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New Google Earth layers: Street View highlights

ven 03-07-2015

On Monday, in honour of Google Earth’s 10 year anniversary, Google added a new collection of layers known as Voyager. We have already looked at the ‘Satellite imagery updates’ layer and the ‘Earth View landscapes’ layer. Today we are looking at the ‘Street View highlights’ layer.

The ‘Street View highlights’ layer is a collection of Placemarks highlighting interesting sights to be found in Street View. The locations are mostly off-road locations that you would not normally find when simply looking at Street View in Google Earth. It does not include the sort of collections often found on the web of interesting things inadvertently caught by the Street View cameras. On a side note, Google has recently closed down the old version of Street View breaking many sites that have links to Street View imagery.

The layer only includes actual Google Street View and does not include user-submitted Google Views or Business Views.

The locations include a number of places we have looked at before that we found very difficult to get to from Google Earth and at the time recommended the Google Maps version of Street View instead. These locations include:

The new layer makes it much easier to find those locations and to enter Street View, but navigation is still very difficult. There are often no street lines or other markers indicating which directions you can navigate. Overall, the Street View interface within Google Earth is not as good as the Google Maps version, but moving on a larger scale between locations with Street View is now easier in Google Earth and a superior experience to Google Maps. Probably the best solution is to find interesting Street View in Google Earth and then switch to Google Maps to view it using the ‘View in Google Maps’ button on the tool bar.


Sea Lions, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

New Google Earth layers: Earth View landscapes

jeu 02-07-2015

A couple of days ago Google introduced some new layers to Google Earth in honour of Google Earth’s 10th anniversary. Yesterday we looked at the ‘Satellite imagery updates’ layer. Today we are looking at the ‘Earth View landscapes’ layer.

The ‘Earth View landscapes’ layer highlights the locations of a collection of beautiful satellite and aerial imagery. This collection has been featured in the Google Chrome extension ‘Earth View’ that we featured last year. If you have Google Chrome you can get the free extension from the Google store.

The collection of imagery has been expanded and now includes around 1500 images. If you don’t want to install the extension, or don’t use Google Chrome, you can still view the images in Google Earth using the new layer, and optionally download them for use as computer wallpaper. Alternatively, you can view them via the new Earth View Gallery website. If you use a browser other than Chrome, you could try setting that site as your default new tab. Also check out ‘lean back’ mode from the drop down menu at the top left of the site.

One noticeable change to the Chrome extension is that the logo has been changed from Google Maps to Google Earth. This is fitting, as much of the featured imagery is from the ‘historical imagery’ layer of Google Earth and cannot be found in Google Maps. We did find that most of the imagery can be identified in Google Earth, although the colours often do not match exactly. Either they have touched up the colours for the Earth View gallery, or they have used original imagery and not what is in Google Earth, which may be colour corrected.

We also discovered that there are a few images from Google’s Skybox Imaging that will not be found in Google Earth and whose locations are not marked in the new layer.


The circle in the centre of the image is known as “The Great Blue Hole” and has its own Wikipedia page.

The image above is from Skybox Imaging and is not found in the new layer. Find it here in the Earth View Gallery or download this KML file to view it in Google Earth. This particular image is actually better quality than the imagery in Google Earth at that location. Maybe it is time Google did start including Skybox imagery in Google Earth.

One small shortcoming of the new layer is that there is no obvious way to share a nice image you have found. In the Chrome plugin there is a ‘share’ menu, but no such links are in the Earth View layer popups. If you wish to tell someone else about a nice image from the Earth View layer, download it as wallpaper and take note of the 4 digit number at the end of the file name. Append the number to the URL of the Earth View Gallery and it will display the correct image. For example, the above image downloads as “google-earth-view-7022.jpg”. Just enter “http://earthview.withgoogle.com/7022″ in your browser and it will find it.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

New Google Earth layers: Satellite imagery updates

mer 01-07-2015

On Monday, Google introduced some new layers to Google Earth under the title ‘Voyager’. They all contain information that was previously available, but not as easily accessible as in the new layers.

Today we are looking at the new layer called ‘Satellite imagery updates’. This layer shows the outlines of imagery that has recently been added to Google Earth. Google has published this information in the past, most recently via this Google map. There are, however, a few key differences between this new layer and the Google map:

  • The Google map only shows overall outlines of the updates, whereas the new layer shows each individual image. So when there are overlapping images, the new layer is more informative.
  • The new layer lets you click on an individual image and it will give you the date the image was acquired. Although it was possible to figure out the imagery dates from the Google map via a bit of detective work, this certainly makes it much easier and is a welcome improvement.
  • The Google map shows the data for one particular update (as of this writing, the update of May 27th, 2015 ). The new layer shows data from multiple updates: as of this writing it includes the update from June 8th, 2015 and some extra imagery that we believe has been added since then but hasn’t been reported via the map.
  • If you click the ‘download’ link found below the other layers, it will copy the Voyager layer to your ‘My Places’ in a format that includes more detail. For the ‘Satellite imagery updates’ layer, the data is categorized by continent and country. The Google map, on the other hand, does not allow you to save the data in any way other than a screen shot, and since Google regularly updates the map, there is no good record of past updates.
  • Once you have the data in your ‘My Places’, you can save the data to KML files for further analysis. This is not possible with the Google Map, which is essentially copy protected.

