Google Maps now shows high quality imagery thanks to Landsat 8

If you have been using Google Maps and have noticed a bump up in image quality, don’t rub your eyes. This is because the search giant has been working on improved imagery that has so far been able to deliver more than 700 trillions individual pixels of data, as a recent blog post points out.

And the difference is noticeable. This is more so, if you find yourself using the satellite mode instead of the standard flat graphics that the Maps app usually switches to. The new mosaic is made available thanks to both the Landsat 8 satellite and the publicly available Earth Engine APIs.

The difference, according to Google, comes from cloud-free imagery—one that showcases clearer views of the earth with greater detail and truer colours. The Landsat 8 also captures images twice as fast as Landsat 7, making the mosaic more up-to-date than past iterations.

Google states that the data obtained for its current mosaic consists of 700 trillion individual pixels. “To put that in perspective, 700 trillion pixels is 7,000 times more pixels than the estimated number of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, or 70 times more pixels than the estimated number of galaxies in the Universe.” writes Chris Herwig, Program Manager, Google Earth Engine.

The Home Ministry had recently conveyed to Google that its plans to cover India through Google Street View has been rejected.

Security establishment are wary of allowing such image capture techniques given that planning for the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai is believed to have involved photographic reconnaissance of targets by Pakistani American, David Coleman Headley.

Official sources said the rejection came after a detailed analysis by security agencies and defence forces, which feel that allowing Google to cover India would compromise the country’s security.