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The amazing things about Google Earth
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Weird rows of dots in the Amazon

mar 04-04-2017

A couple of years ago a GEB reader asked us about a row of dots he had found in the Amazon. At first we thought it might be a small aircraft and a similar effect to the well-known ‘rainbow effect’.

However, we had a look around the region and found a number of other nearly identical rows of dots. They all occur in imagery labelled ‘CNES/Spot Image’. This is low resolution imagery that has been used in a number of places in Google Earth to fill in the gaps where there is no high resolution satellite imagery available. Sometimes it is just two or three dots, sometimes a long row. All the rows line up in the same direction which strongly suggests that they have something to do with the way the satellite captures the imagery.

There have been seven SPOT satellites so far and since Google Earth does not put a date on the SPOT imagery, we don’t know which satellite in particular the imagery comes from. Many satellites use either a single sensor or a row of sensors, which in combination with a moving mirror can be used to photograph a large area. We have discussed this before with the Landsat 7 satellite. The best explanation we have at present is that a single sensor malfunctions temporarily and this leaves a trail of dots in the image as a result. We considered the possibility that that sensor is being blinded by something highly reflective on the ground such as a tin roof. However, although there are some rows of dots in farmed areas, we could find no obvious correlation between human habitation and the dots.

To see all the dots we have found so far in Google Earth, download this KML file. Do not read too much into the distribution of our placemarks as that has more to do with the extent of SPOT imagery and our search method than anything else.

If any of our readers has noticed a similar effect in other parts of the world, or has a better explanation for their origin, please let us know in the comments.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Earth’s internal browser

lun 03-04-2017

In November 2015 we had a look at Google Earth’s internal browser and its capabilities. In January this year, Google Earth was updated to version 7.1.8.3036, including an upgrade to many of the internal components in Google Earth, which subtly changed the look and feel of the interface. We wondered whether or not the internal browser had also received an upgrade – and it turns out that it has.

In November 2015, Google Earth reported:
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; N; ; en-US) AppleWebKit/532.4 (KHTML, like Gecko) Google Earth Pro/7.1.5.1557 Safari/532.4

And now it reports:
Mozilla/5.0 (N; Windows NT 6.2; WOW64) AppleWebKit/534.34 (KHTML, like Gecko) Google Earth Pro/7.1.8.3036 Safari/534.34

And for comparison, the latest Google Chrome is:
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/58.0.3029.41 Safari/537.36

We also used html5test.com to see what the internal browser’s capabilities are.

As you can see above, Google Earth now scores 169.
For comparison:
Google Earth in 2015 scored 119.
The latest Chrome scores 518. (Interestingly in November 2015, Chrome scored 521, so it’s getting worse).
Firefox scores 474.
Edge scores 460.
Internet Explorer 11 scores 312.

So although Google Earth has improved slightly, it’s still equivalent to a very old browser.

We found that Google Maps can run in a placemark popup, but uses ‘Lite’ mode, which doesn’t support 3D imagery. We also found that the Google home page, does not work at all in a popup, but we were able to open it in Google Earth’s browser using a link in a popup. You can decide whether popup links open in Google Earth or in your default browser using the setting “Tools->Options->General->Display->Display->Show web results in external browser” (Windows) or “Google Earth -> Preferences->General->Display->Display->Show web results in external browser” (Mac).

We did manage to open Bing in a popup, but not Bing Maps:

We were able to search for websites in Bing and open some of them, but strangely, if we searched for Google, we could not open the links to the Google home page.

The biggest problem with the Google Earth internal browser is it has no built in debugger, so when something doesn’t work, it is very difficult to find out why.

Download this KML file for the placemarks we used for the above tests.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

The best of Google Earth for March 2017

ven 31-03-2017

3D Imagery
A large batch of 3D imagery was added to Google Earth around March 21st. We had a look at a 3D image of Trumps aircraft spotted in Florida.

Street View
Street View was added to Tunisia and a Vunuatuan Volcano.

