Not a cloud in the sky! Well, at least not the skies above the images of Earth on Google's new high resolution maps.
Google's Lat-Long blog writes, "To celebrate the sunny days of summer (in the northern hemisphere at least), we're unveiling new satellite imagery for all Google mapping products today. This stunning new imagery of the earth from space virtually eliminates clouds, includes refreshed imagery for regions of the world where high-resolution imagery is not yet available, and offers a more comprehensive and accurate view of the texture of our planet's landscape."
Of course, there are those of us who think that an image of Earth is much more lovely with clouds than without -- and meteorologists probably think half the point of seeing satellite images has just been removed -- but for anyone who wants to see the planet's surface in fine detail without being blocked by fluffy white clouds, you have the best tool yet at your fingertips.
Google writes, "We're proud of the progress we have made, but there is always room to keep improving. For example, although we have tried to minimize the impact of the stripe artifacts in the Landsat 7 images, they are still visible in some areas. There is more good news though: the new Landsat 8 satellite, launched earlier this year, promises to capture even more beautiful and up-to-date imagery in the months and years ahead."
The images really are phenomenal. Seeing the high resolution detail of areas that were previously fuzzy blocks of pixels is fascinating -- and necessary. For instance, here is an area showing Brazil's deforestation, before the high resolution imagery and after (which shows not only more detail, but more loss of trees):
You can see more by using satellite view in Google Maps, or zooming out in Google Earth.