Google Earth v7.0 running on Windows 7
|Original author(s)||Google Inc.|
|Initial release||June 11, 2001|
|Preview release||Windows, OS X, Linux
188.8.131.520 (April 22, 2013 ) [±]
|Available in||45 languages|
Google Earth is a virtual globe, map and geographical information program that was originally called EarthViewer 3D, and was created by Keyhole, Inc, a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) funded company acquired by Google in 2004 (see In-Q-Tel). It maps the Earth by the superimposition of images obtained from satellite imagery, aerial photography and GIS 3D globe. It was available under three different licenses, two currently: Google Earth, a free version with limited function; Google Earth Plus (discontinued), which included additional features; and Google Earth Pro ($399 per year), which is intended for commercial use.
The product, re-released as Google Earth in 2005, is currently available for use on personal computers running Windows 2000 and above, Mac OS X 10.3.9 and above, Linux kernel: 2.6 or later (released on June 12, 2006), and FreeBSD. Google Earth is also available as a browser plugin which was released on May 28, 2008. It was also made available for mobile viewers on the iPhone OS on October 28, 2008, as a free download from the App Store, and is available to Android users as a free app in the Google Play store. In addition to releasing an updated Keyhole based client, Google also added the imagery from the Earth database to their web-based mapping software, Google Maps. The release of Google Earth in June 2005 to the public caused a more than tenfold increase in media coverage on virtual globes between 2004 and 2005, driving public interest in geospatial technologies and applications. As of October 2011, Google Earth has been downloaded more than a billion times.
For other parts of the surface of the Earth, 3D images of terrain and buildings are available. Google Earth uses digital elevation model (DEM) data collected by NASA's Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM). This means one can view the whole earth in three dimensions. Since November 2006, the 3D views of many mountains, including Mount Everest, have been improved by the use of supplementary DEM data to fill the gaps in SRTM coverage.
Many people use the applications to add their own data, making them available through various sources, such as the Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) or blogs mentioned in the link section below. Google Earth is able to show all kinds of images overlaid on the surface of the earth and is also a Web Map Service client. Google Earth supports managing three-dimensional Geospatial data through Keyhole Markup Language (KML).
Google Earth is simply based on 3D maps, with the capability to show 3D buildings and structures (such as bridges), which consist of users' submissions using SketchUp, a 3D modeling program software. In prior versions of Google Earth (before Version 4), 3D buildings were limited to a few cities, and had poorer rendering with no textures. Many buildings and structures from around the world now have detailed 3D structures; including (but not limited to) those in the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, India, Japan, United Kingdom, Germany, Pakistan and the cities, Amsterdam and Alexandria. In August 2007, Hamburg became the first city entirely shown in 3D, including textures such as façades. The 'Westport3D' model was created by 3D imaging firm AM3TD using long-distance laser scanning technology and digital photography and is the first such model of an Irish town to be created. As it was developed initially to aid Local Government in carrying out their town planning functions it includes the highest resolution photo-realistic textures to be found anywhere in Google Earth. Three-dimensional renderings are available for certain buildings and structures around the world via Google's 3D Warehouse and other websites. In June 2012, Google announced that it will start to replace user submitted 3D buildings with auto-generated 3D mesh buildings starting with major cities. Although there are many cities on Google Earth that are fully or partially 3D, more are available in the Earth Gallery. The Earth Gallery is a library of modifications of Google Earth people have made. In the library there are more than just modifications for 3D buildings there are models of earth quakes using the Google Earth model, 3D forests, and much more.
Recently, around 2009, Google added a feature that allows users to monitor traffic speeds at loops located every 200 yards in real-time. In version 4.3 released on April 15, 2008, Google Street View was fully integrated into the program allowing the program to provide an on the street level view in many locations.
On January 31, 2010, the entirety of Google Earth's ocean floor imagery was updated to new images by SIO, NOAA, US Navy, NGA, and GEBCO. The new images have caused smaller islands, such as some atolls in the Maldives, to be rendered invisible despite their shores being completely outlined.
Google Earth is useful for many day-to-day and other purposes.
All of these features are also released by Google Earth Blog.