Imagery Updates
We had a look at a number of events captured in Google Earth imagery, including:
* A tailings dam collapse in China
* The Gatlinburg, Tennessee Wildfire
* A collaped bridge in India
* Landslides in Kyrgyzstan
* The Australian Open and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
* A plane crash, a derailed train and a fireworks explosion

We had a look at the enormous volume (petabytes) of imagery being produced by the various imagery providers. Adding to the growth of the imagery, ESA’s Sentinel-2B satellite was successfully launched on March 7th. To help make sense of it all, satellite imaging company Planet released a new version of their Explorer tool, which now includes an ‘historical imagery’ feature. Also, Decartes Labs released an imagery search engine capable of finding imagery using pattern matching.

Google Earth Tour Builder
We have started a series developing a Tour Builder for Google Earth:
Part 1: Circling
Part 2: Arcs
Part 3: Labelling

Canals
We had a look at a number of different canal systems:
A water transfer canal project in Brazil
The Suez Canal expansion project
The Panama Canal expansion project

The post The best of Google Earth for March 2017 appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Earth 3D imagery progress

jeu 30-03-2017

Google has recently released a new batch of 3D imagery. The last major release was in early February. Thank you to all the GEB readers that contribute by finding new areas and drawing outlines. Below is a chart showing the areas in square kilometres released over time. It does not include all of the recent March batch as only some of the outlines have been drawn so far.

To see the area covered by 3D in Google Earth download our KML map.

Keep in mind that the above areas do not include updated regions. These can be difficult to identify so we do not track them. The general trend is a decline in new area covered. We believe that this is partly a reflection of the fact that most of the large population centres in countries where Google is releasing 3D imagery have already been covered. It is likely that Google still releases approximately the same area of 3D imagery each month, but much of it is now updates, not new areas.

The largest single area at 19,500 square kilometres is now the New York City region. It includes parts of five different states and is more than double the area of the second largest region (San Francisco at 7,800 sq km).

Thank you to GEB reader Ryan for pointing us to Trump’s aircraft captured in 3D in one of the latest 3D releases in Florida:

It is parked not far from Mar-a-Largo, owned by Trump and which he now refers to as his Southern White House. We were unable to date the 3D imagery as there is not much aerial imagery in that location to compare it with. Trump now uses Airforce One, which we have also looked at in 3D. Find it in Google Earth with this KML file.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Earth Tour builder: Part 3 – Labelling

mer 29-03-2017

This is part 3 of our Tour Builder series where we try to develop tools to make creating Google Earth Tours easier.

When you create a tour that visits a list of locations, one thing you want to do is display the name of the location to the user. There are a number of possible ways to do this:

Basic Placemarks.
Probably the easiest method is to simply create a placemark with the appropriate name and an icon of your choice, or remove the icon altogether. You can adjust the font size and colour in the placemarks style settings, but it is has limited flexibility. In addition, if you are distributing your Google Earth Tour, labels can be affected by the settings in the user’s copy of Google Earth as well as screen shape and size.

A simple customised placemark label.

Placemark balloons.
Placemark balloons can contain HTML including css and JavaScript, which makes them very flexible. With JavaScript you can even animate the contents of the balloon. However, there are still significant limitations. Although you can get rid of the ‘directions’ row in the balloon, the border and close button cannot be customised or removed nor can the balloon be made transparent. You can position the balloon in the corner of the screen by putting the placemark off the edge of the screen, but as shown below, the balloon always leaves a margin between it and the edge of the screen.

Post-production.
If you are making your tour into a video, then the best option is probably to add most of your text using video editing tools.

Screen Overlays.
A Screen Overlay is a KML feature that allows you to place an image on screen at the location of your choosing. This is what is typically used for map keys or logos in KML files. PNG files with transparency are allowed, which is a significant advantage over placemark balloons. The main disadvantage of this technique is that it only allows images and not text or HTML so you must put your text into an image prior to creating the KML file.
It is also possible to use Google Earth Tour features to animate the image, sliding it onto the screen at the appropriate point in the Tour. You can try this tour to see it in action.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Whales in Google Earth

mar 28-03-2017

We recently came across this interesting article about counting whales using DigitalGlobe’s satellite imagery. Unfortunately the imagery in question has not made it into Google Earth. We have several times, without success, searched through satellite imagery of Hermanus, South Africa, a popular whale watching location where Southern Right Whales come to calf every year. So, we did an internet search and found remarkably few sightings. We believe this is due to a combination of factors. Google Earth does not show much satellite imagery beyond a thin strip of ocean along the coast, and when it does, the resolution is dramatically reduced. Also the resolution of most satellite imagery is barely good enough to identify whales.

