Google earth

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Google Earth is an information program that was originally called EarthViewer 3D, and was created by Keyhole, Inc, a company acquired by Google in 2004. It maps the Earth by the superimposition of images obtained from satellite imagery, aerial photography and GIS 3D globe. It is available under three different licenses: Google Earth, a free version with limited functionality; Google Earth Plus, which included additional features; and Google Earth Pro, which is intended for commercial use. Google Earth displays satellite images of varying resolution of the Earth's surface, allowing users to visually see things like cities and houses looking perpendicularly down or at an oblique angle, with perspective (see also bird's eye view). The degree of resolution available is based somewhat on the points of interest and popularity, but most land (except for some islands) is covered in at least 15 meters of resolution. Melbourne, Victoria; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Cambridge, Cambridgeshire include examples of the highest resolution, at 15 cm (6 inches). Google Earth allows users to search for addresses for some countries, enter coordinates, or simply use the mouse to browse to a location.


Flight Simulator

Since Google Earth v4.2, a flight simulator has been included as a hidden feature. Depending on the system, it can be accessed by pressing Control+Alt+A, Control+A, or Command+Option+A. The flight simulator features an ability to fly to any supported locations of the world. The pilot can choose any location in the world to start a flight and attempt to land a flight.

Sky Mode

Google Sky is a feature that was introduced in Google Earth 4.2 on August 22, 2007, and allows users to view stars and other celestial bodies. As available in Sky mode is the ability to view constellations, galaxies, and animations depicting the planets in orbits. Sky mode was produced by Google through a partnership with the Space Telescope Science Institute which is the center for the Hubble Telescope. As a result, newly produces Hubble photographs will be included in the Google sky program as soon as they are issued. Sky mode, however, faces competition from Microsoft and their WorldWide Telescope application that runs under their Windows operating systems.

Street View

On April 15, 2008 with version 4.3, Google fully integrated its Street View into Google Earth.Google Street View provides 360° panoramic street-level views and allows users to view parts of selected cities and their surrounding metropolitan areas at ground level.


Introduced in version 5.0 (February 2009), the Google Ocean feature allows users to zoom below the surface of the ocean and view the 3D bathymetry beneath the waves. Supporting over 20 content layers, it contains information from leading scientists and oceanographers. On April 14, 2009, Google added underwater terrain data for the Great Lakes.


Google Earth conains a feature similar to MapQuest which allows you to type in two addresses in the boxes provided and receive directions from one point to another. Allong with the directions, you can also view satellite immagery of your route, view total distance, etc.


Google Earth opens with a view of the world from space. Clicking and dragging on the planet will gently spin the globe. The middle scroll wheel or right-click dragging will zoom in and out for close-up views. In some areas the close-ups are detailed enough to make out cars and even people.

If you pass over the upper right-hand corner of the globe, the small compass will turn into the larger navigation control. Click and drag the circle to turn the map. North on the compass will move accordingly. Click on the arrows to move left or right, or use the star in the middle as a joystick to move in any direction. The dial to the right controls zoom levels.


Google Earth 4(beta) is available for Windows 2000/XP, Mac OS 10.3.9 or higher, and Linux. Google Earth was made available in 2008 for the iPhone OS, as a free download from the App Store.


There are three main versions, free, Plus, and Pro. Google Earth Plus is only available for Windows users and adds GPS support as well as enhanced drawing and sketching. Google Earth Pro 4 beta is available for Mac or Windows. It is designed for commercial users. Most users won’t require more than the free version.

Security Concerns

In a 2007 National Geographic article the argument was raised that terrorists could potentially use Google Earth to help gain information on targets of interest. In particular critics argue that Google Earth provides terrorists with detailed mappings of key sites such as government buildings, army bases, and nuclear power plants. On top of these concerns several nations worldwide have requested that Google limit the detail their maps provide.

See Also

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