In December 2006, Google Earth added a new layer called "Geographic Web" that includes integration with Wikipedia and Panoramio. In Wikipedia, entries are scraped for coordinates via the Coord templates. There is also a community-layer from the project Wikipedia-World. More coordinates are used, different types are in the display and different languages are supported than the built-in Wikipedia layer. Google announced on May 30, 2007 that it is acquiring Panoramio. In March 2010, Google removed the "Geographic Web" layer. The "Panoramio" layer became part of the main layers and the "Wikipedia" layer was placed in the "More" layer.
In Google Earth v4.2 a flight simulator was included as a hidden feature. Starting with v4.3 it is no longer hidden. Initially the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the Cirrus SR-22 were the only aircraft available, and they could be used with only a few airports. However, you can start flight in "current location" and need not to be at an airport. You will face the direction you face when you start the flight simulator. You cannot start flight in ground level view and must be near the ground (approximately 50m-100m above the ground ) to start in take-off position. Otherwise you will be in the air with 40% flaps and gears extended (landing position ). In addition to keyboard control, the simulator can be controlled with a mouse or joystick. Google Earth v5.1 and higher crashes when starting flight simulator with Saitek and other joysticks.
The flight simulator can be commanded with the keyboard, mouse or plugged-in joystick. Broadband connection and a high speed computer provides a very realistic experience. The simulator also runs with animation, allowing objects (for example: planes]) to animate while on the simulator. Programming language can also be used to make it look like the cockpit of a plane, or for instrument landing.
Google Sky is a feature that was introduced in Google Earth 4.2 on August 22, 2007, and allows users to view stars and other celestial bodies. It was produced by Google through a partnership with the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, the science operations center for the Hubble Space Telescope. Dr. Alberto Conti and his co-developer Dr. Carol Christian of STScI plan to add the public images from 2007, as well as color images of all of the archived data from Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys. Newly released Hubble pictures will be added to the Google Sky program as soon as they are issued. New features such as multi-wavelength data, positions of major satellites and their orbits as well as educational resources will be provided to the Google Earth community and also through Christian and Conti's website for Sky. Also visible on Sky mode are constellations, stars, galaxies and animations depicting the planets in their orbits. A real-time Google Sky mashup of recent astronomical transients, using the VOEvent protocol, is being provided by the VOEventNet collaboration. Google's Earth maps are being updated each 5 minutes.
Google Sky faces competition from Microsoft WorldWide Telescope (which runs only under the Microsoft Windows operating systems) and from Stellarium, a free open source planetarium that runs under Microsoft Windows, OS X, and Linux.
On March 13, 2008, Google made a web-based version of Google Sky available via the internet.
On April 15, 2008 with version 4.3, Google fully integrated its Street View into Google Earth. In version 6.0, the photo zooming function has been removed because it is incompatible with the new 'seamless' navigation.
Google Street View provides 360° panoramic street-level views and allows users to view parts of selected cities and their surrounding metropolitan areas at ground level. When it was launched on May 25, 2007 for Google Maps, only five cities were included. It has since expanded to more than 40 U.S. cities, and includes the suburbs of many, and in some cases, other nearby cities. Recent updates have now implemented Street View in most of the major cities of Australia and New Zealand as well as parts of Canada, parts of South Africa, Denmark, Mexico, Japan, Norway, Finland, Spain, Sweden, France, the UK, Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, Portugal, Taiwan, and Singapore.
Google Street View, when operated, displays photos that were previously taken by a camera mounted on an automobile, and can be navigated by using the mouse to click on photograph icons displayed on the screen in the user's direction of travel. Using these devices, the photos can be viewed in different sizes, from any direction, and from a variety of angles.
Introduced in version 5.0 (February 2009), the Google Ocean feature allows users to zoom below the surface of the ocean and view the 3D bathymetry beneath the waves. Supporting over 20 content layers, it contains information from leading scientists and oceanographers. On April 14, 2009, Google added underwater terrain data for the Great Lakes. In 2010, Google added underwater terrain data for Lake Baikal.