Here are the only finds we know about:


Off the coast of Maui, Hawaii. Found via twistedsifter.com.


Unknown species off Fraser Island, on the Eastern coast of Australia. Found via artcepts.blogspot.co.za.


Beluga Whales, Erwin Bay, Somerset Island, Nunavut, Canada. Found via the Google Earth Community


Southern Right Whales, Golfo Nuevo, Argentina. Found via googlesightseeing.com.

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

If you know of any other whale sightings in Google Earth, please let us know in the comments.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Earth Tour builder: Part 2 – Arcs between locations

lun 27-03-2017

This is part 2 of a series where we gradually create a Google Earth Tour builder tool. We started last week with a tool that took a set of placemarks and created a tour that circles each placemark. The problem was the transition between placemarks just relied on Google Earth’s ‘fly to’ feature and wasn’t very nice at all. So today, we are adding an arcing flight between placemarks and more customization to the circling feature.

We get the view distance (range, in metres) and view angle (tilt) from the placemark.

Be sure to let us know in the comments if you find any bugs and any suggestions for further improvement / extra features.

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Create Tour

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Earth Hour and Sea Ice

ven 24-03-2017

Earth Hour takes place tomorrow, March 25th, 2017 at 8:30-9:30PM local time. Earth Hour is when people (and organizations) around the globe switch off their lights to show support for the need to take action on climate change. Unfortunately, capturing imagery of the event from space would be almost impossible. The ‘Earth City Lights’ layer is relatively low resolution and created from a large number of images over time. It’s a pity, because an animation of Earth Hour would be interesting given the complicated time zones of the earth.

Given that Earth Hour is about action on climate change, today we are having a look at some recent news from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado. Apparently 2017 saw a new record minimum for sea ice cover. This includes the smallest ‘maximum sea ice cover’ on record for the Northern Hemisphere and the smallest ‘minimum sea ice cover’ for the Southern Hemisphere.

We couldn’t find a KML for 2017 data, but the NSIDC does provide KMLs for 1979-2016 which you can find here.


White: Maximum Arctic Sea Ice extent March, 2016. Purple line: Median maximum extent 1979-2016.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Earth imagery updates – Sport

jeu 23-03-2017

Although the majority of sights we look at in Google Earth imagery are natural disasters or man-made disasters, today we are having a look at a couple of sporting events. These are not coincidence, DigitalGlobe intentionally captured the imagery as part of its FirstLook program.

Australia Open
The Australia Open tennis tournament was held in Melbourne, Australia in January.


The image resolution is not good enough to see players on the courts, but we can see the crowds in the stands.


A number of different courts are in use in the image.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
The 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was held on November 27th, 2016. The most interesting aspect of this event is the mode of transport used by the spectators. The car parks are nearly empty, but the harbour is packed with yachts and two helicopters can be seen.


Some cars can be seen on the track, but we can’t tell whether this is during the actual race.

There is also an image of Río Cuarto, Argentina, which was captured on January 14th, 2017, in relation to the Dakar Rally, but we were unable to find anything in it in relation to the Rally.

To find the locations mentioned in this post download this KML file.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Earth Tour builder: Part 1 – Circling

mer 22-03-2017

Google Earth has the ability to display very sophisticated tours. However, this capability is underutilised. The reason for this is simple; there is a lack of good tools for creating tours, which means that it takes quite a lot of effort and technical know-how to create good tours. We plan to try and correct this by creating some tools to make tour creation easier.

For some examples of what is possible with tours we highly recommend having a look at the various tours created by Steven Ho.

Today, we are starting with the most basic type of tour: viewing a set of places in sequence. To use it, simply create a set of placemarks, save them as a KML file, upload the KML file below, then click the ‘Create tour’ button. The resulting tour should fly from placemark to placemark, circling each placemark once.

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Time between placemarks:

Time circling placemark:

Create Tour

We intend to add more features over time, including customising each stop, better flying between placemarks and more.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Planet adds time dimension to its maps

mar 21-03-2017

Satellite imaging company Planet has recently released a new version of Planet Explorer, a tool for exploring its vast collection of satellite imagery. Read more about it on the Planet blog. Planet has added a time toolbar very similar to Google Earth’s ‘historical imagery’ feature.

