Tag Archives: Google Earth

Welcome to Outer Space View

Editor’s note:  Starting today, you can now explore the International Space Station in Street View in Google Maps. Thomas Pesquet, Astronaut at the European Space Agency (ESA), spent six months aboard the International Space Station (ISS) as a flight engineer. He returned to Earth in June 2017, and in this post he tells us about what it’s like to live on the ISS and his experience capturing Street View imagery in zero gravity.  

In the six months that I spent on the International Space Station, it was difficult to find the words or take a picture that accurately describes the feeling of being in space. Working with Google on my latest mission, I captured Street View imagery to show what the ISS looks like from the inside, and share what it’s like to look down on Earth from outer space.

For 16 years, astronauts have been working and living on the ISS, a structure made up of 15 connected modules that floats 250 miles above Earth. The ISS acts as a base for space exploration—possible future missions to the Moon,Mars and asteroids—and gives us a unique perspective on Earth itself. We can collect data on the Earth’s oceans, atmosphere, and land surface. We can conduct experiments and studies that we wouldn’t be able to do from Earth, like monitoring how the human body reacts to microgravity, solving mysteries of the immune system, studying  cyclones in order to alert populations and governments when a storm is approaching, or monitoring marine litter—the rapidly increasing amount of waste found in our oceans.

There were a few “firsts” on my mission. It was led by Peggy Whitson who, at age 56, became the oldest woman to fly into space and the first woman in history to command two expeditions. The mission was the first time Street View imagery was captured beyond planet Earth, and the first time annotations—helpful little notes that pop up as you explore the ISS—have been added to the imagery. They provide additional information or fun facts like where we work out to stay physically fit, what kind of food we eat, and where we conduct scientific experiments.

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Node 1 (Unity) Peggy Whitson and friends dining at the galley table - big enough for six astronauts.

Because of the particular constraints of living and working in space, it wasn't possible to collect Street View using Google's usual methods. Instead, the Street View team worked with NASA at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas and Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama to design a gravity-free method of collecting the imagery using DSLR cameras and equipment already on the ISS. Then I collected still photos in space, that were sent down to Earth where they were stitched together to create panoramic 360 degree imagery of the ISS.

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Node 2 (Harmony) Crew Quarters - Astronaut Sandra Magnus, Expedition 18 flight engineer, poses for a photo in her crew compartment.

We did a lot of troubleshooting before collecting the final imagery that you see today in Street View. The ISS has technical equipment on all surfaces, with lots of cables and a complicated layout with modules shooting off in all directions—left, right, up, down. And it’s a busy place, with six crew members carrying out research and maintenance activities 12 hours a day. There are a lot of obstacles up there, and we had limited time to capture the imagery, so we had to be confident that our approach would work. Oh, and there’s that whole zero gravity thing.

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Joint Airlock (Quest) - This area contains space suits also known as Extravehicular Mobility Units.  They provide crew members with life support that enables extravehicular activity.

None of this would have been possible without the work of the team on the ground, my colleagues (turned roommates) on the ISS, and the countries that came together to send us up to space. Looking at Earth from above made me think about my own world a little differently, and I hope that the ISS on Street View changes your view of the world too.

Click here to go behind the scenes with Thomas and the team.

Source: Google LatLong


Chasing Coral on Google Earth

Editor’s Note: Richard Vevers, Founder and CEO at the Ocean Agency, talks about his quest to protect our oceans and the underwater journey with Street View that led to “Chasing Coral,” a new Netflix documentary.

I am floating above a graveyard, millions of tiny skeletons below me. I am stunned, I am silent. I am witnessing a tragedy in progress. My camera clicks and whirrs, capturing a 360-degree picture of the devastation.

The graveyard was once a thriving coral reef, one of our planet’s most gorgeous and awe-inspiring marvels and home to thousands of species. Colorful corals growing in all shapes and sizes, clownfish peeking out of every anemone. Up above, manta rays and turtles swam in lazy circles, scattering the great glittering schools of tiny blue fish.

What happened? 

That’s the question “Chasing Coral” seeks to answer. The film, a Netflix original documentary released today, follows my crew of divers, photographers, and scientists on our quest to reveal what is killing our oceans … and how we can stop it.

“Chasing Coral” was born from a simple idea: If we could give people a personal, up-close look at how their oceans are being destroyed, they would want to protect them. For the past five years, we’ve been working with Google to make this happen. We created Underwater Street View, which lets people take virtual dives in some of the world’s most beautiful coral reefs. Now with Google Earth, you can splash around in the sparkling waters of a coral reef without even leaving the house.

