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The company is able to make use of this imagery because NASA, in collaboration with the United States Geological Survey makes its Landsat database open source for anyone to make use of.

All the imagery can be accessed using the Earth Engine application programming interface, which scientists use to study large-scale global changes in the environment and track the spread of diseases.

Several years ago, Google engineers figured out a way to stitch together satellite imagery to remove clouds, giving Google Earth and Google Maps users a better and more comprehensive view of the ground below. When Google first unveiled its techniques for eliminating from Google Earth images striped artifacts, clouds and other atmospheric effects, it was using imagery from Landsat 7.

Today, the company has repeated the process, but this time with newer, crisper imagery from NASA and the U. However, the images Landsat 7 captured after 2003 were affected by a hardware failure that resulted in diagonal gaps of missing data.

According to the Google Earth Blog, data updates usually happen about once a month, but they may not show real-time images.

Changes are made as Google receives new data from the public and from satellites.

If you're browsing Google Maps in Satellite View, you may notice that location details are not always up-to-date.

Google Maps uses the same satellite data as Google Earth.

In Google's case, the imagery is used for a simpler purpose.

Still, it's endlessly fascinating to scour the globe from the distance of an orbiting satellite, and the view has never looked better.

If you go to the bottom of the satellite map, you see a date stamp marking the last update.

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