Google announced that it’s launching new satellite imagery for Google Maps and Google Earth, and says it’s “virtually cloud-free”. This, of course, means clearer and more accurate imagery.
Google Earth Engine tech lead Matt Hancher writes in a blog post, “Our satellite imagery is usually created like a quilt: we stitch together imagery of different parts of the world. Using a process similar to how we produced the global time-lapse imagery of the Earth, we took hundreds of terabytes of data from the USGS’s and NASA’s Landsat 7 satellite—sometimes dozens of photos of a single spot in the world—and analyzed the photos to compute a clear view of every place, even in tropical regions that are always at least partly cloudy.”
“The result is a single, beautiful 800,000 megapixel image of the world, which can be viewed in Earth and Maps when you’re zoomed out to a global view,” adds Hancher. “This global image is so big, if you wanted to print it at a standard resolution of 300 dots per inch you’d need a piece of paper the size of a city block! This image is then blended into our highest resolution imagery, giving a beautiful cloud-free global view and detailed images in the same seamless map.”
Here are a couple of the before and after comparisons Google shares:
These are Central Papua, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, respectively.
The new imagery can be seen by turning on satellite view on Google Maps or zooming out while in Google Earth.
Google gets into more technical details in a post on its Lat Long blog.