With a record launch of 88 satellites in February this year, and the acquisition of Terra Bella, Planet now operates 149 satellites — the largest fleet in human history.

To view the imagery simply go to Planet Explorer Beta. You can see monthly global base maps without even logging in. If you sign up for a free account, you can then see high resolution base maps and daily imagery within the US. For the rest of the globe the free account only provides access to low resolution monthly base maps. In addition, the free account gives you access to the Open California dataset, which allows you to download imagery for California two weeks after capture. The Open California data is shared with a fairly liberal licence.

Keep in mind that most of the imagery is relatively low resolution at 2-5m per pixel. Terra Bella imagery is sub-metre per pixel, but still not as good as other commercial suppliers such as DigitalGlobe and nothing like as good as aerial imagery. Nevertheless, the imagery is sufficient for seeing large scale phenomenon such as flooding (as seen in the YouTube video above), wildfire, tornadoes (see below), landslides etc.


The scar from an EF4 tornado that struck Perryville, Missouri on February 28th,
2016. See in Planet Explorer.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Street View comes to Tunisia and a Vanuatuan volcano

lun 20-03-2017

Google has recently added Street View for Tunisia and the island of Ambrym, Vanuatu.

Tunisia

Tunisia has some interesting architecture, including mosques, churches and even ancient Roman ruins.


Mosquée Malek Ibn Anas de Carthage. See it in Google Maps


Cathedral of St Vincent de Paul Évêque de Tunis.See it in Google Maps


The Amphitheatre of El Jem. See it in Google Maps

The blue outlines for Tunisia are not yet visible in Google Earth, but the Street View is accessible. Still, it is much easier to explore with Google Maps.

Volcano on Ambrym, Vanuatu

Ambrym is a volcanic island in the archipelago of Vanuatu that features one of the largest boiling lava lakes in the world. Google recently visited it with the Street View Trekker. Read more about it here.


One of the lava lakes. See it in Google Maps


Camped right next to an active volcano! See it in Google Maps

The blue outlines for Vanuatu are not yet visible in Google Earth, and it doesn’t appear to be possible to access the Vanuatu Street View via Google Earth at present. So use Google Maps instead.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Kyrgyzstan landslides in Google Earth

ven 17-03-2017

On April 27th, 2016, a landslide occurred in Kyrgyzstan and was captured on video as you can see below. The Landslide Blog also wrote about it here and here. We have been keeping an eye on the location and Google has recently updated the imagery.

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Before and after of the landslide in the video.

Having looked around the area it is clear that the region is very susceptible to landslides, with evidence of past landslides almost anywhere you look. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of imagery and most of the landslides took place before the earliest image. We did find one more that took place in 2016, although it is not quite covered by the latest image.

Before and after of another landslide that occurred in 2016.

Apart from the immediate danger from landslides, there is also the phenomenon of landslide dams, examples of which we have looked at before. A landslide dam occurs when the landslide blocks a river, creating a lake behind it and a catastrophic flood may occur when the dam gives way. We had a look around the region and found several cases where there probably was a small landslide dam and there is significant risk of such disasters in the future.


This landslide blocked the river, which has since carved a channel through the debris.

In the picture above, the slope has been slipping for many years and may never have caused a landslide dam, but the risk is clearly significant as a dam would result in the flooding of the nearby houses and its collapse could cause flooding downstream. Just a little further upstream it looks as if part of the town is slowly sliding into the river:


Also note the smaller landslide on the opposite bank which could potentially have created a landslide dam.

To find the above locations in Google Earth, download this KML file. We have marked some of the more notable landslides that we found, but there are many more in the region.

According to this video, a significant cause of the landslides is deforestation, followed by uncontrolled grazing. Trees and other plant cover helps to stabilize slopes.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

The Suez Canal expansion project

jeu 16-03-2017

Yesterday we had a look at the Panama Canal and its recent expansion. Today we are looking at the Suez Canal, which was also expanded between August 2014 and August 2015.

