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Google Earth is a virtual 3D rendition of Earth. The images were based from aerial photography, GIS data and satellite images, while superimposing all of them into a coherent virtual globe. This allows users to navigate across cities and landscapes. They are also provided with different viewing angles so that they can have full immersion.
Google Earth is a freeware available for various platforms. Even the business version Google Earth Pro was made free in 2015 along with the add-on tools. The subscription version Google Earth Plus was discontinued in 2008 where its features like GPS and KML or KMZ file generator were eventually released for public use.
The images captured in Google Earth are not real-time contrary to popular belief. They are instead updated frequently from image providers and platforms like aerial photography, GIS data and satellite images. This ensures that the virtual globe is as updated as possible since none of them have 24/7 access to global-scale videos.
The accuracy of Google Earth varies. The software is meant for entertainment purposes and not for matters involving accurate measurement like navigation. Each imagery ranges from sub-meter resolution to 15-meter resolution. It also has 1 KM global base resolution. The constant taking of images with different resolutions and formats negates the specific resolution for any location geographically.
Google Earth features distance measurement. Under the Tools section from the menu is the “Ruler” window. Select the location or tab to be measured, pick Mouse Navigation, mark a starting point and end point. The Ruler window will display the measurement and it can be saved and name. It is exported under the “places” window, and can be edited via "New Path" and "Edit Path" window. The elevation of an area can be measured as well.
Google Earth utilizes World Geodetic System 1984 or WGS84. WGS84 is geodetic system and terrestrial reference system that is both Earth-centered and Earth-fixed. It is based on a consistent data collection that describe the Earth’s physical characteristics. Google Earth is also based from the Mercator projection found on spherical objects.
Google Earth can do time lapse even if it only displays the very current image. Users simply pick a location, open View and Historical Imagery for the standard view, or the Time icon for the 3D view. It will show what changes have occurred on the target place, depending on how many data sets users have selected.
Google Earth includes a Flight Simulator with the head-up display or HUD of a virtual airplane. It is accessible from the Tools windows. Users can select a real-life location and runway to start with. There are 2 virtual airplanes to ride: the SR22 for beginners and the F-16 for advanced users.
Google has partnered with NASA in 2017 for this feature. Users can see every planet and satellite inside the Solar System. They can inspect the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. The images of the planets and satellites come from the International Space Station. The Moon and Mars meanwhile utilizes everything that the rovers have taken on the solid surface.
The Liquid Galaxy is Google’s open source project in 2008. It utilizes the Google Earth for a panoramic multi-display. Some of the technologies incorporated are GIS data projection, as well as images from various sources The project further developed into data visualization tool for various fields. "It is also free of use and used for marketing, operations, and research."
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