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Sharp new satellite imagery makes Google Earth way better for stalking

Google Earth

Google Earth and Street View already combine to make the tool for stalking people since the phone book went out of print. With a brand-new set of imagery captured by the Landsat-8 satellite, Google has made the day of satellite imagery nerds and stalkers worldwide.

The new imagery was debuted in a blog post, which explains how Landsat-8 and better image processing have combined to give some spookily pretty satellite images.

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Landsat-8 went into orbit in 2013, and has sensors that are a step above other satellites in NASA’s Landsat program. We’ve been seeing the results for years from NASA releases, but this is the first time comprehensive imagery of the entire globe has been stitched together.

And what imagery! Google has some before-and-after shots prepared, and the contrast is stark. Take these images of New York City: everything is far sharper, showing things like building shadows and baseball fields in Central Park.

In order to assemble one complete cloud-free mosaic of the Earth, Google used its Earth Engine API to sort through imagery. In total, it had to mine data from a petabyte of imagery, representing over 700 trillion individual pixels. Good thing Google has computers big enough to be seen from space to do the work for it.

The new images are already available to the general public — go to the Google Earth app, if you’re still using that, or enable the satellite overlay on Google Maps. Most of all, I’m excited for what the latest version of Google Earth means for satellite image wallpapers.