looks comparable to what is already in Google Earth at that location, which I believe is aerial imagery captured from aircraft. Although it will always be possible to get higher quality imagery from aircraft than from satellites, the big advantage of satellites is the global coverage and the regularity with which they can capture imagery. Despite the enormous cost of building and launching satellites, it is still considerably cheaper than a global fleet of aircraft constantly taking photos. The data sheet for WorldView-3 states that it is capable of capturing 680,000 km² per day. That seems a lot until you look up the surface area of the Earth and it comes to 510,072,000 km².
Another very interesting fact was that DigitalGlobe managed to capture images of WorldView-3’s launch using another of their satellites, WorldView-1. See the gif animation they made with the images here..
The post Digital Globe releases first images from WorldView-3 appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
The popular British TV Series “Dr Who” Series 8’s premiere episode aired on Saturday, August 23, 2014. The series features a blue British police box known as the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space).
If you search for the address “236 Earls Court Road W.8, London, United Kingdom”, in Google Earth and make sure you turn on you the 3D buildings layer, you can see a 3D model of the TARDIS as seen below. (Or you can fly straight to it using this KML file)
If you enter street view at the exact location of the TARDIS model, you can see the inside of the TARDIS – which is considerably larger than the outside.
If you look around the area in Street View you will see that there really is a blue police box at that location.
We have previously brought you other stories of Google Street view in unusual places such as under the sea, the temples of Angkor Wat and a corn maize, but this is the first instance of Street View in a part of the world that is technically ‘not of this world’. If you know of any other unusual instances of Street View please let us know in the comments.
We have brought you many stories in the past involving Google Earth and wildfire. For example, stories about people and organizations using Google Earth to monitor wildfires in progress, coordinate rescue operations, map global fire data and simulate forest fires.
But, prevention is better than cure, so to take it a step further, here is a story about how Shea Broussard and business partner Tony Shafer created FlameMapper.
Using historical data of fire paths, they map out the ideal places to graze the goats so as to stop wildfires from spreading. They use the Google Earth plugin to display the map on their website and use GPS and the map to decide where to place electric fencing which is moved around to control where the goats graze. The electric fencing also helps to keep mountain lions from eating the goats, but despite this they have lost 5 goats to a local mountain lion over the last 2 years.
The site also shows the current location of the goats. They do not track the mountain lions….
Has it worked? According to Shane:
We have yet to have a big wildfire come through the community. We are about 2 years overdue for a wildfire when you look at the fire history.”
Carefully planned grazing is not the only thing they are doing to prevent fire, they are also planting lots of Oak trees.
We are currently growing 12,000 Oak trees with the Los Angeles County Fire Department Forest Division. Oak trees simply reduce fire intensity. Reduced fire intensity can save lives.”
My sister is a farmer in Livingstone, Zambia, and she too uses goats for creating fire breaks. She doesn’t have anything as sophisticated as FlameMapper, but does use Google Earth and GPS for planning where to put the fire breaks.
With the successful launch of the imaging satellite WorldView-3 by DigitalGlobe recently, featuring the latest technology in satellite imaging, it is a good time to take a look at where it all started.
The very first aerial photograph was taken from balloon by the French photographer and balloonist Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, in 1858 over Paris, France. However, the photographs he produced no longer exist and therefore the earliest surviving aerial photograph is titled ‘Boston, as the Eagle and the Wild Goose See It’ and was taken by James Wallace Black in 1860, also from a balloon.
Kite aerial photography was pioneered by British meteorologist E.D. Archibald in 1882.
The most interesting method of aerial photography is pigeon photography, a technique invented in 1907.
By World War I aerial imagery taken from aircraft was being used for reconnaissance and the technology matured rapidly as a result.
The first images from space were taken in 1946 from a suborbital U.S.-launched V-2 rocket.
In 1972 the United States started the Landsat program, the largest program for acquisition of imagery of Earth from space.
Historical imagery was introduced to Google Earth with version 5 in 2009.
The oldest imagery that can currently be found in Google Earth is from 1930, near Toronto, Canada. To view it in Google Earth you need to turn on “Historical Imagery” pan to the region around Toronto, Canada, then move the slider all the way to the left and the imagery will show up as black and white areas, or simply download this KML file. There is also quite a lot of historical imagery from the Second World War in parts of Europe, with significant portions of the UK having imagery from 1945 or earlier.
