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Google Earth To Show Ocean Floor 181

f1vlad writes "Google is expected to announce the addition of ocean floor imagery to its Google Earth project, which will complete digital representation of our planet. 'The existing site, to which an estimated 400 million people have had access, already includes three-dimensional representations of large cities around the world and includes images from street-level and aerial photography covering thousands of miles across Britain and elsewhere. The new additions to the website are expected to include views of the ocean, and portions of the seabed. They will also provide detailed environmental data that will enhance information about the effect of climate change on the world's seas and oceans.'"
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Google Earth To Show Ocean Floor

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  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Monday February 02, 2009 @10:03AM (#26693533)
    Anyone want to buy a slightly used underwater marijuana farm?
    • by xch13fx ( 1463819 ) on Monday February 02, 2009 @10:17AM (#26693705)
      is it in international water? Cuz you could make it a point of interest and have boats come take "tours." Just don't let the Somalians find out.
    • by wooferhound ( 546132 ) <> on Monday February 02, 2009 @10:51AM (#26694095) Homepage
      I don't even worry about my land-based marijuana farm in my hometown
      Google hasn't updated the maps around here for 10 years . . .
      • by Tridus ( 79566 ) on Monday February 02, 2009 @10:58AM (#26694179) Homepage

        Yeah it's the same here. They can get the ocean floors in, but can't get anything even resembling a recent image of my area.

        • by Chyeld ( 713439 ) < minus painter> on Monday February 02, 2009 @11:41AM (#26694753)

          Since they just display the most recent imagery that their providers have, the issue isn't with Google but the fact that appearently no one considers your plot of land important enough to actually photograph. If you want an ego boost, find out how much it costs to charter one of the companies providing the aerial photography to do a fly by of your area.

          • by berend botje ( 1401731 ) on Monday February 02, 2009 @12:40PM (#26695563)
            Even better is that the imagery of my part of the world has regressed! Two years ago the data was quite current. Now, however, the data seems about five years old.

            So what's the deal with that?
            • There may be something of national importance near you--the area around the Bangor sub base in Washington was at one time fairly well shown but is now a big patch of blur
            • by hughk ( 248126 )

              There was a discussion on the disappearing Aral Sea on another forum. Someone was trying to use Google Earth to make a point but the imagery seems to be 7-9 years old.

              Where I am currently posting from, in Germany the imagery is also about 7 years old. I seem to remember there is a way of getting the date of the imagery but we recognised an old car that we had then.

              Google imagery is great, but please could they update it from time to time. I know that current satellite imagery is a valuable commodity and wou

          • Of course, Mr. Marijuana farmer might just call up the DEA to see if they have any recent pics. "High value" is a relative term.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by ConanG ( 699649 )
            You make a good point. However, Google Earth now has an option to regress the date of the imagery along a timeline. You click the timeline button, and you can slide it back and forth and see older satellite images along with the date of the photo. My area, although fairly rural, has imagery back to '95 and as recent as '07.
          • by Vortran ( 253538 )

            Uh... I thought Google just launched one or more of their own satellites? Am I mistaken?

            If I am remembering this right and they have their own new satellites, when are we (ever) going to see new/recent imagery? I've been waiting ever since I read (hallucinated?) about Google launching their own satellites. What's up with that, anyway?

            Vortran out

            • by Chyeld ( 713439 ) < minus painter> on Monday February 02, 2009 @04:05PM (#26698589)

              Coincidently enough, your answer was published today.


              Waiting for Profits in Space
              GeoEye Fights Delays With New Imaging Satellite
              Published: 2 February 2009

              Anyone who's used Google Earth has likely seen images from GeoEye, a Dulles, Va., Earth-imaging company. The Internet giant allows users to zoom in from a view of a continent to a car on the street by using images from GeoEye, along with ones from competitor DigitalGlobe, the U.S. Geological Survey and elsewhere.

              GeoEye has used its flagship Ikonos satellite to provide images for Google and the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), its biggest customer. But those customers - and investors - have been waiting for GeoEye-1, the company's newest satellite, to become fully operational.

              GeoEye-1 has faced delays from launch to operation, and as a result, the company has been missing out on revenues under a new NGA contract.

              GeoEye-1, a two-story-tall satellite built by a contractor team led by General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, is the world's highest-resolution commercial Earth-imaging satellite, according to the company. The first image the satellite took was of Kutztown University in Pennsylvania; a tennis player is visible about to serve the ball.