Since we are allowed to access the KML, with the help of this useful website we can work out the total area of the new imagery by continent:

#areasTable td, #areasTable th{ text-align: right; font-size:smaller } #areasTable th{padding-left:14px; font-weight:bold} #areasTable td:first-child ,#areasTable th:first-child{ text-align: left;padding-left:0px; }

Continent Area (sq. km) Asia 342,988 North America 314,332 Africa 125,841 Europe 100,481 South America 43,019 Australia 20,346 Oceans & Islands 6,098 Total 953,104



Note that no allowance has been made for overlapping imagery, so the above figures are the area of the imagery added and not the area of land surface covered.


Durban, South Africa, got a lot of imagery – we don’t know why.

It must be noted that imagery displayed in this layer is not necessarily recent imagery. To learn more about interpreting Google’s imagery updates maps see this series of posts. The oldest image we have found so far in the new layer is of the Japanese Island of Kuchinoerabu captured on September 19th, 2012. We believe it was added because of the volcanic eruption on the island that happened in May this year. Imagery of the eruption itself has not yet been added to Google Earth, but this old image might have been added to aid rescue workers.

We have also noticed that imagery of Guam captured in May has been added to Google Earth. This is imagery that relates to Cyclone Dolphin that struck Guam on May 15th, 2015. Although the imagery is from the days following the Cyclone, we have not been able to identify any damage caused. This imagery is not noted on either the new layer or any of the update maps published by Google. This suggests that there have been updates since the new layer was made.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

New Content for Google Earth’s 10th Anniversary

lun 29-06-2015

Google blogged today about Google Earth turning 10 and announced some new content in celebration. This announcement brings out some revelations about the future of Google Earth as well. So, we are very excited by the announcement here at Google Earth Blog.

First, let’s talk about the new layer Google announced. If you start up Google Earth today, you get a new layer in the layers panel on the lower left called “Voyager” and you will soon see they are calling it “Edition 1″. Future editions will update the content and possibly add even more features. The layer is intended to help show you the locations of all the most recent imagery and data available in Google Earth in four main categories:

  1. Street View highlights
  2. EarthView landscapes – desktop background suitable pretty places
  3. 3D Cities – locations of high-resolution 3D city maps
  4. Satellite/Aerial imagery – locations with the latest imagery

The layer also has a “Highlight tour” that literally flies you around the Earth to highlight samples from each of the new layers. Just to give you a taste, I’ve created short YouTube video that demonstrates the new layer and the tour.

More Details from Google’s Post

Today’s Google blog post was by Sean Askay who has been written about many times on Google Earth Blog. In the early days after Google Earth was released, Sean used the program for his Master’s studies. He later created some amazing stories using Google Earth and he was so innovative that Google ended up hiring him. He went on to create even more content, but also created the Tour mode in Google Earth that is actually a great resource for doing self-guided demonstrations (including the new Voyager layer). My favorite was the one he did with Astronaut Buzz Aldrin for the 30th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon in 2009.

In Sean’s post, he not only announced the new Google Earth Voyager layer, but also a larger collection of beautiful Earth Views for the popular Chrome extension, and a slick new Earth View web application that shows not only the views, but also a little animated globe mapping the location of each shot.

Interesting Hints at the Future of Google Earth

Google made it very plain in their blog post, and in the new layer, that they look forward to seeing Google Earth for another ten years. Considering our fears of the possible demise of our favorite app, for the last couple of years, this is really good news. But, it gets even better. According to a recent interview on Wired, Sean is now the lead engineer overseeing future work on Google Earth. That’s particularly good news since two of the most important guys that built the original Google Earth have recently left Google (Michael Jones is now CEO of Wearality, and Brian McClendon is now going to Uber). In the Wired interview, Sean, and Google Earth Outreach manager Rebecca Moore, made some interesting comments about future plans for Google Earth which indicate a lot of thinking about leveraging the vast array of data Google has developed to create even more dynamic databases for new versions of Google Earth. And hints at uses of VR and AI technologies.

So, for the millions of fans of Google Earth out there, this really is a good cause for celebration. The future looks much brighter for Google Earth. Thank you Google for maintaining your commitment behind one of your greatest products!

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Ten Years of Amazing Google Earth Visualizations

lun 29-06-2015

Google Earth was first released on June 28, 2005. Now, in celebration of the 10th Anniversary of Google Earth’s release, we would like to share just a few examples of the best user applications of Google Earth over the years. As any regular reader of this blog can tell you, Google Earth is a fantastic way to share content and tell stories about the Earth (and other planets and places). The desktop versions of Google Earth (GE) include a lot of features for annotating the map including basic placemarks, GPS tracks, image overlays (for maps, weather satellite photos and more), photo placemarks, time animations, 3D models, and much more. After over a billion downloads of Google Earth, millions of people have shared a vast array of content, and continue to do so after 10 years of the world’s most accurate 3D globe. Google also added many powerful features to GE over the years to allow people to create applications via their browser-based plugin and API, time animations, and even a scripting tour mode inside Google Earth.