From there, we set out to show people the great beauty of our coral reefs, as well as the terrible danger that threatens their existence. By collecting Underwater Street View, we found undeniable proof of climate change destruction in the ocean. Documented so spectacularly by Jeff Orlowski in “Chasing Coral,” the warning signs are unmistakable. The countdown has already begun.

Fortunately, it’s not all bad news. Some coral reefs are less vulnerable to the rising water temperatures that have already killed so many others. This year we started the 50 Reefs to find these resilient reefs—the ones that with the greatest capacity to repopulate other reefs—so that we can bolster our efforts to protect the corals that still remain. In October we’ll announce a list of the reefs that could be pivotal for the future of the ocean, a list that can catalyze global action.

The release of “Chasing Coral” and the launch of 50 Reefs share two critical ideas: what happens to coral reefs affects every single person on Earth (even if they’re thousands of miles from the nearest coast); and, if we want to save the reefs, we need everyone to pitch in now.

There’s already been an outpouring of support for our work from philanthropic foundations like Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Tiffany & Co. Foundation, and Paul G. Allen Philanthropies. With their help, we’ve been able to launch an initiative that could make all the difference. We’ve got a lot of work yet to do, but we’re off to a promising start.

Now that “Chasing Coral” is free to stream on Netflix, I hope that you’ll watch it. I hope that you’ll feel the same wonder that I felt as a child when I slipped beneath the waves for the first time and found myself in an underwater paradise of beauty and color. I hope the film will both sadden and strengthen you. I hope you will spread the word.

Most of all, though, I hope you join the fight to save coral reefs. Please follow our story on Google Earth and support us at 50Reefs.org.

I Am Amazon: Discover your connection to the rainforest with Google Earth

For many people around the world, the Amazon is a mysterious faraway land of impenetrable jungles, majestic rivers and indigenous peoples. But what many of us may not realize is that we all have a connection to the Amazon—through the air we breathe, the water that irrigates the food we eat, the natural ingredients in the medicines we use, or the shifting weather patterns that we experience around the globe.

Today we invite you to venture into the heart of the Amazon and discover your connection to the world's largest rainforest through Voyager, Google Earth's storytelling platform. You’ll find 11 new interactive stories about different parts of the vast Brazilian Amazon region, which is home to about 27 million people and a wide array of cultures.

All of these stories are told by the diverse peoples who call the forest home, and some were produced by one of Brazil's greatest storytellers, the acclaimed film director Fernando Meirelles. Combined, they create an immersive web and mobile experience told through video, mapping, audio and 360° virtual reality, covering a broad range of issues facing the future of the rainforest—and, consequently, the planet.

These stories reflect the complexity of the Amazon, which produces 20 percent of the Earth's oxygen and is home to one in 10 of the world's animal species. Learn about the supply chain behind the vast array of forest delicacies, like Brazil nuts and açaí, that end up on supermarket shelves worldwide; or about local economies once dependent on illegal logging that are now reorganized around sustainability efforts; or about Quilombolas, communities of descendants of enslaved peoples, and their struggle to obtain titles for their lands.

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View "I Am Amazon" in Google Earth

Thanks to our partnership with the Instituto Socioambiental, we're also publishing in Google Earth Voyager for the first time a comprehensive atlas of indigenous lands in Brazil and the people who live there. And we're filling in those maps with in-depth interactive stories told by the Amazon communities themselves.

You can learn about indigenous peoples like the Tembé and the Paiter Suruí, who are using monitoring technologies to protect their territories from illegal incursions by outsiders and deforestation; or the Yawanawá, a tribe that under the leadership of women has revived its cultural heritage and carved out a place in the global cosmetics industry by sustainably harvesting urucum, a reddish seed used in lipstick and other products.

These stories are the culmination of 10 years of work with the peoples of the Amazon. Back in 2007, Paiter Suruí leader Chief Almir came across Google Earth and quickly saw its potential to help safeguard the heritage and traditions of his people. So he proposed a partnership with Google that resulted in an online map of Suruí cultural heritage, the first ever indigenous community-led deforestation and forest carbon mapping project. Through this project, the Suruí calculated the value of their forest on the voluntary carbon marketplace, and became the first indigenous community to receive funds for preserving their lands.