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Before and after of the Suez Canal using Landsat/Sentinel global mosaics 2014 and 2016.

Before and after of a section of the Suez Canal showing the new channel and how the ships can now travel in both directions. In the later image they are going north in the right channel and south in the left channel

The canal needs constant maintenance, and we can see below how even before the expansion project there were significant changes due to the dredging work. In both images we can see dredgers at work. They appear to have initially been filling in the right bank and are now creating new islands in the lake using the dredged sand.

Before and after of the Great Bitter Lake on the Suez Canal 2007 and 2014.

Also interesting is the long history of canals in the region as you can read about on Wikipedia. There have historically been several canals from the Nile to the Red Sea, although we didn’t find any maps showing their exact routes – which may not even be known. There is, today, a smaller canal that runs from the Nile to the Suez Canal just north of the Great Bitter Lake.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

The Panama Canal expansion project

mer 15-03-2017

We recently had a look at water transfer canals in Brazil. Today we are looking at the Panama Canal and in a future post we will have a look at the Suez Canal, both of which have recently been expanded.

The Panama Canal rises 26 metres above sea level and has locks at each end to raise the ships. The original locks were 33.5 metres wide, which limits the size of ship that can pass through the canal. This is such an important restriction that ships are often built specifically to meet that restriction – a size known as Panamax. The expansion project was aimed at allowing for larger ships to pass through the canal, as well as faster transit times and more efficient use of water.


The new locks have large reutilization basins which allow 60% of the water used in each transit to be reused.


Pacific Ocean Locks. 1: Miraflores Locks (original). 2. Pedro Miguel Locks (original) 3. Cocoli Locks (new).

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Speed in milliseconds per image:
Construction of the Pacific Locks.
 


Atlantic Ocean Locks. 1: Gatun Locks (original). 2. Agua Clara Locks (new).

Speed in milliseconds per image:
Construction of the Atlantic Locks.
 

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Earth Imagery Update – Plane Crash, Derailed Train, Fireworks Explosion and World Series

mar 14-03-2017

Google has recently done an imagery update. Here are a few sights we have found so far.

Plane crash in Kyrgyzstan
On January 16, 2017, a Turkish cargo plane, Turkish Airlines Flight 6491, crashed into a residential area just short of the runway of Manas International Airport, Kyrgyzstan. All four crew members and 35 people on the ground were killed in the crash. Read more about it here and on Wikipedia.


The aircraft was travelling from left to right in the above image.


Zooming out a bit we can see how close it was to getting to the runway.

Derailed train in Cameroon
On October 21st, 2016, a passenger train derailed in Eséka, Cameroon, killing at least 79 people and injuring 550. The DigitalGlobe image was captured ten days later so some cleanup has already been done, but we can see where the accident happened and some of the carriages by the side of the track. There are more carriages next to the station which may have already been transported there from the accident site. Read more about it here and on Wikipedia.


 
Fireworks explosion in Mexico
On December 20th, 2016, a fireworks explosion occurred at the San Pablito Market in the city of Tultepec, Mexico, killing at least 36 and injuring 84. The imagery is from January 4th, and the area has been cleaned up. See a video here and read about it on Wikipedia

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Before and after of the San Pablito Market.

World Series parade, Chicago
The Chicago Cubs, a Major League Baseball club, won the 2016 World Series after a 108-year drought. To celebrate they held a parade on November 4th, 2016, which was attended by an estimated 5 million people. DigitalGlobe captured an image showing the crowds in Grant Park, the final destination of the parade.

To find the above locations 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});});});});

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Water transfer canals in Brazil

lun 13-03-2017

We recently came across this story about a water transfer project in Brazil. Since we have previously had a look at China’s North-South water transfer project, we thought it might be interesting to have a look at Brazil’s project in Google Earth. It was difficult to find the location, but we eventually found this Wikipedia page that has a map. We have since located and traced out the canals that have been built so far. In many places there is no recent imagery and their route can only be seen in the latest Landsat/Sentinel global mosaic in ‘historical imagery’.

The Brazil water transfer project consists of two separate canals carrying water from the São Francisco River to the four north-eastern states of Brazil. There are several dams along the route of the canal which have been specially constructed as part of the project. The two main canals are each around 200 km long. There are also tunnels under roads, bridges over valleys and in one place an 18 km tunnel through a hill. The project has reportedly cost around US$ 2.5 billion so far. The region the water is serving is known as Sertão and is a naturally arid region.