Millions of people have found all kinds of strange and interesting sights when viewing Google Earth imagery. A few examples include: marriage proposals on roofs, heart-shaped lakes, guitar-shaped pools, African animals, bizarre hidden military objects, and many more. Thousands of people have found planes in flight and there’s a huge collection curated by the Google Earth Community.

Unique sights

Google Earth is a great way to tell stories in a geo-spatial context. Want to read about the harrowing tale, and see the locations, of explorers in the early 1900s whose ship was trapped in ice in Antarctica and the successful rescue by their daring captain who managed to get help from thousands of miles away? Want to see and hear the places and stories from a famous book called “Sailing Alone Around the World” by Joshua Slocum?

Shackleton and Slocum

Did you know Google Earth has a built-in flight simulator? Very few people realize just how fluid you can move inside the program. You can fly while looking at the world’s most complete and current model of the Earth. In fact, back in 2007 when I produced a cool demonstration of the first detailed terrain model of the Swiss Alps, by mimicing a video of a Swiss Figher Jet through the mountains, it impressed Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt (now Chairman) so much that Google decided to produce the flight simulator mode. An even better way to fly in Google Earth is with a 3D mouse called SpaceNavigator which gives you the ultimate control.

Flying in GE

The time animation feature, which Google added a year after it was first released, empowered all sorts of dynamic content and data visualizations. For example, one guy produced an animation of the clouds of Jupiter in motion. Another classic example was a visualization of Hurricane Katrina showing just when it grew the strongest and shows satellites views as it approached and struck New Orleans.

The advent of the browser plugin version of Google Earth enabled developers to create applications using Google Earth. One of my favorite scientific applications is one that helps you visualize eclipses when the Moon and Earth dance with the Sun. Google produced a cool demonstration of the plugin with Monster Milktruck. But, my favorite is a game which lets you play like you are doing a lunar landing of the NASA Apollo 11 Eagle on Tranquility Base – complete with sound (see video).

One of the most important uses of Google Earth has been to help raise awareness of issues facing humanity and the Earth’s environment. Google formed Google Earth Outreach with a team of top Google engineers to help organizations use Google Earth to create tools and visualizations to highlight issues such as environmentally destructive coal mining, effects of massive deforestation, dangers and conditions of coral reefs, and human genocide. In 2009 Google introduced the Google Earth Ocean layers to help raise awareness and explore the Ocean and highlight issues like overfishing, climate change, and pollution.

Google Earth has been a fantastic tool used throughout the world for a multitude of purposes. It has been used in schools countless times to help teachers educate the minds of the young about the Earth. And Google Earth is the best way to explore and learn about places you may never reach otherwise, or to help you plan your own travels to those places. Google Earth has been one of the most popular applications on Earth. We hope Google will continue to develop and further advance this fantastic tool for everyone.

Google Earth 2015

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

10 years of Google Earth innovation

lun 29-06-2015

In 2004 Google bought startup Keyhole Inc. whose main product was a virtual globe known as Keyhole Earthviewer. On June 28th, 2005, ten years ago yesterday, Google released the renamed Google Earth 3.0 for free (there were still paid versions with some extra features). Since then Google Earth has become one of the best known and most used applications in the world. Today, in honour of the 10 year anniversary of Google Earth we are looking at some of the key features and innovations that make Google Earth such a great product.

Keyhole Markup Language
Keyhole Markup Language (KML) is named for Google Earth’s predecessor Keyhole Earthviewer. It is a file format designed to make it easy to share geographic information. Google helped to make it into a standard and it is now maintained by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC). It remains the standard format for sharing information via Google Earth.

Network links and geotagged photos
A very useful feature of KML is the called a network link. Amongst other things it allows developers to show Placemarks unique to the location on earth that you are looking at in Google Earth, which makes very large datasets possible. In 2005 someone created a network link that showed geotagged photos from Flickr.

Panaromio
In early 2006, the above Flickr network link was temporarily not working and photo sharing site Panaromio filled the gap with their own network link. Later that year Google made the Panaromio network link into a layer. The result was that Panaromio grew quickly and in May 2007 was bought by Google. More recently, Google has been considering merging Panaromio into Google Views, but due to a petition by the Panaromio community, that plan has been put on hold.

Street View
First introduced as part of Google Maps in May 2007, Street View consists of panoramic photos like Panaromio, but systematically captured at regular intervals by driving along a street with a special camera. Street View was integrated into Google Earth 4.2 in April 2008. Street View coverage continues to expand, and in many places is recaptured at regular intervals. Find a map of current Street View coverage here. A portable Street View camera called the Trekker was developed in 2012 and has been used to capture many off-road locations. Later that year an underwater version was produced, which has since been used to capture underwater imagery in a number of locations around the globe.

