Google offers a quadrillion bytes of satellite views

An image from the Sentinel-2 satellite shows the Australian city of Brisbane and its surroundings. (Credit: ESA / Google)

How do you channel a flood of almost 5 million images into useful applications? Google Cloud is doing it with more than 30 years’ worth of satellite imagery from the Landsat and Sentinel-2 missions, for free.

Satellite views have long been part of Google’s global mapping operation, of course. But putting them on the cloud is a different matter.

One of the newly added data sets draws upon the complete catalog of pictures from Landsat 4, 5, 7 and 8, amounting to 1.3 petabytes of data that go back to 1984. The other data set takes advantage of more than 430 terabytes’ worth of multispectral imaging from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2 satellite, which is part of the Copernicus program to monitor global environmental indicators.

The Landsat database keeps track of 4 million scenes, while the Sentinel-2 set offers 970,000 images. More pictures are being added daily.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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