In June 2011, higher resolution of some deep ocean floor areas increased in focus from 1-kilometer grids to 100 meters thanks to a new synthesis of seafloor topography released through Google Earth. The high resolution features were developed by oceanographers at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory from scientific data collected on research cruises. The sharper focus is available for about 5 percent of the oceans (an area larger than North America). Underwater scenery can be seen of the Hudson Canyon off New York City, the Wini Seamount near Hawaii, and the sharp-edged 10,000-foot-high Mendocino Ridge off the U.S Pacific Coast. There is a Google 2011 Seafloor Tour for those interested in viewing ocean deep terrain.
Introduced in version 5.0, Historical Imagery allows users to traverse back in time and study earlier stages of any place. This feature allows research that require analysis of past records of various places.
Google Earth 5 includes a separate globe of the planet Mars, that can be viewed and analysed for research purposes. The maps are of a much higher resolution than those on the browser version of Google Mars and it also includes 3D renderings of the Martian terrain. There are also some extremely high resolution images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE camera that are of a similar resolution to those of the cities on Earth. Finally, there are many high resolution panoramic images from various Mars landers, such as the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, that can be viewed in a similar way to Google Street View. Interestingly enough, layers on Google Earth (such as World Population Density) can also be applied to Mars. Layers of Mars can also be applied onto Earth. Mars also has a small application found near the face on Mars. It is called Meliza, and features a chat between the user and an automatic robot speaker.
On July 20, 2009, the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, Google introduced the Google Earth version of Google Moon, which allows users to view satellite images of the Moon. It was announced and demonstrated to a group of invited guests by Google along with Buzz Aldrin at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
Liquid Galaxy is a cluster of computers running Google Earth creating an immersive experience. It began as a Google 20% project[clarification needed] by Google engineers. On September 30, 2010, Google made the configuration and schematics for their rigs public, placing code and setup guides on the Liquid Galaxy wiki.
Google Earth can be traced directly back to a small company named Autometric, now a part of Boeing. A team at Autometric, led by Robert Cowling, created a visualization product named Edge Whole Earth. Bob demonstrated Edge to Michael T. Jones. Chris Tanner, and others at SGI in 1996. Several other visualization products using imagery existed at the time, including Performer-based ones, but Michael T. Jones stated emphatically that he had "never thought of the complexities of rendering an entire globe..." The catch phrase "from outer space to in your face" was coined by Autometric President Dan Gordon, and used to explain his concept for personal/local/global range. Edge blazed a trail as well in broadcasting, being used in 1997 on CBS News with Dan Rather, in print for rendering large images draped over terrain for National Geographic, and used for special effects in the feature film Shadow Conspiracy in 1997. In 2000, Edge Viewer was made available through the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency for free.
Gordon was a huge fan of the ‘Earth’ program described in Neal Stephenson's sci-fi classic Snow Crash. Indeed, a Google Earth co-founder claimed that Google Earth was modeled after Snow Crash, while another co-founder said it was inspired by the short science education film Powers of Ten. In fact Google Earth was at least partly inspired by a Silicon Graphics demo called "From Outer Space to in Your Face" which zoomed from space into the Swiss Alps then into the Matterhorn. This launch demo was hosted by an Onyx 3000 with InfiniteReality4 graphics, which supported Clip Mapping and was inspired by the hardware texture paging capability (although it did not use the Clip Mapping) and "Powers of Ten". The first Google Earth implementation called Earth Viewer emerged from Intrinsic Graphics as a demonstration of Chris Tanner's software based implementation of a Clip Mapping texture paging system and was spun off as Keyhole Inc. Earth Viewer was the inevitable ultimate realization of the capabilities of a seamless texture paging system and many of the individuals working on Earth Viewer were Silicon Graphics alumni.
Detailed release notes/history/changelog are made available by Google.
Google Earth is unlikely to operate on older hardware configurations. The most recent system requirements update document these minimum configurations:
The most likely cause of failure is insufficient video RAM: the software is designed to warn the user if their graphics card is not able to support Earth (this often occurs due to insufficient Video RAM or buggy graphics card drivers). The next most likely mode of failure is Internet access speed. Fast broadband Internet (Cable, DSL, T1, etc.) is required.