Historical imagery
First introduced with version 5 in February 2009, the ‘historical imagery’ feature gives the user access to Google’s enormous archive of imagery for each location. ‘Historical imagery’ is a misnomer in that newer imagery than is found in the default layer can often be found. This extremely useful feature is unique to Google Earth and is not implemented in Google maps.

3D Buildings and other 3D models
Google Earth does not just show satellite and aerial imagery, but includes 3D terrain as well as 3D models of buildings and more. Google has tried many different techniques to try and get the whole world modelled in 3D. One early effort included buying a modelling program called SketchUp, releasing a free version of it and encouraging users to create building models. Anyone could create a model and upload it to the 3D warehouse, and if approved, it would be put into Google Earth for all to see. Google also tried another technique known as ‘Building Maker’ that allowed users to create 3D models out of 45 degree imagery. Google has also at various times purchased large sets of 3D imagery of cities and placed them in Google Earth.

Google eventually decided that the manual modelling approach was too slow and required considerable resources for quality control. In 2012 Google sold Sketchup and soon after announced a program of automatically generating 3D imagery via stereophotogrammetry from aerial imagery. A year later they stopped accepting new submissions of 3D models from the 3D warehouse and have since been rolling out 3D imagery at an ever increasing pace. Here at GEB we maintain a KML file that shows both current 3D coverage and a timeline of when the 3D was first added to Google Earth.

Sky, Mars and Moon
In 2007 Google added the Google Sky mode to Google Earth. This allows you to turn Google Earth into a basic astronomy application. Although there are probably better specialist applications out there for astronomers, Google Sky is a great way for the ordinary person to learn more about astronomy and view some great astronomical imagery in context.
In February 2009 Google Mars was released as part of Version 5. Later that year on July 9th in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, Google Moon was added. The Sky, Mars and Moon modes come with a wealth of added information in the form of layers.

So far the Earth, Sky, Mars and Moon modes are the only ones available in Google Earth. However, with the appropriate imagery and a simple KML file you can easily turn the Earth into another planet or even into the Sun.

Ocean Floor
Google in general does not put satellite imagery of the oceans into Google Earth unless there is something of particular interest. Instead, a shaded relief map of the ocean floor is displayed. Initially it was just a flat image at sea level, but from Version 5 Google Earth has a 3D model of the ocean floor and you can ‘fly’ under the ocean surface and look at the underwater relief. The ocean floor map is being continually improved, with data from multiple sources being combined. There are also a number of layers dedicated to the oceans, as well as underwater Street View.

Layers and third party content
Google Earth is a lot more than just imagery and mapping information. The built in layers provide a wealth of information geographically displayed. Many of the layers are provided by third party organisations. In addition, with KML it is possible for individuals or organizations to share information which you can then save to your ‘My Places’ and have as your own personal ‘layers’ collection. Just recently Google has added a layer simply labelled ‘Coming soon’, suggesting a new layer or layers are about to be added.


Information overload. Turning on all the layers shows just how much information is available – and this is despite a clever algorithm that limits the number of icons shown by each layer.

Flight Simulator
In September 2006 Google Earth introduced ‘G-Force Mode’, which allowed a user with a joystick or other controller to navigate around Google Earth in similar fashion to a flight simulator. The next year, in August 2007, a proper ‘flight simulator mode’ was introduced. Since then, various third parties have implemented improvements or completed replacements to give a much more sophisticated flight simulator experience. The best of these is probably GEFS Online, which is based on the Google Earth plugin.

Liquid Galaxy
In 2008, Google showcased a setup with 8 screens set up in a 360 degree booth all showing Google Earth in a synchronised fashion to give an immersive experience. They have since published instructions for building a similar set-up and anyone can create their own with multiple computers and screens.

Google Earth API/plugin
In 2006 Google provided an Application Program Interface (API) based on Microsoft’s Component Object Model (COM) technology, which allowed programmers to control Google Earth from another program. On Mac OS X there was also an undocumented API for AppleScript. Later, Google release the Google Earth browser plugin, which has a JavaScript API. It also provided sample code to show how to use it, including the very popular Monster Milktruck driving simulator. However, the Google Earth plugin is based on NPAPI, which is now ageing technology and considered a security risk. As a result, browsers are dropping support for it and Google has deprecated the Google Earth API.

Imagery and database size
Google Earth features satellite imagery and aerial imagery. Most of the imagery comes from third parties, including satellite imaging companies and governments. However, Google now collects quite a lot of aerial imagery themselves.

Google has not made the size of the Google Earth database public. In 2006 we estimated it to be over 150 terabytes. The quantity of imagery has increased dramatically since then, so will be in the petabytes by now. And that is not including Street View imagery and the need to replicate over many servers to provide good performance.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Earth Imagery – May 27th, 2015

ven 26-06-2015

Google have updated their ‘Latest Google Earth Imagery Updates’ map to show an update on May 27th, 2015. They previously had an updates map for June 8th, which we already looked at, so it appears that they are going backwards. We are not complaining, since we welcome any information on imagery updates, as it allows us to look through the new imagery for interesting finds. If you see anything interesting let us know in the comments.

We should note however that this update is already included in the May 2015 updates map.


Latest Google Earth Imagery map – May 27th, 2015. Larger version.

