Google Earth has just being updated. That should mean clearer and sharper picture right? The scale of the update though is very huge in terms of comparison to how it was before.
One could be forgiven to think Google abandoned Google Earth and Maps as far as upgrades are concerned. In recent times, most apps and products of the tech giant have either being upgraded or updated to make them better. But not Google Earth whose last significant upgrade was three years ago. More on that later.
The recent upgrade has more to do with the satellite capturing the images used in Google maps. The new images would be from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Landsat 8 satellite which was launched 3 years ago and is integrated with the latest sensors from United States Geological Survey agency. Landsat 8 replaced Landsat 7 and it is apparently more powerful. At least the pictures from the new Google Maps prove that.
But how much more powerful is Landsat 8? If you consider the fact that Landsat 7 was commissioned in 1999, then you would begin to get an idea of how wide the difference in technology will be between the two satellites. We are talking of a 17 year gap. A period of time in which the landscape of the digital world has seriously altered.
For instance, when Landsat 7 was commissioned, Nokia was the world leader in the mobile world, while Blackberry was the phone to have if you are a rich tech-savvy business mogul. Nobody knew about Facebook then or WhatsApp or the iPhone. It is a whole new Landscape today with far superior technology. And it is this sort of superiority that Landsat 8 has over Landsat 7.
The Programs Manager of Google Earth Engine, Chris Herwig authored a blog post to announce the upgrade:
Three years ago we introduced a cloud-free mosaic of the world in Google Earth. Today we’re rolling out an even more beautiful and seamless version, with fresh imagery from Landsat 8 satellite and new processing techniques for sharper images than ever before. Satellite images are often cloudy, but not always over the same place, so we looked at millions of images and took the clearest pixels to stitch together this cloud-free and seamless image.Landsat 8, which launched into orbit in 2013, is the newest sensor in the USGS/NASA Landsat Program—superior to its predecessors in many ways. Landsat 8 captures images with greater detail, truer colors, and at an unprecedented frequency—capturing twice as many images as Landsat 7 does every day. This new rendition of Earth uses the most recent data available — mostly from Landsat 8 — making it our freshest global mosaic to date.
Like our previous mosaic, we mined data from nearly a petabyte of Landsat imagery—that’s more than 700 trillion individual pixels—to choose the best cloud-free pixels. To put that in perspective, 700 trillion pixels is 7,000 times more pixels than the estimated number of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, or 70 times more pixels than the estimated number of galaxies in the Universe.”
I guess that clears everything up. I love using Google Earth. It’s fun. With the software, I can explore any part of the world I chose to. Basically the whole world is right beneath my finger tips.
Here is the weird thing though, anytime I power up Earth, I find myself navigating to places I know already. I understand many people do the same thing too; unless they a have specific task to check a location other than somewhere they already knew.
Anyhow, I am off to look at the new sharper images from Google maps. I heard the old neighborhood I left about a decade ago has really changed.
image credit: Google