The best of Google Earth for July 2016

Google has been adding new imagery to Google Earth, but has not updated historical imagery for over a month, so we are unable to do maps of the new imagery or see any of the added imagery that is not in the default layer.

Image recognition and Google EarthWe had a look at different ways to use AI image recognition with Google Earth imagery. There are a lot of interesting potential applications using the satellite and aerial imagery as well as Street View imagery.

Rainbow plane offsetsWe had a look at ‘rainbow planes’ and explained how the effect is a result of a combination of the satellite’s movement as well as the plane’s movement. We noted that it was possible to use rainbow planes to estimate the altitude of the satellite and use this, combined with the imagery date and imagery supplier, to guess which satellite captured the image. This lead us to create a list of imaging satellites. We also had a look at what sun-synchronous orbits look like and then created a Google Earth Tour animating the Landsat 7 orbit.

Watching sand dunes move with Google EarthWe had a go at watching sand dunes move with the aid of historical imagery. The biggest difficulty we had was finding suitable locations, as most deserts have very little historical imagery. We were, however, able to find some examples of sand dunes moving.

How often is Google Earth imagery updated: The continental USWe had a look at the last ten years of imagery updates for the continental US and for Europe and used this to estimate how frequent imagery updates can be expected in those regions. (Every three years for the Continental US and five to seven years for Europe.)

Street View Tour Maker by Steven HoWe had a look at a Street View tour maker created by Steven Ho. It is a clever idea that allows you to create Google Earth Tours that include Street View sequences.

Sheep ViewTired of waiting for Google to get to the Faroe Islands, some enterprising locals decided to capture their own Street View with the help of sheep. They have named it Sheep View.

Processing Sentinel imagery with GIMPWe showed you how to process Sentinel Imagery with the help of GIMP. If you decide to try it out be sure to also read this post, which has some more details and a tool to help create the final image overlay. We also had a look at a massive landslide in Alaska with the help of Sentinel imagery.

China’s South–North Water Transfer ProjectWe had a look at China’s south-north water transfer project, one of the most expensive engineering projects ever undertaken.

The “backspace key” in Google EarthWe discovered by accident that the backspace key allows you to go back to the previous view in Google Earth. In fact, it remembers everything you looked at for the whole session.

Multi-coloured snowWe found some multi-coloured patches of snow in various places that have been introduced as part of Google Earth’s new global moasaic. We believe it has to do with a bug in the way the imagery is processed for the transition between the global mosaic and the higher resolution imagery displayed when zoomed in.

Street View extended coverage and problems: Bangladesh and MongoliaWe noticed some extended Street View coverage in Bangladesh and Mongolia, but at the time the Mongolian Street View was not working. That has since been rectified.

Why “Google Jupiter” would have to be differentWith the arrival of NASA’s Juno probe at Jupiter we discussed why a ‘Google Jupiter’ would not work the same way as Google Earth or Google Mars. Jupiter simply doesn’t have a mapable surface. Google Jupiter would be closer to a weather map than a ground map.

Making use of the Google Earth APIWe created a tool that makes use of the Google Earth API to check whether placemarks have imagery after a given date. This is useful if you have a large number of placemarks and you want to check for recent imagery in their locations.

Google Earth weather layer broken againA number of readers reported that the Weather layer in Google Earth is broken. It only affects the ‘Conditions and Forecasts’ layer. It is still broken, with the exact same data showing for the places we looked at when we wrote the post.

Animating the Aral SeaWhile trying to determine how recent the imagery in Google Earth’s new global moasaic is, we created an animation of the shrinking Aral Sea.

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.

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. ben reuter says

    It seems that North Korea got new update, e.g. over here 39.404994° 127.535331° at the missile test site (unfortunately not April but May 2016). Several other spots in this country also got updates incl the capital

  2. The Springfield Hartford New Haven area got updated on July 13th to an image from 4/21/2016. There’s also a “hidden” image from 9/07/15 that got added along with the update. I say its hidden because the September 2015 image can’t be viewed due to the April 2016 image being on top of it. You can go to coordinates 42.3018663981, -72.5830998395 for evidence that the 9//07/15 image exists. It stinks that the hidden image of Central Connecticut can’t be viewed. Why does it sometimes take so long for google to update the historical imagery layer?

  3. FYI. Google has just updated their imagery to include parts of Washington D.C. They have not updated many of the suburbs or the mall. Security reasons?

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.