Google Earth is a free virtual globe formerly known as Earth Viewer. It was developed by Keyhole, Inc., which was acquired by Google in 2004. The product was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and is currently available for use on personal computers running Mac OS X Tiger and Microsoft Windows 2000 or XP. A Linux version has been announced for 2006.
Google Earth overlays satellite imagery, aerial photography and GIS information over a 3D model of the Earth (3D building models are currently only available for cities in the USA). In the USA the software has recently been used by CNN for graphics on the large screens in The Situation Room . In Canada, the software has been used by Global National for graphics pertaining to locations of news stories.
Google Earth is a 3D graphics application enabling the viewing of aerial photography and satellite images to show views of the Earth from above in great detail. Google has taken the features of Google Maps and merged it with the capabilities of Keyhole, an application built by a company acquired by Google in 2004. Google Earth enables the user to not only view these images, but also to view many layers of data provided by Google and by the Internet community at large. Such things as parks, rivers, roads, borders of countries, locations of national monuments and many thousands of other places can be seen.
Google Earth allows users to search for addresses (for the USA, Canada, and UK only), enter coordinates, or simply use the mouse to browse to a location. Many large cities are available in high enough resolution to see individual buildings, houses, and even cars. The degree of resolution available is based somewhat on the points of interest, but most places are available at at least 15 meters of resolution.
Google Earth also has 3D terrain data courtesy of data collected by NASA’s space shuttle and available in the public domain. This means one can view the Grand Canyon or Mount Everest in 3D, instead of 2D like other map progams/sites. In addition, Google has provided a layer allowing one to see 3D buildings for some of the major cities in the US. See Google Earth#3D Buildings for more info.
Many people using the applications are adding their own data and making them available through various sources such as the BBS or blogs mentioned in the link section below.
Google Earth is available in a free version, and in licensed versions for commercial use. It is currently officially available on Windows XP and Mac OS X . A Linux version was expected by some before the end of 2005 but has not yet been seen. A leaked version of working non-public beta of Google Earth for Mac OS X started to appear on the internet on December 08, 2005.
When started up, Google Earth’s view is centered on Lawrence, Kansas. The director of engineering for Google Earth is Brian McClendon, whose online biography says he is a 1986 graduate of the University of Kansas.
See also KML (Keyhole Markup Language).
Download Google Earth