Google Earth live?

Ever since Google Earth was first released, people have been asking how they can access the “live” version. My standard answer is that it’s 10-20 years away, and that’s still likely the case.
However, a company called UrtheCast is trying to make it a bit more of a reality. They’ll be mounting two cameras on the International Space Station that will stream live content for people to view.

Of course, they’ll only be capturing a very small area of earth at any given time, so it’s certainly quite a long way from being “Google Earth live”, but it’s interesting nonetheless. That said, there are a few other problems to consider that they’ve hopefully researched.
The biggest problem is that you can’t just point the camera on a particular location and expect to get a good shot. Problems with that are not limited to:
1) For any particular orbit, you may not be able to view the desired location (too far over the horizon, too much of an angle). You might a have to wait dozens of orbits to get over that spot.
2) Daylight – you have to be over the location at the right time of day.
3) Weather – too many variables to count a) clouds b) haze c) pollution.
4) time of year can be a factor – sun angle too low, and weather.
5) Conflicting opportunities. How do you decide which place to have your camera aimed at when there are 100 different places to aim and you’re moving at 17,500 mph?
This leads back to the main article we wrote on how Google Earth imagery is processed. Even for static imagery it’s quite a long process. To properly put live video into Google Earth would be amazingly difficult. As far as I know, UrtheCast has no plans to integrate their data with Google Earth, but there’s still quite a lot to consider.
All of that said, this looks like a pretty neat project!
(via +Google Creative Sandbox)

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.


  1. I would already be happy if all Google Earth imagery is renewed at least once a year.

  2. Now that is awesome. I have always wanted a civilian satellite-cam or UAV network that would let me look down at my phone at a live aerial feed, and zoom in to the top of my head, so I can see myself using my phone to see myself!

  3. The technology has been there for years. It’s called a “webcam” … 🙂

  4. Let me guess, it’s going live on April 1st?

  5. Video quality is 3.5 FPS with 1 meter ground resolution of a 40km swath of land… this is not your grandmother’s webcam.

    • can one see the actual condition of land as it was 6 month back, before construction of a building there.

      can i zoom that image more than 20X, which normally zoomed in google earth satellite imagery.

  6. Even with UrtheCast’s apparent limitations we think this is a game changer for how people view earth and how we interact with it and each other. The educational and enviromental possibilities are endless much less the social impact. Imagine live video of Arab Spring while being able to simultaneously follow twitter feeds and video of people on the ground and being able to have that as a historical archive?
    Thanks for your interest and the conversation,
    Cameron Chell, CoFounder UrtheCast

  7. I am fade off of watching same old map, I want new not 2-3 years old map…….

  8. If google earth live works aim the cameras to boulder highway and Gibson Henderson nv to find a teenager who was washed away in the flood channel during a flash flood. Teams will be back out tomorrow to continue search.

  9. I’ll be preparing my case against google because they reveal my position on earth when I didn’t gave them permission. How bad the quality of the pictures are, this is not done in any case. This is 1984 (George Orwell) all the way… This is just the first step. When people are comfortable with it they take it to the next step… Somebody has to stop this.

    • Why do u half to worry about it unless you are doing something wrong I can agree if it’s accessing your inside apartment then it would be privacy vilashon but outside its free game it’s everybody world free to travail as it states in the constitushon if I can save someone being murderd then I’m for it or many even better see in the future would be even better maby it will keep women and men pants on loyalty is the best

      • Did you make it past 3rd grade? Travail? Constitushon? Perhaps you should spend time educating yourself instead of commenting on the internet. Some day maybe you can read and write like a normal grown up.

        • Youngster says

          Thank you Jon! I was going to say something about his credibility to comment on such an important subject was definitely self revoked. If you can’t even spell the word, “constitution”, then you really have no right commenting on it?! Chances are that your lack of pride or concern to properly spell such an important word, means you have no real interest in it because you’re not protected by it?!! Go back to your own country and learn how to spell our language properly first before you try and criticise us!!

        • Wow. You both are really making fun of someone’s spelling? What grade are YOU BOTH in?? Because that looked like elementary bullying…. and I think they have a valid point, if you don’t have anything to hide on the outside, then why are you worried and upset? They are also exactly right when they stated the point that it’s not invading the privacy of your home… I think google earth and anything else like it to come in the future, is absolutely brilliant….. So, long story short, go bully somewhere else. This is supposed to be a blog not a schoolyard…….

  10. @Tim, That is impossible!

  11. steven hallows says

    nothing wrong with this happening i think it could be a great way to preventing crime and catching people more easily and it would be great for traffic and accident updates not to mention the impact of technology why people moan about sewing them for not giving permission for google to view you then your talking bollocks whats the harm in people seeing you round unless you really have something to hide, people might thinks its just a way for people to keep an eye on you but whats to say there watching every step you take through the day and if something happened to you wouldnt you wanna see why well then you would be able to i think thats this is a great step and i totally agree with this happening

  12. That’s exactly what the bible predicts is that people will love the Antichrist when he comes up with the one world government and has all the answers.

    Then he will start to revel his *true colors* so to speak after a few short years in service.

    This all has to happen and then *end game*.

    • this will be nice to be live i could track my crew working, i actually enjoy google earth, when we have large scale project so we can see the over view of the land clearing we have to do and other thing unseen from the ground ., Thanks Google

    • you’re friggin nuts dude

  13. this idea of google live feed is a reality the goverment doesnt want u to know . remember the japan tsunami they had a live feed back then focusing on the tragedy. they were like about a thousand feet in the air and i doubt it was from any helicopter or plane.

  14. I’ve worked in I/T since around the time of Neil Armstrong’s small step (google it, kiddos). What Google & co. has done in mapping the planet from space to streets to information and the enabling technological evolution continues to amaze this old-timer. One can only imagine the technology we haven’t yet been told about…

  15. Some time ago I made a post that spoke a little about the subject, and explained that the only way we could see pictures in real time on Google Earth could be the superposition of images from cameras within the same city. What the live satellite images I totally agree with your cons .. is actually quite difficult to do. regards

  16. “… the “live” version. My standard answer is that it’s 10-20 years away”
    I don’t think so.

    • Mickey Mellen says

      Fair enough. How far out do you think it is? Part of it depends on what we mean by “live Google Earth”; I see that has >1m imagery for most of the world, viewable in real-time. I don’t see it coming any time soon, but you never know.

  17. derek lake says

    I can not use google earth it does not recognise the address or post code,?

  18. Very old article now… However, the video ( ) is for some reason set to private.

  19. SortingHat says

    I don’t think GE Live will happen until people demand real change in our political party system that is divided to the point nothing useful can get done.

    Right now our military has the ability to do things like that but it won’t be released to the general public both for legit security reasons and to cover up what they DON’T want the public seeing that isn’t morally right they are doing to the public.

    If the public were allowed to see real time GE too many critical questions would eventually be raised by alert people and by sheer dumb luck.

  20. weather. you should make a layer to were not only rain but lighting as well maybe tornado animation were they are getting tornadoes. just a thought.

  21. can i see more

  22. Example pretend your parked somewhere but still don’t show on google earth how long does it take to see the vehicle

  23. veryyyyy good

  24. My name is Jin Lu. I am writing to ask you for help. I am in Toronto and trying to leave for the square. I asked my family drive me an automobile to help me to move. But each time, they could not reach me. I went to Derry and could not find them. This is where they are supposed to stay. If I have live Google map of Toronto area, I can tell if they are in the airport.

    Could you help me to upgrade my Google Chrome so that I can get live map. I asked Eric to help, he said he could not get the software upgraded. Could you help?

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.