              GeoEye-1's launch, originally planned for the first quarter of 2007, finally took place last Sept. 6. Work went slower than planned, then the launch was bumped to allow Boeing Launch Services to give priority to a U.S. government launch. Once in orbit, the satellite suffered from delays in calibrating its accuracy and testing its software. The process, which normally takes up to three months, has lasted five so far, according to GeoEye spokes-man Mark Brender.

              GeoEye has told investors for several months that the company is nearing the end of this phase. Matt O'Connell, the company's president and chief executive, said the GeoEye-1 satellite should be fully operational at least by the end of the first quarter of 2009, though GeoEye is aiming for sometime this month.

              "We're still in the process of fine-tuning the accuracy," O'Connell said. "You make a change, you do a couple of orbits, you look at the imagery, you test it, you find what you think might be a bug, you do another change. So it's an iterative process, so it takes a while."

              The process now is focusing on aligning the positional accuracy of the satellite with the GPS grid, he said. "We're all disappointed that it hasn't gone faster. But we're excited that we are nearing the end of the tunnel."

              O'Connell said testing that he's seen lately makes him more confident that GeoEye-1 is getting closer to becoming fully operational, as more glitches are eliminated and the satellite is "hitting accuracy levels that are near our target."

              What's hanging in the balance is a new Service Level Agreement with the NGA that would boost GeoEye's revenues. Once GeoEye-1 is operational and the NGA certifies GeoEye-1 images as meeting the agency's standards, NGA will buy $12.5 million in GeoEye-1 images a month under its NextView program. That will give GeoEye a consistent revenue source after somewhat bumpy revenues in recent quarters. Revenues were down 24 percent to $106 million for the first nine months of 2008.

              GeoEye's competitor, DigitalGlobe, won the first contract under the NextView program. Its satellite, WorldView-3, provides black-and-white images to NGA.

              "We're comfortable the GeoEye is on a path that's going to have [GeoEye-1] operational and available for NGA taskings," NGA spokesman Dave Burpee said.

              In the meantime, the NGA and Google keep buying images from Ikonos, which was launched in 1999 by GeoEye's predecessor company, Space Imaging. GeoEye was formed in 2006 when OrbImage, a company O'Connell also headed, bought Space Imaging, a Lockheed Martin-Raytheon joint venture.

          • by Eccles ( 932 )

            Since they just display the most recent imagery that their providers have, the issue isn't with Google

            Except that Microsoft Virtual Earth and (I think) Mapquest have at times had significantly better or newer imagery for the same location. I've actually created KML files where I've taken an image from another mapper and made it an image in the KML because GE was out of date and didn't show the roads or was in lower resolution.

            One can hire planes to take pictures, it's not all satellites. If it was, they w

      • by ZosX ( 517789 )

        You must not live in the United States. Do you have any idea how much they are monitoring communications here?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      I know a certain Olympic swimming who might be in the market.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Hoi Polloi ( 522990 )

      Plus Emilio Largo [] is going to have to move his secret operations.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
        It's really an excellent starter lair. I'm hoping to sell to a young evil genius couple. Though it's not really ready for world domination, it's probably just fine for country-wide domination. And while it's true that I had to turn the shark tank into a grow bed, everything is still wheelchair-accessible and cat-friendly. The laser cannon still works too, but the power bill is a real bitch if you use it.
    • by treeves ( 963993 )
      Is that you, Michael Phelps?
  • Two words. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AltGrendel ( 175092 ) < minus painter> on Monday February 02, 2009 @10:03AM (#26693541) Homepage
    Marianas Trench.
    Can't wait to see how that looks.
  • Whoops (Score:5, Funny)

    by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Monday February 02, 2009 @10:05AM (#26693559) Journal

    I wonder if a few of my "special jobs" as a concrete mixer will show up on these maps. If so, anyone got a list of countries without an extradition treaty with the U.S.?

  • Will we all became virtual Jacques-Yves Cousteaus and explore unknown shipwrecks from the comfort of our home ?
    Or the level of zoom is not that great ?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by furby076 ( 1461805 )
      Well this will only detail the top, and maybe slightly angular, shots of wrecks. This will helpe us find lost wrecks. But as a diver I can tell you this will not replace scuba diving by any see gorgeous coral, fish life, and go inside caves/wrecks is something you can only experience in doesn't begin to capture the feeling...of being dinner for a school of barricuda :D
  • by Vandil X ( 636030 ) on Monday February 02, 2009 @10:13AM (#26693655)
    Perhaps now we'll be able to see those massive floating garbage islands in the Pacific Ocean that we're always hearing about.
  • Does Google have aerial (not satellite) photos like Microsoft? I've never encountered them on Google maps.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      In Google Maps and Google Earth, Massachusetts is all aerial photography, because the state pays for and supplies it under an open content (but perhaps not Open Content) license. If you zoom in on the northeast US, you can see Massachusetts very well defined from a pretty high zoom.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by nmg196 ( 184961 )

      Nearly all the street-level photos on Google Maps are aerial rather than satellite. If you can see windows in houses or road markings, then they are definitely aerial. Publically available satellite imagery is rarely much better than 1m resolution but some of the best govenment operated satellites claim to have resolutions comparable to aerial photos (I've not seen any samples myself though).

