Links: ISS webcam, ancient cities, georeferenced aid jobs

The past few months have been unexpectedly busy, and as has too often been the case this past year, Ogle Earth has suffered. I now hope to stay put for at least a month, and by way of atonement have collected below all the stories that I had time to catch but not write up during the past few weeks…

Too cool:

  • Webcam from the ISS: This is amazing, and amazingly well implemented. Would love to get these images as an automatically reloading KML network link, though. (Note: Images were live from Oct 12-22; currently they are archived simulation images. More info here.) (From Oct 13)


  • Obscenely huge immersive 180-degree 3D globe viewer: And I mean that in a good way — behold the world’s best Microsoft Virtual Earth viewer:

    That’s an impressive piece of coding with Microsoft Virtual Earth’s API. My sincere hope is that in my lifetime, everyone will be afford one of these in their home:-) (For those in the market today, here’s a HD version of the YouTube video. Thanks Maria! From Oct 19)

  • Burning Man 2008 OSM: Time-exposure of the Burning Man 2008 Open Street Map as it is being created, on YouTube. (From Oct 10)
  • London Street view now: Can’t wait for Google’s Street View of London to hit the web? has London photographed, and linkable. For example, here is the world’s best bookstore. I like how nearby photographed locations are overlaid on the image, and clickable, so you can speed up your search a bit. So far, no uproar by Londoners on privacy grounds, but that is probably because it’s not Google taking the imagery. When Google does come out with their own Street View, they’ll be able to point out that they’re not even first with this, so what’s the big deal?:-) (from Oct 16)
  • Panoramio heatmaps: Alexander Tchaikin explores “territorial photogenicy” (great neologism!) by creating heatmaps of georeferenced Panoramio photos. His project page gets into the nitty programming aspects, but also has some gorgeous screenshots. Here’s Rome (from this KML file)


    It’s still a work in progress, so expect refinements over time. (From Oct 9)

Humanitarian aid and the environment:


  • Ancient Cities database: Daniel DeGroff is building a cool database with linked KML file with the locations of cities founded before 400AD. Plenty there, and very accurate for the ones I checked in Egypt, but you can help add to it. This is yet another step on the way to a truly 4D virtual globe. (Also on Le Technoblog du LAC, which has been bringing some great geospatial content to light recently.)
  • Forbidden City goes 3D: Two years in the making, IBM and the Palace Museum have now released a meticulous virtual reconstruction of Beijing’s forbidden city as a 3D virtual world, accessible via a free client for PC, Mac and Linux. This is the most ambitious use of 3D technology so far that I know of for creating a historically accurate rendition of a real place and populating it with avatars. (Via Shangaiist, From Oct 14)
  • Searching for Genghis Khan’s grave: Sounds like a job for Google Earth. (Also check out Google Earth Blog’s story about the recently discovered Peruvian pyramid, visible on Google Earth.) (Via Yellow Menace, Oct 21)

Satellite imagery:

  • 1 Earth, 1 meter, 1 week: Mark your calendars for the year 2014 for the new holy grail. According to French space agency Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES),

    it will be possible by 2014 to photograph all of the continents in colour at a resolution of 1 metre, every week. How? With a constellation of 13 Earth-orbiting microsatellites at 600 km, imaging everything in their path and downlinking compressed data to processing centres around the world.

    The technology behind this is something called e-CORCE, a network of 13 microsatellites and 50 ground stations, with a estimated cost of EUR 400 mln. (Via, from Oct 22)

  • GeoEye’s first light: The recently launched GeoEye satellite, part-funded by Google, seems to be working fine, if you look at the first image it sent back. There’ll be plenty more where that came from:-) (From Oct 8)
  • DigitalGlobe signs deal with Microsoft: Now that DigitalGlobe’s contract with Google for online display of satellite imagery is no longer exclusive, Microsoft is quick to sign one. That’s a good thing — my main disappointment with Virtual Earth (other than lack of Mac support for its 3D offering) is a scarcity of imagery from remote regions and developing countries. DigitalGlobe has plenty of that. If there is anything I can do to start an arms race as to who gets DigitalGlobe content out to the web first, let me know:-) (From Oct 7)
  • Updated imagery for Google Earth; Google Earth Blog also has this covered, as usual. (From Oct 13)


  • Shooting the messenger: An Iranian blogger discovers that Google Earth is not available for download in Iran due to US-imposed sanctions (as is the case with Cuba, North Korea, Sudan and Syria) but still proceeds to bash Google for it. (Add to this the dual naming of the Persian Gulf/Arabian Gulf in Google Earth to really convince patriotic Iranians that Google is out to get them.)

    Of course, bloggers will be bloggers, but I expected more from an established media outlet like PBS, which also uncritically manages to portray Google, a US company, as having a choice as to whether it obeys US law or not: PBS takes Google to task for now allowing downloads of Google’s Chrome browser in these countries.

    One really good point, however: The “error” messages could be a lot more expository, explaining precisely why the download isn’t available. (From Oct 13)

  • Crisis mapping: “Are citizen journalists playing an increasingly important role in documenting violent conflict and human rights violations?” So asked Patrick Meier. Anecdotal evidence suggests Yes, but Patrick decided to do an empirical study using Kenya’s 2008 election violence. A central analytical tool: Google Earth.

Neogeo tidbits:

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