The Landsat program is a joint initiative between the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and NASA. For a more in-depth look at the Landsat program and its history see this pdf. The Landsat program has four decades worth of imagery, which is available to the public for free. Google has been using the imagery for Google Earth Engine since its release in 2010 and we have in the past looked at some time-lapses created with the imagery. Google Earth Engine makes the imagery available to researchers wanting to study it, as well as providing sophisticated imagery processing capability.
Last week the Official Amazon Web Services (AWS) blog announced the availability of Landsat 8 imagery on the AWS platform. This makes the imagery easily available for use by third parties. Landsat 8 is the latest Landsat satellite that was launched in 2013. It features 30m resolution imagery, so it is not nearly as high resolution as imagery we are used to seeing in Google Earth. However, Landsat 8 images the entire globe every 16 days, which makes possible this map called ‘Landsat-live’ from MapBox which shows the entire globe with imagery no older than 32 days. To see how Landsat 8 covers the globe, see this CartoDB animated map.
Ice on lake Michigan. Google avoids cloud, snow and ice cover, giving the illusion of endless summer in Google Earth.
Of course, as fans of Google Earth, we are hoping someone will create a web-service to allow us to view the imagery in Google Earth via a KML.
Story found via Google Maps Mania