Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Google unlocks Landsat archives

It took Google 2 ½ years to convert 40 years of Landsat imagery from tapes stored in USGS archives to the cloud. Two petabytes of data in total. Now all this data is made available to researchers and non-profit organisation for comparison and number-crunching through the Google Earth Engine tool under the Google Earth Outreach program.

There is a great expectation that free access to data and significant computational capability will lead to a surge in public benefit maps coming out of Australia. Organisations that have already partnered with Google to access a suite of GIS products and learn how to use them for free include the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA).

Despite numerous attempts over the years to open up the vaults of valuable satellite data to academics, research institutions and individuals it took a determined private company to make it all possible. A good example of public-private collaboration that is probably a sign of things to come. This is a side of Google that we all would like to hear about more often.

More free data: Satellite Imagery Catalogue 


Anonymous said...

The Landsat archive is freely available through the U.S. Geological Survey and has been since 2008. Check out

All Things Spatial said...

True, but only as individual scenes which you have to download and use your own "tools" to do something useful with it. Just imagine the cost and time it would take to download 10 TB of data for Australia... and if every interested researcher does it individually on his/her own :-)