It is important to note that although satellite imaging has many advantages, for the highest resolution aerial imagery, airplanes are still used today and most of the high resolution imagery in Google Earth was captured from aircraft.
We told you in April about Street View imagery in Cambodia around the temples of Angkor Wat. Now, Google have released imagery for much of the rest of Cambodia, as well as a significant amount in Indonesia, although the Indonesian imagery appears to be almost entirely on the islands of Java and Bali. Thanks to GEB reader IxBxTx for alerting us to the update.
According to this article Google set up a fleet of Street View cars in Indonesia, back in 2012. All the imagery I checked in both countries was dated some time in 2013, so maybe it has taken a while to process the imagery, or they had to wait for approval from local authorities. It apparently took 4 years to get approval in Greece which finally got Street View in June this year.
Interesting transportation in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
A scenic roundabout in Badung, Bali, Indonesia
Street View coverage for Cambodia. Note that Thailand already had Street View.
Street View coverage for Indonesia.
[Update: The map and KML in this post automatically updates as Google updates their Maps Gallery version. As of this update, the map being displayed is for August 13th, 2014.]
It appears Google pushed out some fresh imagery updates a couple of weeks ago. Thanks to sharp-eyed GEB reader ‘Maarten’ for letting us know about it.
To see which areas have been updated, see the map below from Google’s Maps Gallery.
You can also view it in Google Earth, using this KML file. The new imagery is in both Google Earth and Google Maps.
It is important to remember that although the update was done on August 5th, the actual imagery is slightly older. Most of it seems to have been taken some time in the last two years, although some is quite recent – where I live in Cape Town, South Africa, the new imagery is from June 11th, 2014.
Here’s a fun use of Google Earth and GPS — tracking cats. It started when Tiana Warner at safe.com found out about a way to track cats:
Where do cats go when they’re outside all day and night? What do they do? How do they entertain themselves? Is there a secret cat meeting place in every major city? When Safers found out about Cat Tracker, we couldn’t resist.
The result is pretty neat.
While it’s mostly a fun little project, the technology behind it is remarkably complex. Get the GPS data from Movebank in JSON format, flatten it, create a “convex hull” around the main area, clean up GPS anomalies, rank the cats based on travel area sizes, then push it out via KML. Here is a KML file to view it for yourself in Google Earth.
You can read more on the Safe Software Blog.
Back in 2005 Julian Bayliss, a biologist at London’s Kew Gardens, discovered a brand new rainforest that had previously never been studied — and he found it using Google Earth. We told you about it in May this year, and you can watch a short video about the discovery below.
Since then, many new species have been discovered at the location, known as Mozambique’s ‘sky islands’, including a snake, a butterfly, and most recently, the recent discovery of four new pygmy chameleon species.
Rhampholeon nebulauctor. Credit: Julian Bayliss.
Rhampholeon tilburyi. Credit: Krystal A. Tolley.
Rampholeon Maspictus. Credit: William R. Branch.
Rhampholeon Bruessoworum. Credit: Julian Bayliss.
Find the full story on Fauna & Flora International.
The post Google Earth instrumental in discovery of new chameleon species appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
We have told you in the past about various news stories reporting apparent alien activity in Google Earth imagery. For example, this story, where sonar tracks from ships were mistaken for an underwater alien base. Or this story where a combination of lighting and image artifacts makes a crater on the moon look like an alien space ship. And, then, there was the secret Mars base. Which, again, is most likely just a result of image artifacts making an ordinary geographical feature look suspiciously regular.
The latest such story comes from a YouTube video posted by YouTuber wowforreeel which has gained over five million views in under a month. It features this image, which at first glance appears to be a human shaped object and its shadow.
However, a quick look at the scale bar at the bottom left reveals that the figure, if real, would have to be hundreds of feet high. So, instead of a human, it would be more like a Colossus as suggested by this article.
A careful look at the surrounding craters reveals that the light in the image is coming from near the bottom of the image and so the apparent shadow is in the wrong direction.
