Satellite imagery updates layer: another look

A couple of weeks ago we had a look at Google Earth’s new ‘Satellite imagery updates’ layer. One notable feature of the new layers is that they can be put into your ‘My Places’ and then exported to KML. Previously, Google would release update maps via a Google map. Although it was possible to view it in Google Earth, there was no way to save it as KML. Today, we are having a look at what sort of things can be done when you have direct access to the data.

In our previous post on this layer we used this website to extract the areas of the different images and then used MS Excel to work out the total areas of the new imagery by continent:

Continent Area (sq. km)
Asia 342,988
North America 314,332
Africa 125,841
Europe 100,481
South America 43,019
Australia 20,346
Oceans & Islands 6,098
Total 953,104

 
Another thing we can do is get the dates of the imagery into Excel. To do this, we exported each continent as a KML file, renamed them to *.xml and then opened them in Excel as XML files. We then combined them into one spreadsheet.

Now we can find out which is the oldest and newest image in the collection. The oldest is a strip of imagery captured on November 5th 2010, in Tibet, China. This is one of many old images in the region that were added by Google to help aid workers in the region in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake. The newest is a pair of images captured on June 5th, 2015, in Hunan Province, China.

We can also get a better overall picture of the age of the imagery by counting the images by year:

Year # of images
2010 4
2011 6
2012 19
2013 16
2014 41
2015 767

 
and breaking 2015 down into months:

Month # of images
January, 2015 1
February, 2015 5
March, 2015 19
April, 2015 259
May, 2015 459
June, 2015 24

 
Another fun thing we can do is reproduce the KML colour coded by date. We had to figure out how to export XML from Excel, and with a little help with the colour scheme from this site we were able to produce this KML file. So download it now and try it out!

We would love it if Google were to include in the metadata the imagery provider and whether it is satellite imagery or aerial imagery.

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.






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Comments

  1. It would be useful to know how often this new layer will be updated, and whether it will be a comprehensive global snapshot each time or some sort of ‘rolling’ picture.

    On the subject of old imagery, beyond that in the collection described in the post, there are still unexpected small patches in France of very low res imagery which are relics from what was put on GE circa 2006, for example around Rhodes in the Moselle department – it has distinctive bright blue inland water. Probably many similar examples in well populated areas all need updating.

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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.