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.