This article on pix11.com quotes a NASA scientist Noah Petro, as saying:
My best guess,” Petro said in a statement to PIX11, “is that it’s something (dust, an eyelash, scratch on the negative) that was on the film. Remember, this was in the pre-digital days when all sorts of nasty things could happen to film.”
So, as with the previous stories, the explanation has to do with how the images were acquired rather than an actual feature on the Moon, but it’s an interesting find nevertheless.
If you wish to see it in Google Earth for yourself, switch to Moon view, and enter these co-ordinates 27°34’26.35″N 19°36’4.75″W in the search box, or you can simply use this KML file to fly to it directly in Google Earth.
The Google Earth Blog was started in 2005, by Frank Taylor (that’s me), shortly after Google first released Google Earth. I wrote hundreds of blog posts during the next 4.5 years until my wife and I departed on a 5+ year expedition, called the Tahina Expedition, to circumnavigate the Earth by sailboat on our catamaran Tahina. Since I would not be able to maintain the work for blogging Google Earth Blog (GEB), I was lucky to hire on Mickey Mellen to continue writing.
For more than 4.5 years since that time, Mickey Mellen has done a fantastic job of continuing the GEB tradition. I have been thrilled with the way he has maintained the GEB and helped our readers learn about the many features, news, and types of content available for Google Earth. Meanwhile, my wife and I have sailed two thirds of the way around the world and are nearly across the Indian Ocean expecting to get back to the US next year. As mentioned at the start of August, Mickey is a partner in a growing web development agency (called GreenMellen Media) and he gave me plenty of time to find a new writer. I wish Mickey the best of luck with his venture, and greatly appreciate his professional help during the past nearly 5 years, and with the transition to our next writer.
Today, we have a new writer for the GEB who has been using Google Earth since the early days – back when it was called Keyhole at the time Google bought the company and made it into Google Earth. Timothy Whitehead lives in Cape Town, South Africa, but originally comes from Zambia. He is a software developer who has used Google Earth for some of his projects (which maybe he can tell you about in some future post). Timothy is eager to share his enthusiasm for Google Earth on this blog during at least the next year while my wife and I finish our circumnavigation.
Please thank Mickey for his great job! And please welcome Timothy to Google Earth Blog!
Google Earth can be great for planning trips of any kind, including those by boat. More than seven years ago Frank was showing us 3D cruise ship tracking, and there have been other great cruising resources over the years. Of course, there is also the great tools that Frank is using as he sails around the world aboard the Tahina.
Doug Logan recently wrote an article on Boat Trader that shows some great ways to use Google Earth to help plan your next trip. As Doug says:
…it’s hard to beat sitting at my desk with a big monitor, loading up Google Earth, and plotting a complete cruise with the best satellite imagery in the civilian world and really simple, intuitive screen tools. For free.
The techniques that Doug uses aren’t overly complex or unique, but they’re a solid example of how you can use the native tools in Google Earth to help plan what you need to do.
Be sure to check out this full article on Boat Trader. Good work Doug!
Since the early days of Google Earth, people have looked for ways to use it to enhance real estate searches and information. You can go all the way back to 2005 to see an example that Frank posted, and it was just a month ago that we showed you some great tools from Jason Fox.
There is a company called CityRealty that is doing some interesting things with Google Earth that we thought we’d take a look at. By using Google Earth’s 3D imagery, then laying information and photos on top of it, you end up with a pretty slick way to view a city.
It’s not as interactive as I’d like to see (you can click around the map, but the imagery is static), but it’s a great way to show off a city.
In their press release, Daniel Levy, President of CityRealty, explained the new site as follows:
“Looking for an apartment in New York City can be daunting, and our new site is designed to turn the housing search in the most complex real estate market in the world into a simple, streamlined experience for those looking to make New York home. It’s our hope that our new and improved online resources, coupled with our tailored agent recommendations, will seamlessly guide customers from the start of the search to the moment they get their keys.”
DigitalGlobe, one of the leading providers of imagery for Google Earth, is launching their new WorldView-3 satellite in a few hours. It is scheduled to launch at 11:29am PDT today from Vandenberg Air Force Base, and you can watch a live broadcast of the launch here.
The new satellite will feature some great enhancements over previous ones, including:
- Will capture imagery at 31 cm resolution, the highest available resolution on the market. This allows you to see not only a car, but the windshield and the direction the car is going. Something as small as home plate can be seen with 31 cm resolution.