View it in Google Earth using this KML file. As always, this is a network linked KML and will update as Google updates their map. The only way we know of for keeping a permanent record is via a screenshot.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Street View goes vertical

jeu 25-06-2015

Google are constantly looking for new places to capture Street View, often going a long way away from the nearest street. The Street View cameras have been on boats all over the world such as the Amazon River and Greenland, under the oceans and on zip-lines into the Amazon forest canopy.

Now the street view cameras have been carried up sheer rock walls to give us views of one of the most famous rock climbs in the world – the El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, California, USA. Read more about it on Google’s LatLong blog. It is not technically the first vertical Street View, as the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai gave us Street View going up to the 154 floor, but I am sure they took the lift.

The Yosemite area has the new 3D and looks excellent in Google Earth, but we were unable to view the Street View from within Google Earth. We had similar problems with underwater street view and the forest canopy Street View.

If you watch the intro to the above YouTube video, there is a nice ‘fly in’ to the location reminiscent of a Google Earth tour, but done using Google Maps. However, as far as I know, it is not something Google has made available to the public.


Click here to find the above location in Street View.

They have managed to erase all traces of the Street View camera’s mounts even better than the way they erase the Street View car. This seems like a job for a drone, but maybe the Street View camera is too heavy.

Interestingly, Apple has named its latest Operating System OS X El Capitan after the same location.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Adobe Flash in Google Earth

mer 24-06-2015

In our post on UrtheCast earlier this week, we incorrectly stated that Google Earth’s internal browser does not support flash content. It actually does and has done so since version 4.2.

To test whether Flash is working in Google Earth check the popups in the layer Ocean‑>National Geographic‑>Magazine Quiz, as they contain flash content. If you see the quiz questions and answers then Flash is working. If you see a message telling you to install the Flash player, then here is how to install it if you are on Windows. Other operating systems should be similar:
Go to this website in a browser. Select the link that says ‘Download the Adobe® Flash® Player system plug-in.’ On the next page, if you do not want it to install a copy of ‘McAfee Security Scan Plus’ then be sure to un-tick that offer. Then click ‘install now’. Run the file it downloads. When the installation is complete restart Google Earth and you should find Flash content is now working.

Once you have Flash working, you can view the UrtheCast videos from within Google Earth using this KML file

While identifying the location of the Barcelona, Spain, video, we discovered that it includes footage of the Montjuïc Castle, parts of which are censored in Google Earth. Not only is the aerial imagery for the location blurred, but the 3D imagery of Barcelona gives it a wide berth, clearly for censorship reasons.


Censored area in Barcelona, Spain, captured in uncensored HD video by UrtheCast.

Also of note is that since our recent post on UrtheCast, they have made two major announcements on their blog. Firstly, they plan to build and launch their own constellation of imaging satellites and secondly, they plan to acquire two already existing satellites, Deimos 1 and 2, together with their existing imagery archives.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

New Google Earth layer(s) – coming soon

mar 23-06-2015

Last week we pointed out that some of the Google Earth weather layers were out of date. Google fixed the problem soon after, and at about the same time added a tantalizing new layer that just says ‘Coming soon’. This may be timed to coincide with Google Earth’s 10th birthday this coming Sunday, June 28th. According to Wikipedia, Google Earth was first released under the Google brand name on June 28th, 2005, although it was release as Google Earth 3.0 as it was a continuation of a previous product called Keyhole that had been in existence since 2001.

While you wait for the new layer(s) to appear, this would be a good time to go through all the layers that already exist and see if you can find something interesting you may have missed. We have been looking through the layers ourselves and found that although some of them are not being maintained by the data providers the majority of the layers work quite well and have a wealth of useful information.

We also discovered that the roads layer has recently seen an update – we are not sure exactly when. It had previously not been updated for over a year, so we are glad to see this update. Finally, some street names in Livingstone, Zambia, that we added to Google Maps last September are now in Google Earth. Although strangely, a name correction we made in Google Maps has not been carried through. ‘Libala Drive’ is supposed to be ‘Airport Road’ and the correct name is shown in Google Maps.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

BlackSky Global

lun 22-06-2015

Last week we had a look at UrtheCast, a satellite imaging company that has just released their first videos captured from the International Space Station.

Today we are looking at another satellite imaging company called BlackSky Global. They have not yet launched any satellites, but plan to launch six satellites in 2016 and have a 60 satellite constellation by 2019. For more details see their press release.

They are not the first company to plan a large constellation of imaging satellites. Last year we talked about a company called Satellite which had very similar plans and launched their first satellite in June 2014. However, there is no sign of any progress from them since then. Skybox Imaging, which is owned by Google, also plans a large fleet and already have two operational satellites.

Most of the above companies have or are planning relatively cheap satellites with a resolution of about 1m and focusing their marketing message on their ability to capture frequent images. Google Earth gets most of its imagery from DigitalGlobe, whose best resolution satellite WorldView-3 has a resolution of 31cm. Google also gets some imagery from Airbus Defence and Space (listed as CNES/Astrium in the copyright information). However, their best satellites seem to be SPOT 6 and 7, with a resolution of 1.5m.

