Google has announced through its maps blog that Google Maps and Earth now use newer technology which is essentially based upon their no-cloud mosaic idea. Besides the use of a newer, better satellite, Landsat 8 and more advanced processing techniques will allow for sharper, more detailed imagery, the company has said.
Satellite images often are cloudy, for obvious reasons. But the clouds do tend to clear up naturally over time and change places with the wind. Keeping this in mind, Google has decided to take millions of images (yes, millions) and stitched the clearest pixels to create a seamless, clear and cloud-free image.
The addition of their newer satellite, Landsat 8 has given Google even more to work with as “Landsat 8 captures images with greater detail, truer colors, and at an unprecedented frequency—capturing twice as many images as Landsat 7 does every day.” Landsat 8 was launched into orbit in 2013. So the images it will capture will create the newest global mosaic with meticulous precision and detail. Landsat 8 has the newest sensor in the USGS/NASA Landsat Program.
Landsat 7 images were captured in 2003 and although they are still commendable for their quality, a hardware failure caused large gaps of missing diagonal data in the maps which created the need for newer imagery. “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 that in perspective, 700 trillion pixels is 7,000 times more pixels than the estimated number of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, or 70 times more pixels than the estimated number of galaxies in the Universe.”