- Due to its shortwave infrared sensor, the satellite can actually image through haze, fog, dust, smoke and other air-born particulates.
- Beyond crop mapping, this satellite will actually be able to identify moisture levels, differentiate between healthy and unhealthy crops, and even classify species on the ground.
- The satellite can identify types of minerals on the earth’s surface
- It can identify not only a tree’s class and species, but its health as well
It should be a great step forward for imaging, and ultimately for Google Earth. Check out the infographic below for an overview of the satellite, visit worldview3.digitalglobe.com for more information, and watch the launch live in a few hours.
The post DigitalGlobe launching their WorldView-3 satellite today appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
We’ve shown you a lot from George at MyReadingMapped over the years, and he’s back with another one. This project is called the “Google Map of Geology”, and George describes it as follows:
My latest project is a Google Map of Geology which matches up examples of faults, eskers, monadnocks, folds, fabric, depressions, roof pendants, rift valley, kettles, hoodoos, and the like, that can be seen in Google Map and Google Earth with their geologic terminology. I was surprised to discover that much of the details like stratum, joints, lava field fissures, dykes, talus, etc. can actually be seen in a satellite image and that a specific rock the size of a tor can be plotted.
Nice work, George!
With the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I occurring a few weeks ago, I expect we’ll see various recreations of events from the war in Google Earth as those individual 100 year anniversaries approach.
The first example of this I’ve seen comes from Bart Busschots. A few days ago marked the 100th anniversary of the German invasion of his native Belgium, and he’s created a map to show a bit about what happened.
From Bart’s site:
The first major battle of the campaign was centred on the ancient town and prince-bishopric of Liège in the north-east of the country. The Battle of Liège lasted from the 5th to the 16th of August 1914, and centred on the ring of 12 fortifications surrounding the town. Remains of all of these fortifications remain in the landscape, and can be clearly seen on satellite images. When reading about the battle I found myself wanting to better understand the geography of the region, and where the forts fit into the landscape, so I mapped their locations on Google Earth and saved them out as a KML file.
We have discussed the amazing work that Google Earth Outreach does quite a few times on here, and they continue to assist with amazing projects around the world.
They recently released a video that showcases some of the work that they’ve done with nonprofit organizations in Canada. Check it out:
The organizations involved in this include:
- “Caribou Migration,” by Golder Associates Ltd & Hugh Stimson
- “I Am Fish,” by the David Suzuki Foundation
- “Canada’s Boreal, the World’s Largest Intact Forest,” by Pew Environment Group
- “Voices on the Land,” by Okanagan Nation Alliance, Gregory Kehm Associates & Ecotrust Canada
- “Oil & Water Map,” by the Living Oceans Society
- “Natural Capital,” by the David Suzuki Foundation
For more, check out the official Google Earth Outreach website.
(via +Google for Nonprofits)
In British Columbia there is a proposal to build a new dam at “Site C” to help generate affordable clean energy to the region. It sounds like a wonderful idea, but with any project of this size there are certainly downsides to consider as well. In particular, according to this report(PDF):
The District of Hudson’s Hope, a community of 1,100 people in the heart of the Peace River Valley, will be impacted more than any other municipality by the proposed Site C dam.
The video below explores the project, hears from involved parties, and makes great use of Google Earth to add context to the area and some rough looks at what the result of the dam would look like.
Details on the project can be found at hudsonshope.ca, though their short-term focus (understandably) has shifted to wildfires in the area. You can also view this PDF or this article on Common Sense Canadian to learn more.
The post Exploring the possibilities of a new dam using Google Earth appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
Ian Brown at Google Sightseeing recently posted a great blog entry that took a look at the ten tallest statues in the world. Most of the statues are of Buddha or Guanyin, many located in China.
While Ian shows great aerial and Street View imagery for each of them, most of them can be viewed in 3D. The quality of the 3D models varies wildly from statue to statue, but some look pretty nice as seen here:
It’s a fun subject to look at, and Ian makes it easy to find them yourself by providing this KML file so that you can quickly fly to each of them in Google Earth.
Be sure check out the full post to see more.
Great post, Ian!