The global image used in Google Earth when zoomed out comes from Landsat 8, which has a resolution of 15m.

The best resolution imagery in Google Earth is aerial imagery. However, many parts of the world only have satellite imagery, and even areas with aerial imagery usually do not have frequent updates and could benefit from a greater availability of satellite imagery. We have been hoping to see Skybox imagery in Google Earth but are not aware of any being featured so far.

With the addition of BlackSky Global, the future of satellite imaging looks good.


BlackSky’s Pathfinder spacecraft, one of its first satellites.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

UrtheCast Releases HD Videos of Earth from Space

ven 19-06-2015

UrtheCast is a company that captures satellite imagery from cameras mounted on the International Space Station (ISS). We mentioned them back in March 2012 when they first announced that they would be mounting two video cameras on the ISS. Since then, they have successfully mounted the two cameras and on Wednesday 17th June, they released the first sample videos. They say it is 4K video with a resolution of 1m. They also claim it is the first full colour HD video of earth from space.

We would have liked to put the videos in Placemarks in Google Earth, but the video player requires Flash, which Google’s internal browser does not support.

Boston, USA. Notice how the tall buildings appear to move because the ISS is moving overhead. Much longer videos of a single location would not be possible.

For the rest of the UrtheCast sample videos see their blog post.

Skybox Imaging, which was acquired by Google last year, also captures HD video, but theirs is black and white. You can see samples of Skybox videos on their YouTube channel.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Earth weather information out of date

jeu 18-06-2015

As a number of GEB readers have noted, some of Google Earth’s weather layers have not been working correctly and as of this writing the data is out of date. The ‘Conditions and Forecasts’ layer has not been updated since May 28th, 2015. The ‘Oceans Observations’ layer has even older data, mostly from 2013. The ‘Clouds’ and ‘Radar’ layers are up to date – see the ‘Information’ layer for exact date and time for each and for animated versions of both layers.

We believe Google is aware of the problem with the ‘Conditions and Forecasts’ layer and is working to resolve it. Because weather information is really only useful when it is current, Google should consider modifying the layer to either give a clear warning message when weather information is out of date, or to replace the old data altogether with a ‘data unavailable’ message.

It is, of course, possible to get weather information from many other sources including weather.com the source Google Earth uses. We have not been able to find any site that gives similar weather information in KML format, but there are a number of different weather resources that are available in that format. A while back Frank made a collection of weather resources and it was updated by Mickey. We have also found that NOAA and NASA provide a variety of weather datasets as KMLs, although they are mostly focused on North America.


Sea surface temperatures from NASA.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Sun

mer 17-06-2015

Last month we had a look at the planet Mercury using Google Earth, and last year we did the same for various other planets using maps from the SETI Institute. The latter maps are sadly no longer available on the Google Maps Gallery. If any of our readers knows whether those maps are still available somewhere please let us know. We have also shown you a number of similar effects by James Stafford published on his barnabu blog.

Today, we thought we would try the same thing with the Sun.

To view it for yourself in Google Earth, download this KML file. It is best viewed with all layers turned off.

The image used comes from NASA and is a combination of three photos captured on October 14th, 2012. If you look at the poles, the joins are quite obvious. The images were captured by NASA’s two STEREO spacecraft and NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). To learn more about them and see how they are able to photograph all sides of the sun at once see this article on the NASA’s website.

Keep in mind that the sun’s surface is always changing and any ‘map’ of it is from a point in time. The same applies to the gas giants Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

The post Google Sun appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Tahina Circumnavigates the Earth

mar 16-06-2015

My name is Frank Taylor, and I am the founder and publisher of Google Earth Blog. I also recently completed an expedition to sail around the world. One of the many reasons I was immediately attracted to Google Earth in 2005 was that my wife Karen and I had for many years planned to circumnavigate the real Earth by sailboat. Google Earth provided a fantastic way to explore the places we planned to visit. We finally departed in 2009, and we have just completed (on June 11, 2015) our journey after sailing for over 5 years, more than 44,000 nautical miles, and visiting more than 30 countries. We used Google Earth to help share our experiences, and plan further explorations.

We spent years preparing for the trip, and in 2008 bought a beautiful catamaran we named Tahina, sold our house and cars and many other belongings, got our kids started in universities, and prepared to depart in November 2009. You can see the route of our circumnavigation in the screenshot of a map below. If you click this link, you can use Google Earth to zoom in to parts of the route in the Atlantic and Pacific and it will load detailed GPS tracks and maps of significant places, and geo-tagged photos of the places we visited (zoom in to New Zealand for example). You can also see many of the 360 panoramas I photographed along the way (a sort of mini-Street View of exotic places). The detailed maps have so far only been completed through the Pacific to New Caledonia, but I will update the rest later.

