This Blue Marble Version 2.0 add-on overlays a beautiful image of the Earth created by NASA, called the Blue Marble Next Generation, when viewing Google Earth from space. When you get get closer to Earth the blue marble will fade away so you can see Google’s satellite and aerial photos. This version of the Blue Marble add-on has some big improvements. You must be using the latest GE 4 (version 4.0.2413 or greater) for it to work properly. You can also turn on the real-time Global Clouds overlay in the folder (updates automatically every three hours). The clouds are turned off by default so it loads fast when you first bring up Google Earth. This version works much better as it uses built-in features to KML 2.1 to detect when to fade on and off the images. The version we published last week used a network link to communicate to a server to work properly. Move the “BlueMarble” folder to your “Places” to keep this around permanently. By the way, you will see a different version of the Earth each month – see this Blue Marble time animation for more information. Try this out, and see if you agree with me that Google should implement this for Google Earth!
Here’s a video demo of the new add-on:
Shortly after publishing the Blue Marble and Clouds add-on published last week, I was asked by Google to try and use a built-in feature with KML 2.1 to implement the same thing. Barry Hunter (who worked with me on this project) had tried something when KML 2.1 first came out last spring, but it didn’t work as expected so we used a network link client/server approach (NOTE: the version we published last week has the advantage of working with older versions of GE).
After I experimented with the same approach, I discovered there is a bug when viewing an image overlay over zero degrees in latitude (the image overlay flickers or disappears). However, over the weekend I discovered a little hack that makes the bug disappear. A small blank transparent image overlay at high altitude over the equator prevents the flicker/disappearance. So, you need to have the image overlay called “Clearfix” turned on in the BlueMarble folder to make this work properly. And, you need the latest GE 4 beta (version 4.0.2413 or greater). Google has fixed the bug, and it works without the little hack in Google Earth after version 4.0.2413.
You can find the images for NASA’s Blue Marble Next Generation here. Thanks to Barry Hunter at Nearby for working with me on this project.