Even if you aren’t an Android mobile user, you are probably a Google Maps fan and if you have spent any amount of time admiring what Google has done with this project you have probably also moved on to explore Google’s other global imaging application: Google Earth.
Well, one of the reasons Google Earth is so popular has a lot to do with the fact that Google invests a lot of energy every couple of months into improving its satellite imagery. This time, the Maps update benefited from the addition of almost 700 trillion pixels, as of June 27th.
In a statement, Google said, “Three years ago we introduced a cloud-free mosaic of the world in Google Earth. Today we’re rolling out an even more beautiful and seamless version, with fresh imagery from Landsat 8 satellite and new processing techniques for sharper images than ever before.”
While the new images have been added, the update will hit Android devices (and the Chrome browser, etc) later this week. Once activated, users will be able to view more detailed orbital imagery at a higher contrast than previous versions of both Google Maps and Google Earth.
“Satellite images are often cloudy, but not always over the same place, so we looked at millions of images and took the clearest pixels to stitch together this cloud-free and seamless image,” explains Google Earth Engine Program Manager Chris Herwig in a recent blog post.
Now, though, users accessing global imaging will be able to more closely examine cities, forests, and the oceans of planet Earth with more clarity than ever before. Furthermore, the new map has fewer clouds than before, meaning far less view obscurity.
Herwig continues, “Like our previous mosaic, we mined data from nearly a petabyte of Landsat imagery—that’s more than 700 trillion individual pixels—to choose the best cloud-free pixels.”
To put this in words that everyone can understand, there are now 7,000 times more pixels than the number of stars estimated to be in the Milky Way; another way to look at is that this is 70 times more pixels than the total number of predicted galaxies in our universe.
If you want to see what the update looks like, of course, just open Google Maps or Google Earth on your mobile device or PC.