How was Google Earth developed
Millions of satellite images expand Google Earth
One of the most comprehensive documentation of the changes on earth is now available to the public. In close cooperation between Google Earth, ESA, the European Commission, NASA and the US Geological Survey, 24 million satellite images from the last 37 years have been embedded in a new layer of Google Earth - this is how a new view of our home planet was created, with that you can track changes in time-lapse.
This update from Google Earth was the most comprehensive since 2017 and now enables users to discover the earth in a completely new dimension - namely time. This new view of our planet is now available in timelapse and takes users on an almost 40-year trip around the world through the past. The update shows how drastically the earth is changing, for example how climate change and certain human behavior are affecting it.
Users can explore every corner of the world. You can watch the ever-changing coastlines or witness how megacities grow, how forests are cut down and much more. Google Earth offers a guided tour for each subject area; this way you can better understand what changes are taking place on our planet and how people experience them.
Rebecca Moore, Director of Google Earth said, “This update was made possible thanks to open data provided by the European Union's Copernicus program and its Sentinel satellites, as well as NASA's Landsat program and the US Geological Survey. The Copernicus Sentinel-2 high-resolution imaging mission was an integral part of developing the new time-lapse feature of Google Earth and the unique global view we are now offering to people everywhere. "
Maurice Borgeaud, Head of Applications & Climate at ESA's Earth Observation Program, says: “The use of Sentinel satellite data as part of the Copernicus program allows millions of people to track changes on Earth. But the fleet of European satellites can do a lot more! With their data, we can also analyze all aspects of changes on earth, regardless of whether they have a natural origin or are man-made. We can also determine how they affect the climate. "
The fleet of Sentinel satellites is owned by the EU and designed to provide the comprehensive data and images needed for the EU's Copernicus environmental program. Data from the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission were primarily used to improve timelapse and its functionality. This provides high-resolution images, primarily for land surveillance.
The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission comprises a constellation of two identical satellites traveling in the same polar orbit at a distance of 180 ° so that optimal coverage and data delivery takes place. The combination of high-resolution, innovative spectral capacities, a field of view of 290 kilometers and regular overflight times enable unprecedented recordings of the earth, every five days and with a spatial resolution of 10 meters.
The development of the new timelapse function was time-consuming and includes what is known as “pixel crunching” in the Earth Engine - a Google analysis platform for spatial data. The animated timelapse images in Google Earth were created from over 20 million satellite images taken between 1984 and 2020. In total, it took thousands of machines in the Google Cloud more than two million hours to process 20 petabytes of satellite images into a single 4.4 terapixel video mosaic.
In Timelapse, users can enter any location in the search field and see how it has changed in time lapse. Timelapse data will be added to Google Earth annually for the next decade as more and more satellite images become available.
Discover the new level in Google Earth in timelapse.
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