Technology is an important tool that is helping us to protect the forest and keep our traditions alive. Ubiratan Suruí Suruí Indigenous People's Association

Over the years, we've built on this work with the Suruí and expanded it to an additional 30 communities in the Amazon, with more to come. We also recently integrated certified Brazilian indigenous territories into Google Maps, all 472 of them.

Since its creation more than a decade ago, Google Earth has always aimed to bring the magic of our planet to everyone in a beautiful, accessible and enriching way. We hope these fascinating stories from the Amazon do all of that and more, inspiring curious minds to explore, learn and care about our vast, fragile planet.

Source: Google LatLong


Google Earth Live: Explore.org invites you to hang out with Alaskan Brown Bears

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Watch bears at Brooks Falls LIVE in Google Earth.

Spring comes quickly to Alaska. The snowpack melts, rivers swell with crisp water, delicate blue forget-me-nots bloom near the water’s edge, and brown bears emerge from a six or seven  month hibernation in the Katmai National Park. On their annual migration from the ocean to their spawning grounds, sockeye salmon rush up the Brooks River until they meet the falls. Waiting for them there are the bears, who eagerly paw the air, striking for some fresh protein as they jump out of the water.


Beginning today, we’re bringing live content to Google Earth’s storytelling platform, Voyager. In a story by Explore.org you can journey into Katmai National Park — watch the hungry bears dine out at Brooks Falls or salmon darting towards the underwater livecam.
Explore

Hear a personal perspective from the founder of Explore.org, Charles Annenberg, in which he shares his motivations for putting the Explore.org livecam network together, including the Katmai bear livecams.

Ready, Set, Explore!

Creating maps that reflect indigenous geography

Brazil has one of the world’s most diverse populations, with more than 500,000 indigenous people living on 472 territories certified by the government—representing 13 percent of Brazil’s total land. Most of these territories are in the rapidly-changing Amazon region, the largest and most biodiverse tract of tropical rainforest in the world. Deforestation has had a devastating effect on indigenous people and the local economy, destroying biodiversity, and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.

Indigenous communities play an important role in preserving the natural biodiversity and cultural richness of the Brazilian Amazon by sustainably managing their lands in a smanner sensitive to the delicate ecosystem.

That brings us to Google Maps. Integrating indigenous territories into our maps, like we announced earlier this month for Canada, is an essential step in accurately reflecting the world.  Now, through a partnership with FUNAI (Fundação Nacional do Índio), Brazil’s governmental agency overseeing indigenous affairs, Google Maps and Earth represent Brazilian indigenous territory labels and borders in a way that reflects the landscapes that local communities know so well.

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In Google Earth Timelapse you can observe the rapid rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. Indigenous territories (yellow) largely remain "islands" of healthy, green rainforest, as the surrounding unprotected areas are becoming almost completely clear-cut and barren.
By defining Brazil's indigenous territories we can show the world the role these communities play in maintaining global socio-biodiversity. Artur Nobre Presidential Advisor, FUNAI

On Google Maps and Earth, you can now see the names of certified indigenous territories in Brazil, search for indigenous territories using the name of the ethnic group living there and see how forests are maintained in these areas compared to other parts of the Amazon.

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Search for indigenous territories in Brazil using the territory name or name of the ethnic group living there.

The Suruí people, living on the Sete do Setembre territory, are a notable example of how mapping indigenous territories can help prevent deforestation and preserve culture. Tribal leader Chief Almir first came across Google Earth in 2007, and immediately grasped its potential for conserving the heritage and traditions of his people. He proposed a partnership with Google to create an online map of Surui cultural heritage, as well as a new system to monitor illegal logging and carbon stock using Android smartphones. This was the first ever indigenous community-led deforestation and forest degradation mapping project. Through this project, the Surui calculated the value of their forest on the voluntary carbon marketplace— and became the first indigenous community to receive funds for preserving their forests.  

With indigenous lands labeled on Google Maps, the world can learn more about the forest and history of each indigenous community, and recognize the ro Almir Surui Chief
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This update builds on other work by Google Earth Outreach to support cultural preservation and land management. Thanks to the Surui people and others around the globe, we look forward to continue to improve the digital reflection of indigenous lands on Google Maps and Google Earth.

Google Earth, class is now in session

So much of what students learn in the classroom—from social studies to history, science and literature—relates to a geographic place on Earth. Recently, we announced a new version of Google Earth, and since then, educators have been telling us what a valuable tool Google Earth is for their students. They use the “I’m feeling lucky” feature to inspire writing exercises, do research exercises with Knowledge Cards, and explore satellite imagery and cloud strata with their students. Now, to make it even easier for teachers to use Google Earth in the classroom, we’ve created a new “Education” category in the Voyager section, which includes new stories—complete with classroom activities—from National Geographic Society, PBS Education, HHMI Biointeractive and Mission Blue.