Minimum system requirements include:
Works on the following distributions:
|This section's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. (December 2012)|
A version for OS X was released on January 10, 2006, and is available for download from the Google Earth website. With a few exceptions noted below, the Mac version appears to be stable and complete, with virtually all the same functionality as the original Windows version.
Screenshots and an actual binary of the Mac version had been leaked to the Internet on December 8, 2005. The leaked version was significantly incomplete. Among other things, neither the Help menu nor its "Display License" feature worked, indicating that this version was intended for Google's internal use only. Google released no statement regarding the leak.
The Mac version runs only under OS X version 10.3 or later. There is no embedded browser, no direct interface to Gmail and no full screen option. As of January 2009 there are a few bugs concerning the menu bar when switching between applications and a few bugs concerning annotation balloons and printing.
Since version 4.1.7076.4558 (released on May 9, 2007) onward OS X users can, among other new features, upgrade to the "Plus" version via an option in the Google Earth menu. Some users reported difficulties with Google Earth crashing in the then current version when zooming in.
Starting with the version 4 beta Google Earth functions under Linux, as a native port using the Qt toolkit. It is proprietary software specifically in order to impose Digital Rights Management; the Free Software Foundation consider the development of a free compatible client for Google Earth to be a High Priority Free Software Project.
Since revision 7.0 there have been reports of users being unable to use Google Earth on Linux because of a bug. This have possibly been resolved in version 184.108.40.20642.
An Android version was released on Monday, February 22, 2010.
A version for the iOS, which runs on the iPhone, iPod Touch and the iPad, was released for free on the App Store on October 27, 2008. It makes use of the multi-touch interface to move on the globe, zoom or rotate the view, and allow to select the current location using the iPhone integrated Assisted GPS. Although it previously did not support any layers apart from Wikipedia and Panoramio, version 6.2 brought KML support to add additional layers. Version 7 introduced 3D modeling of several cities.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (May 2013)|
Discontinued in December 2008, Google Earth Plus was an individual-oriented paid subscription upgrade to Google Earth that provided customers with the following features, most of which are now available in the free Google Earth:
For a $399 annual subscription fee, Google Earth Pro is a business-oriented upgrade to Google Earth that has more features than the Plus version. The Pro version includes add-on software such as:
Originally, these features cost extra in addition to the $399 fee, but more recently[when?] have been included in the package.
The professional version is available for Windows (NT-based versions), Mac OS X 10.4 or later and Linux.
Google Earth Enterprise is a version of Google Earth designed for use by organizations whose businesses could take advantage of the program's capabilities.
The Google Earth Plug-in is currently available for the following web browsers and operating systems:
Microsoft Windows (2000, XP, Vista, and 7)
Apple Mac OS X 10.4 and higher (Intel and PowerPC)
To date the plug-in supports the following layers:
The Google Updater Plugin from Google will keep the Google Earth Plugin (and all other Google plugins) up to date on your browser.
It also supports 'Sky Mode', 'Photo Overlays', and provides much of the same controls and information bar as the full application.
Most land areas are covered in satellite imagery with a resolution of about 15 m per pixel. This base imagery is 30 m multispectral Landsat which is pansharpened with the 15 m [panchromatic] Landsat imagery. However, Google is actively replacing this base imagery with 2.5 m SPOTImage imagery and several higher resolution datasets mentioned below. Some population centers are also covered by aircraft imagery (orthophotography) with several pixels per meter. Oceans are covered at a much lower resolution, as are a number of islands; notably, the Isles of Scilly off southwest United Kingdom were at a resolution of about 500 m or less, although this has since been addressed.
Google has resolved many inaccuracies in the vector mapping since the original public release of the software, without requiring an update to the program itself. An example of this was the absence from Google Earth's map boundaries of the Nunavut territory in Canada, a territory that had been created on April 1, 1999; this mistake was corrected by one of the data updates in early 2006. Recent updates have also increased the coverage of detailed aerial photography, particularly in certain areas of western and central Europe.
