5 Fun Facts About Google Maps for Earth Observation Buffs

1) Tons of Data!

Google Maps has accumulated 20 petabytes (21 million gigabytes) of data to date, with its combination of satellite, aerial, and street level imagery.

Realistically, all the data Google Maps has collected can't be stored forever. Therefore, a lot of data is maintained for a specific life span and stored in the cloud. Google uses a distributed file system called Object Based Storage and Big Table. They also store data across different servers, but with the same interface used when accessing a local file. They will store data as objects, with some of it refreshed daily, in order to support petabytes of data. Google's data centers are spread across the globe, with 20 locations in the US, 12 in Europe, 3 in Asia, 1 in Russia, and 1 in South America. Come 2017, there will be 8 new regions, with data centers across Australia, Brazil, Germany, India, Singapore, London, Finland, Northern Virginia and more.

Pyongyang, North Korea Credit: TIME

Pyongyang, North Korea Credit: TIME

2) Lost Pyramids

In 2012, Angela Micol discovered lost Egyptian pyramids using Google Earth. She then cross-checked this discovery using maps dating from 1753 that showed proof of the pyramids.

The Long Lost Ancient Egyptian Pyramids Credit: Angela Micol

The Long Lost Ancient Egyptian Pyramids Credit: Angela Micol

3) Discovered Forest

Scientist Julian Bayliss discovered a previously unknown rain forest near Mount Mabu in Africa using Google Earth. He later named the rainforest “Google Forest” as he noticed this territory had never been studied.

NASA Satellite Image of Mount Mabu 2007

NASA Satellite Image of Mount Mabu 2007

4) Explore Mars

Satellite imagery is now available beyond Earth! Google Mars allows you to explore the planet with infrared imagery. With Google Mars you can locate the various Mars Rovers and when they landed.

Credit: NASA/JPL/GSFC/ASU

Credit: NASA/JPL/GSFC/ASU

5) No Real-Time

Google Maps is not updated in real time, rather its aerial and satellite images are updated every two weeks. This lag in imagery refreshes is due to due to a few factors: 1) the revisit rates of the imagery satellites, 2) dependence on factors such as weather conditions, and 3) the latency in satellite communications using ground station networks. At Audacy we find this frustrating, so we’re building a real-time data relay network to allow satellites to send their data (like images) back to earth at any time. To learn how we do this, visit our website or get in touch!

Google contract and uses DigitalGLobe Quickbird Credit: Digital Globe

Google contract and uses DigitalGLobe Quickbird Credit: Digital Globe