We thoroughly documented our adventures, with our TahinaExpedition.com web site and blog. We took nearly 100,000 photos and videos along the way, the best of which were shared on our site, Panoramio and Google Earth, and Google Picasa Web Albums. Google Earth and Maps were used extensively to map and show the places we visited including GPS tracks of our passages over water, and sometimes our trips on land. And the locations where our photographs were taken were mapped as well. We even used Google Earth on numerous occasions to help guide us to some of the more dangerous approaches to passes and bays where we visited. The satellite and aerial imagery of these locations proved invaluable to improving our situational awareness to both the land, the waters, and other hazards (sunken ships, reefs, and more) of the areas. [Read tips for sailors using Google Earth]

I have to thank many businesses who partnered with us to help share our experiences using many devices along the way. In particular, I want to give special thanks to Google who was very supportive in my crazy schemes to use Google Earth to share the places we visited. For example, I would sometimes fly a kite with a special camera rig (this was before drones became popular) to capture aerial photography of unique places and then Google would process and include the imagery in Google Earth (see example). The 360 photography I took sometimes involved setting up with a tripod on the edges of cliffs or buildings while turning around in circles to capture full spherical imagery. We also took video with an underwater remote operated vehicle (ROV – or drone in today’s terminology) of many places we visited (the ROV was made by our partner VideoRay).

We tried to raise awareness of many issues we saw facing our oceans and the marine life we witnessed along the way. Everything from trash in the oceans, overfishing, and many dying coral reefs were experienced by us on numerous occasions throughout our travels. We are greatly worried that our own children will find environmental devastation if they visit these same places in just a few years from now, or even worse when our grandchildren attempt it.

We stayed in contact with family and friends, and shared our experiences through a variety of means – primarily the Internet of course. On long passages we had both long-range radio communications (which we could use E-mail to get weather and share position reports over the Internet), and we also could use onboard satellite communications to do more Internet when needed (although quite expensive). When near land, we could sometimes get SIM cards for unlocked phones and use shore-based cell service for Internet. Other times we could find WIFI to use from our boat, other times we would have to find hotels or restaurants with WIFI service. In some locations there was no Internet, or even people, to be found at all.

Although our boat was far from home for many years, we would sometimes fly home to visit with family and friends back in the United States, usually once a year. And some friends and family would fly out to join us for a few days or weeks along the way. Even so, we missed many events in the lives of our friends and families, and sadly even the loss of a few. But, our lives were forever enriched by the the amazing experiences we had on this trip of a lifetime. We saw so many places, met so many wonderful people from the countries we visited, and shared our travels with many new and old friends along the way. There are a vast number of stories told of some of the more exciting or even terrifying moments on the Tahina site. We hope you’ll spend some time and explore our experiences some day.

Although our trip is now over, we plan to still share a few of the continuing experiences as we try to figure out what we are going to do next with our lives. We have a lot of reconnecting to do, and a lot of work unloading our boat and reorganizing our lives again. And, of course, I plan to update our maps with even more details of the entire trip and share them with Google Earth in the coming months. But, the real question we are asking ourselves is what will we do next? The answer to that question right now is that we will decide that when the time is right. Right now, we’re just going to enjoy being back home and we’ll decide when its time to pull the anchor up and move on to our next destination.

The post Tahina Circumnavigates the Earth appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

A Google Earth tour of Scott Jurek running the Appalachian Trail

lun 15-06-2015

We have looked at Steven Ho’s work a number of times before. My personal favourite was his Flying around with Blue Magpie Tea in Taiwan.

Ultramarathon runner Scott Jurek is currently running the Appalachian Trail, a distance of 2,189 miles (3,522 km). According to his Facebook page he recently passed the 800 mile mark (1,287 km). But to really put those numbers into perspective play this Google Earth tour that Steven Ho has created showing the route. Read more about it and why he created it on Steven’s blog.


When the tours starts it seems to quick until you realise just how long the route really is.

The Google Earth tour feature is a very underutilized feature of Google Earth. We wish there were more people creating Google Earth tours.

Steven has also created a more detailed map of the journey using the Google Earth plugin. However, as he notes in his blog, it is getting increasingly difficult to view Google Earth plugin content. In Google Chrome you actually have to change a special setting to allow the plugin, and even then it puts a warning message at the top of the page saying “This site uses a plugin (Google Earth) that will soon be unsupported.”.

The post A Google Earth tour of Scott Jurek running the Appalachian Trail appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

How to Resolve Google Earth Installation Issues

ven 12-06-2015

[Update: Also see this post for tips on how to get your icon back.]

Since the latest update to the Google Earth client, we have recently had a number of people contact us saying that their Google Earth icon has disappeared. In some cases they have tried to reinstall Google Earth from Google’s website without success.

We believe the disappearing icons is due to Google Earth doing an automatic update and deleting any icons you have pinned to the desktop / start screen or task bar and not restoring them correctly to those locations. So in some cases you will find that Google Earth is still installed, but you need to re-pin the icons to your favourite locations. In other cases, the Google Earth automatic installer has failed and you need to reinstall it.

The standard way to install Google Earth is called an on-line install and is initiated from Google’s main Google Earth page. It downloads a small installer first which then downloads and installs the rest. Sometimes this installer runs into problems and a solution that usually works is to use the offline installer instead. Just go to this page and select the latest version and your OS.