The images are not all taken at the same time, but are generally current to within three years. However, with the release of Google Earth 5.0, it has historical images dating back to the 1940s in some spots. Image sets are sometimes not correctly stitched together. Updates to the photographic database can occasionally be noticed when drastic changes take place in the appearance of the landscape, for example Google Earth's incomplete updates of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, or when placemarks appear to shift unexpectedly across the Earth's surface. Though the placemarks have not in fact moved, the imagery is composed and stitched differently. Such an update to London's photography in early 2006 created shifts of 15–20 metres in many areas, noticeable because the resolution is so high.
Place name and road detail vary greatly from place to place. They are most accurate in North America, Europe and Australia, but regular mapping updates are improving coverage elsewhere.
Errors sometimes occur due to the technology used to measure the height of terrain; (Note: The following examples no longer exist in the terrain data now used in Google Earth). For example, tall buildings in Adelaide, Australia, cause one part of the city to be rendered as a small mountain, when it is in fact flat. Also, in Downtown Los Angeles, there is a large hill in the approximate location of Bunker Hill, where many of the skyscrapers are located. The height of the Eiffel Tower creates a similar effect in the rendering of Paris. Also, prior to the release of version 5.0 in February 2009, elevations below sea level were presented as sea level, for example: Salton City, California; Death Valley; and the Dead Sea were all listed as 0 m when Salton City is −38 m, Death Valley −86 m, and the Dead Sea −420 m.
Where no 3 arc second digital elevation data was available, the three dimensional images covering some areas of high relief are less accurate, but most mountain areas are now well mapped. The underlying digital elevation model has been placed 3 arc seconds too far north and up to 3 arc seconds too far west. This means that some steep mountain ridges incorrectly appear to have shadows extending over onto their south facing sides. Some high resolution images have also been misplaced: an example is the image covering Annapurna, which is misplaced by about 12 arc seconds. Elevation data was recently[when?] updated to 10-meter (1/3-arc-second) resolution for much of the United States from the previous 30-meter (1-arc-second) resolution.
In some areas, local government jurisdictions have submitted more finely gridded terrain models through the Map Content Partners program. In March 2010, the County of Marin, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge by San Francisco, California, published a 40 cm gridded terrain surface of 1425 km2 through the program.
The "Measure" function shows that the length of equator is about 40,030.24 km, giving an error of −0.112% compared with the actual value of 40,075.02 km Earth; for the meridional circumference, it shows a length of about 39,963.13 km, also giving an error of −0.112% compared with the actual value of 40,007.86 km.
On December 16, 2007, most of Antarctica was updated to a 15 m resolution using imagery from the Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica (1 m resolution images of some parts of Antarctica were added in June 2007); however, the Arctic polar ice cap is completely absent from the current version of Google Earth, as are waves in the oceans. The geographic North Pole is found hovering over the Arctic Ocean and the tiling system produces artifacts near the poles as the tiles become 'infinitely' small and rounding errors accumulate.
Cloud cover and shadows can make it difficult or impossible to see details in some land areas, including the shadow side of mountains.
Some parts of the world have still not been photographed. Very low resolution photos or false color photos indicate that the area has not been photographed. On Google Earth 6.0 it is easy to see areas that are not photographed by simply clicking the Historical imagery option on.
The software has been criticized by a number of special interest groups, including national officials, as being an invasion of privacy and even posing a threat to national security. The typical argument is that the software provides information about military or other critical installations that could be used by terrorists.
Google Earth has been blocked by Google in Iran and Sudan since 2007 due to US government export restrictions. The program has also been blocked in Morocco since 2006 by Maroc Telecom, a major service provider in the country.
Some citizens may express concerns over aerial information depicting their properties and residences being disseminated freely. As relatively few jurisdictions actually guarantee the individual's right to privacy, as opposed to the state's right to secrecy, this is an evolving point. Perhaps aware of these critiques, for a time, Google had Area 51 (which is highly visible and easy to find) in Nevada as a default placemark when Google Earth is first installed.
As a result of pressure from the United States government, the residence of the Vice President at Number One Observatory Circle was obscured through pixelization in Google Earth and Google Maps in 2006, but has since been lifted. The usefulness of this downgrade is questionable, as high-resolution photos and aerial surveys of the property are readily available on the Internet elsewhere. Capitol Hill used to also be pixelized in this way, but this was lifted. The Royal Stables in The Hague, Netherlands used to be pixelized as well, but was partially lifted. If one zooms in too close to the Stables, it is still pixelized.