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Just click the new "Education" category on the Voyager homepage for new stories, complete with classroom activities for teachers

The National Geographic Society stories take students on adventures following explorers through the Middle East, India, and coral reefs. To supplement the experience, National Geographic Society created idea for activities that highlight a range of geographical concepts, such as interpreting land forms and comparing map projections.

With PBS Education, classrooms can go back in time and track the paths of famous explorers, from Lewis and Clark to the Vikings. As students follow along, they, in turn, become modern-day explorers.

HHMI Biointeractive and Mission Blue created Voyager stories more geared towards science and math. With HHMI Biointeractive, students join “Scientists at Work” as they investigate important problems, from endangered coral reefs to the Ebola outbreak. And Mission Blue’s story teaches students about the unique oceanographic conditions of Costa Rica thermal dome. Short videos and questions embedded in the stories will help guide students with their own scientific research.

Educators everywhere can find classroom activities (created by teachers, for teachers) at our new Google Earth Education website, and easily share locations and stories directly to Google Classroom. In addition, this week Google Earth will become an Additional Service for Google for Education users, which can be managed by IT administrators through the Google Admin console.

Google Earth was built to inspire curious minds to explore, learn and care about our vast, fragile planet. With these updates, we’re excited to make it easier for the next generation to see the world from a new perspective.

Source: Education


Harry Potter casts his spell on Google Earth

Twenty years ago today, Harry Potter began his journey from a closet on Privet Drive to the castle at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and—Alohomora!—he unlocked the imaginations of Muggles everywhere.

Conjured up by author J.K. Rowling, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone" (called "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone" in the U.S.) has sold more than 450 million copies in 79 languages since its initial publication on June 26, 1997. The worldwide pop-culture phenomenon grew to include six more Harry Potter books, a few literary spinoffs, a movie franchise, and a hit two-part play.

To celebrate this anniversary, Google Earth’s storytelling platform, Voyager, takes you on a global tour (no portkey needed) of real-world places inspired from and by the Harry Potter universe. As fans might expect, the journey begins at Platform 9 ¾ at London’s King’s Cross. Other stops include the London market that stands in for Diagon Alley in the films, the Edinburgh cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote, and the Orlando amusement park where Muggles can buy a wand, ride a Hippogriff and drink some butterbeer.

Grab your broomstick and take flight with Google Earth’s Voyager.

Updates from ISTE: new tools to empower our future explorers and digital citizens

Editor's note: This week our Google for Education team will be joining thousands of educators at the annual ISTE conference in San Antonio. Follow along here and on Twitter for the latest news and updates.

Technology is transforming how students learn and the skills they need to succeed.


Today at the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference, we’ll be highlighting new tools and programs built to empower students to explore, build and think critically as active learners. Look out for a deeper dive on each of these announcements on the blog throughout this week.

Students as inventors and explorers

  • Recently we announced a new browser-based version of Google Earth that makes it easier than ever for teachers to bring the world into the classroom using Chromebooks. Today we are excited to introduce 10 new stories in Google Earth Voyager, our new storytelling platform, built specifically for the classroom. We collaborated with National Geographic Society, PBS Education, HHMI Biointeractive and Mission Blue to create beautiful, curated Voyager stories which offer students a new perspective on the world. We’re also unveiling new classroom activities for teachers to get started today. This week, Google Earth will become an additional service for Google for Education users, which can be managed by IT administrators through the Google Admin panel.

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Google Earth knowledge card of the Alamo, not far from the ISTE 2017 conference!


  • We’re always looking to highlight great educational content on Chromebooks that can be seamlessly integrated into the classroom, while also fostering skills of the future. Today we’re announcing a collection of STEM tools for Chromebooks -- Dremel 3D40 3D Printer and littleBits Code Kit -- that schools can purchase at a bundle discount from their Chromebook reseller. These tools bring engineering into the classroom and help students become inventors.


  • Coming soon, the Expeditions app for Cardboard and Daydream will offer a self-guided mode so anyone can access more than 600 virtual field trips on their own. Students and teachers will be able to pick an adventure to anywhere—from the Great Barrier Reef to the Great Wall of China—and see details on points of interest highlighted on cards. We hope that this encourages exploration and personal education, making it easy to learn using virtual reality.