The canal routes. Red: canals. Blue: river bed. Yellow: possible future extension.

Keep in mind that once the water is transported via the canals, it flows into the local rivers and can be utilised by towns downstream of the end of the canal all the way to the coast.


A tunnel under a village.


One of the many dams.

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Play ‘spot the difference’. 2001 vs 2016. If you know where to look you can spot both canals. See map above for clues.

To find the canals 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});});});});

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Petabytes of imagery

ven 10-03-2017

Last year we made a rough estimate of the size of the Google Earth database. Our best guess was about 3 petabytes.

Satellite imaging company Planet has just released some information about the size of their imagery database. It currently stands at 7+ Petabytes with 7+ Terabytes being added daily. And this is before the data starts flowing from the 88 new satellites it recently launched. Read more on the Planet Blog.

There are two other major satellite imagery suppliers, DigitalGlobe and CNES/Astrium. We expect that their archives are still larger than Planet’s as they have been operating for much longer. However, Planet now owns the largest fleet of satellites in the world and will presumably eventually have the largest imagery database. A number of countries have their own imaging satellites both for military intelligence and government planning. There are also various weather satellites that typically capture very low resolution imagery, but on a regular basis (every few minutes in some cases).

According to Google the Landsat archive consists of around 1.3 petabytes of data and the Copernicus imagery is around half a petabyte.

Google also gathers aerial imagery, some of which is processed into 3D imagery. This is higher resolution than satellite imagery, but gathered much less frequently. Many countries also have aerial imagery programmes such as the National Agriculture Imagery Program in the US, and there are also private companies that gather aerial imagery for commercial use. It is probable that many countries have archives of aerial photography that have never been digitized.

Due to the lack of information about all the different imagery out there it is impossible to accurately estimate its total size, but our guess is it exceeds 100 Petabytes.

Do any of our readers know the sizes of any particular imagery collections?


Animation of the seasons created by NASA using Lansat imagery.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Descartes Labs imagery search engine

jeu 09-03-2017

We have looked at a number of image recognition based search engines before, such as Google faces tracker, which we saw in 2013, which was designed for finding faces in Google Earth imagery, or Terrapattern a more recent and more general search engine. We have also had a look at DigitalGlobe’s use of artificial intelligence to analyse imagery.

Today we are looking at Decartes Labs which is very similar to Terrapattern. You select a location and it finds other imagery with similar features. They have three imagery datasets:
* Aerial imagery of the US from the National Agriculture Imagery Program of the USDA.
* A global mosaic of Landsat imagery.
* PlanetScope imagery of China (a product of satellite imaging company Planet).

Click on a wind turbine and it will find a thousand others instantly. There are a few similar objects it picks up that are not wind turbines, but it is quite impressive that the majority of them are, despite being captured from different angles, facing different directions and having their shadows in different directions.

Be sure to try other distinctive features such as baseball fields, parking lots, storage yards, airports and more.

The post Descartes Labs imagery search engine appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Sentinel 2B successfully launched

mer 08-03-2017

On March 7th, 2017, Arianespace, on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA) successfully launched the new earth imaging satellite Sentinel-2B. It has identical specifications to Sentinel-2A which has been operating since June 2015. The satellites have identical orbits but are positioned 180° apart, which allows them to cover the earth every 5 days instead of the 10 day intervals that Sentinel-2A was achieving on its own. Read more about it here.

The Sentinel imagery is freely available to the public and can be obtained from several sources, including Amazon’s AWS and the Google Cloud. Using the Amazon AWS source, which provides thumbnail previews, we have created special KMLs that allow you to preview the latest Sentinel imagery and create animations using the thumbnails.

Sentinel imagery is relatively low resolution at 10 m per pixel. It is still useful for very large scale phenomena. It is also used in Google Earth for the historical imagery global mosaics. The mosaics are mostly created from Landsat imagery because the Sentinel imagery only covers mid 2015 onwards. Sentinel imagery is slightly higher resolution, and now higher frequency, than Landsat imagery.

A much longer launch video can be found here.

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