Critics have expressed concern over the willingness of Google to cripple their dataset to cater to special interests, believing that intentionally obscuring any land goes against its stated goal of letting the user "point and zoom to any place on the planet that you want to explore".
In the United Kingdom, critics have also argued that Google Earth has led to the vandalism of private property, highlighting the graffiti of a penis being drawn on the roof of a house near Hungerford, on the roof of Yarm School at Stockton on Tees and on the playing fields of a school in Southampton as examples of this.
In Hazleton, Pennsylvania, media attention and critics focused on Google Earth once more because of the defacing of the Hazleton Area Highschool Football field. Grass was removed to create the image of a penis approximately 35 yards long and 20 yards wide.
Recent versions of Google Earth require a software component running in the background that will automatically download and install updates. Several users expressed concerns that there is not an easy way to disable this updater, as it currently runs without the permission of the user.[dubious ]
In June 2012, Google announced to the geo-modeler community that user-made 3D buildings will be replaced by Google auto-generated mesh. This has led to some disappointment among geo-modelers worldwide, who have submitted thousands of models, and some have businesses that rely on user submitted 3D buildings.
Currently, every image created from Google Earth using satellite data provided by Google Earth is a copyrighted map. Any derivative from Google Earth is made from copyrighted data which, under United States Copyright Law, may not be used except under the licenses Google provides. Google allows non-commercial personal use of the images (e.g. on a personal website or blog) as long as copyrights and attributions are preserved. By contrast, images created with NASA's globe software World Wind use The Blue Marble, Landsat or USGS layer, each of which is a terrain layer in the public domain. Works created by an agency of the United States government are public domain at the moment of creation. This means that those images can be freely modified, redistributed and used for commercial purposes.
Google Earth also features many layers as a source for information on businesses and points of interest, as well as showcasing the contents of many communities, such as Wikipedia, Panoramio and YouTube. Google updates with new layers often. Many Google Earth layers, such as Panoramio and Google Earth Community layers, are updated daily with entries from the respective websites.
Contains borders for countries/provinces and shows placemarks for cities and towns.
A collection of business listings provided by many local services.
Shows many of the most relevant pictures uploaded onto Panoramio's website.
Displays available road networks. The colors and signs displayed vary depending on the type of roadway.
Any real world building can be created for Google Earth via a number of avenues:
In 2009, in a unique collaboration between Google and the Museo del Prado in Madrid, the museum selected 14 of its most important paintings to be photographed and displayed at the ultrahigh resolution of 14,000 megapixels inside the 3D version of the Prado in Google Earth and Google Maps.
In June 2012, Google announced that it will be replacing user made 3D buildings with an auto-generated 3D mesh. This will be phased in, starting with the larger cities. The reason given is to have greater uniformity in 3D buildings, and to compete with other platforms already using the technology such as Nokia's HERE maps and Apple's iOS maps. – This has resulted in much disappointment among geo-modelers worldwide who have been contributing thousands of models.
Locations available with the auto-generated 3D mesh:
|France||Avignon, Dijon, Saint-Louis, Grenoble|
|Germany||Speyer, Heidelberg, Munich, Mannheim, Lörrach, Ulm, Weinheim|
|Italy||Cagliari, Rome (including Vatican City)|
|Spain||Burgos, Manresa, Pamplona, San Sebastian, Santander|
|Switzerland||Basel, Berne, Geneva, Lausanne, Zurich, Nyon|
|United States||Albuquerque, Anaheim, Austin, Birmingham, Berkeley, Boston, Charlotte, Denver, Fremont, Hayward, Houston, Little Rock, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Miami, New York, Oakland, Orlando, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Portland, Reno, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, San Rafael, Saint-Louis, Santa Ana, Santa Cruz, Seattle, Spokane, Springfield, Tampa, Tucson, Wichita|
A collection of services spreading global awareness. The layer was provided by Google Earth Outreach.
Layers for Google Sky.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Google Earth|
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