In September we noted that Moldova had some unusual imagery provided by Cnes/SPOT Image when viewed from high altitudes. GEB reader S.H. let us know in the comments that the imagery was introduced on August 19th, 2015. It appears that Google has now reverted back to using Landsat imagery as is used for the rest of the world.
Until recently Moldova looked like this:
Now it looks like this:
So what happened? We can’t be sure without talking to someone in Google, but our best guess is that Google updated the ‘background imagery’ for Moldova and made a mistake by including it in the global zoomed out imagery and they have now corrected the mistake.
As we discussed here Google Earth shows Landsat imagery when you view it from high altitudes and as you zoom in, it transitions to higher resolution satellite imagery from different suppliers. Behind that high resolution imagery there is another layer we call the ‘background imagery’ that fills the gaps were no high resolution imagery is available. As we saw in our series on Google Maps maximum zoom background imagery is either Landsat imagery which is very low resolution or imagery from Cnes/Spot Image which is medium resolution. We suspect that Moldova previously had Landsat imagery as its ‘background imagery’ and this was replaced with Cnes/Spot Image imagery which is what it has now.
We also discovered that in neighbouring Romania the names for 2nd Level admin regions (which appear if you have the ‘Borders and Labels’ layer turned on) appear a bit too soon when zooming in making for a very crowded map.