      • by nmg196 ( 184961 )

        I think people get confused as Google calls it's button "Satellite" even when aerial photography from planes is being used.

    • by xaxa ( 988988 )

      I doubt you can get this [] level of detail from a publically available satellite image (and there's two more zoom levels after what I linked to!)

      • There's actually 3 levels. And I think I saw me mum.

      • by ZosX ( 517789 )

        Wow! I can see the CCTV cameras on every corner!

      • by hughk ( 248126 )
        Its old stuff though. A certain organisations headquarters at Vauxhall Cross are still under construction (building stuff still outside and no dishes on the roof.
  • by Thanshin ( 1188877 ) on Monday February 02, 2009 @10:18AM (#26693713)

    And now they'll have to adapt the vans that do the street level photography. Some fish are going to be quite surprised.

    Who wouldn't want to spend a month in a van and take several hundred million identical pictures? (Any resemblance with your holidays is pure coincidence).

  • by wisebabo ( 638845 ) on Monday February 02, 2009 @10:20AM (#26693731) Journal

    There are some other sites that not everyone will be pleased will be in the public domain.

    How about the locations of sunken nuclear subs like the Thresher and the Russian sub the Glomar Challenger went after? There are some nuclear warheads still down there!

    Aren't there also a couple of nukes still "lost at sea" but with the approximate locations known?

    Also, how about the plutonium in the Apollo 13 Lunar Module that was impacted in "the deep Pacific"?

    My point is with rent-a-submersible services available (I guess from primarily, you guessed it, Russian vendors) it might be possible to pick up some dangerous things. In addition there are a few ecological sites (some "black smokers") that Oceanographers have been trying to keep secret to preserve them. Other than that, it seems like a great idea!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by furby076 ( 1461805 )
      These objects aren't just lost because they don't know where they are (satellites have been able to bypass the water for object detection for a while now). The problem with retrieving these items is the depth, or danger. So to retrieve these items you need to have advanced submarine technology...and if you have that, you probably have nuclear weapons. But even if you have that, submarines still cannot penetrate the deepest parts of our oceans, and even if they could --- how does a submarine wrap a hook o
      • Huh? Submarines have been able to go to the deepest parts of our oceans for decades. Heck, people dived to the bottom of the Marianas Trench (deepest place on Earth) back in 1960 with a bathyscaphe: Wikipedia article []. Basically, the problem is what you said: grabbing objects isn't that easy, and requires robotic arms. This isn't that hard anymore, since we have lots of deep-sea submersibles with arms, but those are mainly meant for grabbing small objects, not nuclear weapons or other large objects.

    • While there is side scanning sonar data that has resolution sufficient to see rivets on port lids, I imagine most of the bathyscapic data is going to be of much lower resolution. Unless you're looking for Atlantis it will be 'nothing to see here, move along'.
  • by Bearhouse ( 1034238 ) on Monday February 02, 2009 @10:22AM (#26693759)

    "FTA: Although, so far, there has been only limited data collected about the sea floor, with just 10% of the habitat mapped at any useful scale for science..."

    I wonder how is going to work, since I'm guessing they cannot really 'map' the bottom of the ocean in the same way they do surface objects. Satellites with radar, ships with sonar?

    Stil, considering how vast the oceans are, even 10% coverage is pretty impressive.

    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by ciderVisor ( 1318765 )

      Satellites with radar, ships with sonar?

      Noooooo. Sharks with frickin' lasers !

      Mod me redundant - I don't care. Someone had to say it.

  • Gee, I thought you could already see the entire friggin' planet, not just one tiny island.

    Anyway, I'm hoping for much-improved resolutions throughout the globe. Many places certainly don't reach the 50cm resolution that their own spacecraft gives them...

    • by xaxa ( 988988 )

      Gee, I thought you could already see the entire friggin' planet, not just one tiny island.

      The article quoted (and linked to) in the summary is from a British newspaper ;-)
      (And most places in Britain seem to have high-resolution images, but Great Britain is only... erm... 0.14% of the land surface of Earth.)

