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Have you ever wondered how you can see your house from space... for free? What are the satellites taking those pictures of Earth anyway? Are these pictures live? Can you walk outside, look up and see yourself on camera... from space?
Universe Today publisher Fraser Cain details the resources out there you can use to watch your house from above.
Based on this article from Universe Today:
The space age has given us GPS, weather satellites, and astronauts walking on the Moon.
One of my favorite benefits is the fact that we can now see satellite pictures of Earth, for any spot on the planet... for free!
Space exploration plus the internet is a wonderful thing.
There are more than eight-thousand active satellites in space, and many of those have high-powered cameras attached to big telescopes trained on the surface of the Earth.
Head outside any night and you can see these satellites as bright stars passing overhead.
Some are military satellites, taking high resolution images of top secret locations.
But many are scientific and commercial satellites, whose imagery is available free on the internet, if you know where to look.
Want to see satellite images of the whole Earth?
NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (or GOES) release images of entire hemispheres of Earth every three hours.
You can see entire weather systems affecting the planet, and get a good idea if it’s going to rain this weekend.
If you want more detail, use a tool like Google Earth or Google Maps to see satellite imagery of almost any spot on Earth.
In some places, like cities, the resolution is very high, allowing you to see objects as small as people and cars.
The images you see in Google Maps actually come from commercial satellite mapping companies, like GeoEye or Digital Globe.
They have satellites capable of resolving objects on the surface of the planet as small as forty-five centimeters.
An object like a garbage can, seen from above, would be a single pixel.
You might wonder then, are these live views?
Can you go outside, look up and see yourself in satellite imagery?
Sadly no, it’s not live.
Each company only has a few satellites constantly mapping the surface of the planet.
In some cases, the images you see in Google Maps were taken a few months ago, while in other cases it’s been years since the images were refreshed.
If you take a careful look at the satellite imagery of your house, you could guess at when the picture was taken based on what’s in your yard, and the cars parked out front.
There are a few services that will give you a live view from space.
There are cameras attached to the International Space Station that give you a view of the Earth passing below.
Soon, a company called Urthecast will be connecting HD cameras to the space station. You’ll be able to scroll, pan, zoom, and search your way around their video stream.
They’ll also be providing developers with access to open source video streams.
We’re not quite yet at the live camera broadcast of your backyard from space, but some of us suspect it’s only a matter of time.