We recommend that everyone use Google Earth Pro, as it has a few extra features and is now free. If it asks you for a licence key, just use your email address and the key: GEPFREE.

Never download Google Earth from anywhere other than an official Google site.

If you are still having problems with the installation, check the ‘installations errors’ section on this page. If Google Earth installs but crashes on startup, check the instructions on this page.

If none of the above works, take note of any error messages and try posting your problem in the Google Earth help forum.

The post How to Resolve Google Earth Installation Issues appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

New Google Earth Imagery – June 8th, 2015

jeu 11-06-2015

Google have updated their ‘Latest Google Earth Imagery Updates’ map. To view it in Google Earth use this KML file. The last time they updated this particular map was for the April 24th update. There have, of course, been plenty of actual updates in between as can be seen from the monthly update map for May. For more on Google’s Imagery Updates maps and what they mean see this post.

The most obvious feature in this update is strips of imagery in northern India and southern Tibet surrounding Nepal. Both regions were affected by the Nepal earthquake in April. Google already added plenty of Nepal imagery after the Earthquake and again in May after a major aftershock. However, this newly added imagery is mostly old imagery from before the earthquake, presumably added to assist aid workers in those regions.


Latest Google Earth Imagery map – June 8th, 2015. Larger version.

The imagery has not yet made it into ‘historical imagery’ and some patches are not in the default layer, so we can’t view them yet. This is often an indication that there is something of interest in the imagery. One such image is of Cisco, Texas where there was a tornado in May. We will keep an eye on the location as it typically takes a week or so for new imagery to be added to ‘historical imagery’.


Google’s quality checks failed for this patch of imagery north of São Paul, Brazil. Find it with this KML file. We are not sure what caused the strange patterns, but Google shouldn’t have included this image, at least not in the default layer. It is also visible in Google Maps.

The post New Google Earth Imagery – June 8th, 2015 appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Saab and DigitalGlobe working on 3D globe

mer 10-06-2015

Saab and DigitalGlobe have announced a new joint venture called Vricon. It will be a Google Earth like product featuring 3D models similar to the 3D mesh that Google is rolling out. The key difference is that Vricon is using DigitalGlobe’s satellite imagery to create the 3D, whereas Google uses aerial imagery that must be specially captured for the areas they wish to map. This means that although Vricon’s imagery will necessarily be of lower resolution, it can have far greater reach and can be produced from the already existing DigitalGlobe archives. Also of note is that this is a commercial product targeted at enterprises and governments, whereas Google Earth is a free product.

Learn more about it and how it is produced in this article from Time magazine.

To see sample 3D imagery see the various demonstration videos at Vricon’s home page. For a tour of various locations look under “Capabilities->Explore Vricon 3D data”.


New York as seen in a Vricon promotional video.


The same location as seen in Google Earth.

As you can see above, the Vricon 3D model struggles with the gaps between buildings. Google’s 3D models often have similar problems but it is more pronounced in the Vricon model due to the lower resolution. Also of note in the New York images above, the Vricon model seems to have completely failed with the new World Trade Centre towers. This is likely due to the fact that they use satellite imagery from a range of dates, including during the World Trade Centre construction, which would have confused the algorithms used to create the 3D.


Beijing, China, as seen in a Vricon promotional video.

One of the locations featured in the promotional videos, is Beijing, China. Google has not yet released any 3D for China – possibly due to the difficulties in getting clearance from the Chinese government. However, with satellite imagery no such clearance is necessary. So maybe Google should consider using a similar technique to provide lower resolution 3D in areas where they cannot gather aerial imagery. The only problem is that Google does not have access to the full archive of DigitalGlobe satellite imagery, and now that DigitalGlobe has the commercial Vricon product, they might be reluctant to allow Google to use their imagery to create a free version. There are, however, other satellite imagery providers that might be willing to work with Google. DigitalGlobe, however, has the highest resolution satellite imagery available coming from their WorldView-3 satellite.

The post Saab and DigitalGlobe working on 3D globe appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Celebrate World Oceans Day with the Catlin Seaview Survey

mar 09-06-2015

Yesterday, June 8th was World Oceans Day. What better way to celebrate it than to look at Street View under the oceans, a feature first introduced in 2012. Google, in conjunction with the XL Catlin Seaview Survey team have recently released 40 new underwater Street View locations. In addition, the Google LatLong blog is releasing a series of articles by members of the XL Catlin Seaview Survey team.

The blue markers for some of new imagery do not yet show in either Google Maps or Google Earth, so we recommend for now using the map in the Google LatLong blog post to find and explore some of the new locations.


A reef in the Solomon Islands.


Mantis Reef (Great Barrier Reef, Australia)

Google or the XL Catlin Seaview Survey team needs to develop a smaller camera system that can be remote controlled so that it doesn’t scare off the fish. Nearly everywhere you look in the imagery, there are shoals of interesting fish in the distance, but finding close up shots is really difficult. Clearly they are a bit camera shy, presumably because of the size of the Street View camera plus diver.

The post Celebrate World Oceans Day with the Catlin Seaview Survey appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones