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Google Maps And Earth Just Got A Huge Boost: New, More Detailed And Higher Contrast Images

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With more than a billion users, Google Maps is possibly one of the most popular virtual atlases around. The Google Earth tool is handy for discovering the world from above.

Every couple of months, Google invests its energy on improving its satellite imagery tools. This is done in a bid to enhance and offer an enriching experience to the service's users.

On June 27, Maps benefited from an update as Google added nearly 700 trillion pixels to the popular service.

"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," says Google.

Thanks to the new update, which will be activated this week, users will be able to see more detailed and improved orbital imagery that has higher contrast compared to the older version of Google Maps and Google Earth.

When exploring the planet on the satellite maps, users will be able to examine cities, fields, forests and seas with more clarity, as the new map has lesser clouds compared to the earlier versions. It's also the only second instance of Google revealing a map that is "cloudless."

So now, Google Earth tool users will get more detailed and sharper images of the planet thanks to Landsat 8, the new satellite that has better cameras compared to its predecessor Landsat 7. Landsat 8 will also enable Google to click double the number of images compared to Landsat 7.

The new techniques for processing the images will ensure that the pictures have more clarity and have a higher resolution.

How did Google go about bringing clearer images users' way? Google deployed the publicly available Earth Engine API to sift through nearly a petabyte worth of Landsat images and eke out satellite images that were cloud free.

"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," says Google.

It then used the new processing techniques to bring images that were as sharp as possible with truer colors. This resulted in the "freshest global mosaic to date."

To give you a clearer idea of the difference, check out a comparison of the Landsat 7 (above) and Landsat 8 (below) images.

However, not all the images shown by Google Maps and Google Earth have been captured by the new Landsat 8 satellite. The older images from Landsat 7 will get slowly replaced when the new satellite images from Landsat 8 become available.

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