Students as critical thinkers and responsible digital citizens

  • In addition to the bundle of STEM tools announced above, we are offering a discounted bundle of media literacy apps on Chromebooks, Scrible and eSpark Frontier. The tools are designed to support students as they research and write using contemporary online information and help students form opinions about the media they consume.


[edu] Be Internet Awesome - Animation.gif

Impact Portraits paint a picture of school success with Chromebooks and G Suite

Today, we’re sharing seven new Impact Portraits from school districts across the U.S. The districts range in size and demographics from Florida’s Brevard County, which covers a diverse coastal area with 73,000 students, to upstate New York’s Amherst Central, with 2,944 students.


One thing these schools have in common: they're using Chromebooks and G Suite to drive measurable improvements in everything from reading skills to AP diploma graduation rates. In the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township, for example, Indiana’s measure of third grade reading skills has grown by 10% since adopting Chromebooks. Check out g.co/EduImpact to find all of the Impact Portraits, and stay tuned for a closer look at the collection later this week.


The school districts whose Impact Portraits we’re sharing today include:

Look out for a deeper dive on each of these updates on our Keyword blog throughout this week. If you’re at ISTE in San Antonio, visit us at booth #1718 in the expo hall. And check out our teaching theater sessions—taking place in room #214D—where educators and Googlers will be giving short presentations throughout the conference.

Source: Education


Using machine learning to help people make smart decisions about solar energy

 A few years ago, when my family was first deciding whether or not to go solar, I remember driving around the neighborhood, looking at all the solar arrays on nearby rooftops. It made me realize: Wow, solar isn’t some futuristic concept, it’s already part of the fabric of my town! Seeing that others around me were already benefiting from solar helped me decide to do the same.

We want to make it easy for people to make informed decisions about whether to invest in solar. Project Sunroof already shows you solar potential and cost saving for more than 60 million individual homes. Today we’re adding a new feature, Project Sunroof Data Explorer, which shows a map of existing solar installations in neighborhoods throughout the United States. Now instead of driving street to street, it’s a little easier to see if houses around you and communities nearby have already gone solar.  
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Click on “existing arrays” in the upper right corner to see number of existing installations in your region

This feature combines machine learning with imagery from Google Maps and Google Earth to provide an estimate of how many houses in an area have solar. We started by taking in high-resolution imagery of rooftops and manually identifying solar installations. We then used that data as the initial training set for our algorithm. After many iterations, our machine learning algorithms can now automatically find and identify installations in the imagery (both photovoltaic panels, which produce electricity, and solar hot water heaters). Even for machines, practice makes perfect!

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So far we’ve identified around 700,000 installations in the U.S. and over time, as we continue to train the algorithms and apply improvements, we will be able to find and show more installations. We hope that this new feature will provide policy makers, communities and individuals with more information to help make smarter decisions in their transition to cleaner power sources.

Source: Google LatLong


Using machine learning to help people make smart decisions about solar energy

 A few years ago, when my family was first deciding whether or not to go solar, I remember driving around the neighborhood, looking at all the solar arrays on nearby rooftops. It made me realize: Wow, solar isn’t some futuristic concept, it’s already part of the fabric of my town! Seeing that others around me were already benefiting from solar helped me decide to do the same.

We want to make it easy for people to make informed decisions about whether to invest in solar. Project Sunroof already shows you solar potential and cost saving for more than 60 million individual homes. Today we’re adding a new feature, Project Sunroof Data Explorer, which shows a map of existing solar installations in neighborhoods throughout the United States. Now instead of driving street to street, it’s a little easier to see if houses around you and communities nearby have already gone solar.  
one
Click on “existing arrays” in the upper right corner to see number of existing installations in your region

This feature combines machine learning with imagery from Google Maps and Google Earth to provide an estimate of how many houses in an area have solar. We started by taking in high-resolution imagery of rooftops and manually identifying solar installations. We then used that data as the initial training set for our algorithm. After many iterations, our machine learning algorithms can now automatically find and identify installations in the imagery (both photovoltaic panels, which produce electricity, and solar hot water heaters). Even for machines, practice makes perfect!

2

So far we’ve identified around 700,000 installations in the U.S. and over time, as we continue to train the algorithms and apply improvements, we will be able to find and show more installations. We hope that this new feature will provide policy makers, communities and individuals with more information to help make smarter decisions in their transition to cleaner power sources.