We often get asked by GEB readers how to upgrade to the ‘live’ version of Google Earth. Unfortunately, no such version exists and all imagery in Google Earth is dated – and in many places, the latest imagery, both over-head and Street View (where it exists), is several years old. However, it is possible to see some live content in Google Earth. For example, Google has recently added a new Voyager tour to the web / Android version of Google Earth that features bear cams (web cams looking at bears). Read more about it in Google’s blog post.
The first ‘bear cam’ we looked at featured a bear fishing live on camera.
For more web cams, in Google Earth classic, enable the Gallery->Webcams.travel layer. Keep in mind that most web cams do not show live video, but instead, a series of images captured at intervals, and it is not unusual for them to be out of date. So be sure to look for a time stamp before assuming that the image you see is current.
The closest one can get to live satellite imagery is feeds from weather satellites (as are used to create the ‘clouds’ layer in Google Earth). An example is the Himawari-8 satellite over Japan. Weather satellites are very low resolution and are mostly only useful for viewing cloud patterns and snow cover. For higher resolution, Sentinel-2 imagery is often published within a day of being captured, but requires downloading and processing to view. Landsat imagery is another option, but often takes longer to be released. To find the latest imagery use our KML files: Sentinel-2 and Landsat. We recommend only opening one at a time due to the large number of polygons in the files.
It is also possible to see live views from the International Space Station but you typically cannot see much detail of the surface of the earth.