  • by Sir_Dill ( 218371 ) <.slashdot. .at.> on Monday February 02, 2009 @10:23AM (#26693785) Homepage
    I was perusing Google earth the other day and I noticed that the sea floor was already shown with some coastal areas being VERY detailed.

    check out the northwest coast of the US for a good example.

    I don't know if this is an example of whats to come or if whats to come is going to be even better but I welcome higher resolution imagery of our planet.

  • by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Monday February 02, 2009 @10:26AM (#26693823) Homepage Journal
    In the land version we can see even people and cars. What we will see there? Submarines? Fishes? Coral formations? Our sunken economy?
  • by tjstork ( 137384 ) <> on Monday February 02, 2009 @10:31AM (#26693877) Homepage Journal

    The ocean is so large and so vast, that, if Google codes the images honestly, that, people will readily see that for the most part, the bottom of the ocean is generally unexplored, that measurements of deep waters are infrequent and not in very many areas. They will see a few tiny areas where things have been photographed extensively, but, those will be but small points on a very, very large map. All of this unknown will open up ocean climate claims to ridicule, as if, measuring a drop of water in the shallow end of the swimming pool can somehow categorize the whole thing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Spinalcold ( 955025 )
      That's one of the points, to show people how little we know of the ocean. It could possibly help the science community exchange ideas on the ocean or maybe even fuel more interest into exploring those large expanses.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by tjstork ( 137384 )

        That's one of the points, to show people how little we know of the ocean

        Oh, I agree that it could be that, and I also agree that we should be exploring the bottom of the ocean more, in fact, we ought ought to be monitoring it with a permanent deep sea measuring network.

    • All of this unknown will open up ocean climate claims to ridicule, as if, measuring a drop of water in the shallow end of the swimming pool can somehow categorize the whole thing.

      Bad analogy. That's like saying you don't understand how a swimming pool works because you don't have pictures of the tiles at the bottom of the pool at microscopic levels of details. There is a vast body of knowledge about the oceans - currents, salinity, flows, weather. Of course, there is a huge amount to learn and we really

    • the bottom of the ocean is generally unexplored, that measurements of deep waters are infrequent and not in very many areas

      I guess this depends on your data source. Our submarines have very good maps, and much of the Cold War was spent making them.

  • by sl8r ( 104278 ) on Monday February 02, 2009 @10:37AM (#26693943)

    Finally, the russians will be able to find Red October!

  • Will Google be compelled to blot out the alien bases like they did for Area 51?

  • The terrestrial maps are outdated, I would love to see updated terrestrial maps instead of gazing at the ocean floor.
  • For oceanic ice caps, do we get to see (a) the ice, (2) the floor, or (iv) either one, selectable as with the satellite imagery on the regular Google Maps?
  • As seen on Ogle Earth [], Google Earth 5 is available for download []. Includes the new Ocean layer.

    • Doesn't start up for me (Ubuntu Intrepid).

      Anybody know how to fix this: ./googleearth-bin: relocation error: /usr/lib32/i686/cmov/ symbol BIO_test_flags, version OPENSSL_0.9.8 not defined in file with link time reference

  • I would be more impressed if they updated all of the above water land maps. I live in Belize and our imagery hasn't been updated in about five years. Dave
  • Sigh... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CobaltTiger ( 671182 ) on Monday February 02, 2009 @04:31PM (#26698997)
    Living in Iowa, I'm still waiting for my house not to look like a white blob. Random jungles and deserts already have better resolution than most of our state, and now it sounds like the sea floor will as well. I know Iowa isn't the biggest state out there, but can't we get a little love?
  • This might be useful and more interesting if it shows the *actual* locations of the submerged fiber optic Internet cables that 'mysteriously' keep getting "anchor dragged" in the middle eastern part of our planet...

    Of course, it is just a matter of time before someone puts geographically identified snapshots of a corpses wearing 'concrete shoes' on particular spots the ocean floor...
  • I thought History was the more interesting feature mentioned in the article. You could watch growing suburbs, melting glaciers, grwoing tropical farmlands, etc.
  • Google has unveiled what is touted as being one of the most comprehensive 3D maps of ocean rubbish in a major upgrade to its free Google Earth program.

    For the first time, web surfers can surf amongst some of the estimated 100 million tonnes of plastic and assorted human refuse that has been accumulating in the middle of the North Pacific Gyre since the 1950s - all without getting their hands dirty.

    Demonstrating the far superior beauty available from Web 2.0 applications, in comparison to the grubby ocea

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