Skybox captures Tower of London poppies from space

In June last year Google acquired Skybox Imaging. So far they have launched two imaging satellites, but plan to launch many more.

We have had a look at some of their early images, such as the animated gifs of Burning Man created from images captured during the festival.

We also had a look at the Skybox for Good program that collects satellite imagery for selected non-profits.

Skybox has posted on their site a satellite image showing the Poppy display at the Tower of London that took place in November last year to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

Tower of London
Satellite image of the Tower of London showing the moat filled with red ceramic poppies. See the full image on the Skybox website.

We have been hoping to see Skybox imagery making its way into Google Earth’s imagery, but we are not aware of this happening yet. It may be that Google has decided not to use Skybox imagery for Google Earth because the imagery is not as high resolution as other providers, such as Digital Globe.

About Timothy Whitehead

Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.


  1. The image of the dry moat of the Tower awash with a huge number of red ceramic poppies is striking, but the resolution of this example of the Skybox imagery is way below the current default in Google Earth in which you could probably pick out one of the ravens which strut around the Tower if you tried. So let’s hope that Skybox at such resolution makes its way into GE only where it would actually add value by providing better quality imagery.

    • I think the purpose of Skybox satellites is more in line with what Planet Labs is doing with their constellation of 71 miniature satellites (they lost 26 sats with the Antares rocket failure): try to cover the whole earth in very short time and frequently. This enables tracking changes and might be useful for environment protection, city management, etc.

      Check and view the TED video with the CEO.

    • Timothy Whitehead says:

      Current imagery in Google Earth for most large cities in Europe and the US is aerial imagery captured from aircraft. Aerial imagery is typically of higher resolution than satellite imagery but tends to be captured less often. I would like to see Skybox imagery added to the historical imagery so that we can look at changes over time and particular events that have been missed by higher resolution satellites or aerial imagery.

  2. Paul Lackey says:

    Well, if they at least used Skybox imagery to replace the remaining 15m Landsat baseline imagery, that would be nice. It’s pretty ridiculous that there are still large swaths stuck at 15m.

  3. PurpleHaze says:

    I wouldn’t hold my breath for any positive changes from Google. They are more about marketing compared to their early stages and whatever they change will be more beneficial to them not you.

    Hence all the negative reviews since the YouTube take over way back when. Google has forgotten it’s the people that make a company but history loves to repeat itself.

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