Blue Marble – Google Earth Generation

NASA’s “Blue Marble” is a beautiful series of high-resolution cloudless pictures of the Earth from space. Their most famous version was generated in 2002 and has been used widely by a variety of programs including NASA’s Worldwind product (which is similar in many ways to Google Earth). Recently NASA released the Blue Marble Next Generation. This new version is higher resolution (500 meters verses 1km in the previous version), and includes 12 different versions for each month in the year. How they managed to get a cloudless photo for the entire earth every month of the year is a miracle in itself. And they are beautiful photos!
Now you can view Blue Marble NG [EDIT: WorldWindCentral took away this feature] in Google Earth as well. Thanks to the efforts of the folks at WorldWind Central, they have created a Google Earth file which uses network links to download Blue Marble NG photos based on your current view.


Once you download their link, you can select which month you want to view by opening the “Blue Marble NG” folder in your “Temporary Places” folder. I recommend you unselect the “2004-12″ and select another month for your first viewing (due to the large number of people viewing the default month it is kind of slow). Make sure you try zooming in to load higher resolution pictures from Blue Marble (new images will load after you pause a few seconds after zooming).
The implementation for Google Earth is pretty good. But, there are some stitching problems (you can see edges to some of the images), and I suspect they will be having some bandwidth challenges with this type of implementation. But, I’m sure improvements will be forthcoming, and this is definitely worth looking at even if you just go to the NASA site and look at the examples they have there.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was released. He worked in 3D graphics for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank left in 2009 to circumnavigate the earth by sailboat as part of the Tahina Expedition.



Comments

  1. “But, there are some stitching problems (you can see edges to some of the images)”
    Thats GE engine approximation problem. If you check each tile coords you will notice they should overlap.
    “I suspect they will be having some bandwidth challenges with this type of implementation.”
    Not realy, currently only around 2% load.

  2. “(due to the large number of people viewing the default month it is kind of slow)”
    No bandwidth or load problems here. And they all use the same server (I think) so lots of people viewing one area would just speed up due to decreased disk access. As Nowak said, it’s a GE problem…it’s fine in WW ;)
    We’ve handled 10x current load with no sweat – you should’ve seen us just after WW got slashdotted and NASA’s server died, we picked up a lot of the load :D (Nowak (sysadmin) rocks ;)
    If you’ve downloaded the file >a few hours ago you’ll need to re-download it as the server it references is being a bit intermittent at the moment. But it’s being fixed up. Darn Dell rubbish ;)
    And yes…BMNG is absolutely stunning, thanks for mentioning us. Enjoy :)

  3. These are not based on cloudless photos. We processed the clouds out.

  4. “We processed the clouds out.” Really? That’s even cooler! On some cloudy days I wish I could do that! Especially on days I want to go flying…can I call you up and get you to remove them? :-)

  5. GeoFusion’s GeoPlayer provides much faster access access to the Blue Marble Next Gen. imagery. You can slide through the months as well. Check it out at http://www.geoplayer.com/gateways.html.

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