Move aside satellites -- there's a old-school way of getting aerial images that is making its way on to Google Earth. Kites and balloons! The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science worked with Google to collect images for Google Earth. The lab is dedicated to grassroots mapping, and promotes anyone and everyone getting involved in gathering mapping data. The images collected look downright fantastic.
The Google Lat Long blog states, "The Public Laboratory has developed an open source balloon mapping toolkit that allows anyone with an inexpensive digital point and shoot camera, and about $100 of other parts (balloon, helium, line, soda bottle, etc.) to take photos of the ground around them. They also provide a web-based tool called MapKnitter for aligning the photos into a georeferenced image that can be used in Google Earth and other digital mapping tools."So if you're interested in seeing what you can get with a point-n-shoot and a balloon, here is your opportunity! You can also check out what others have collected by accessing Public Laboratory's archives that have been loaded in to Google Earth.
We absolutely love this open-source mapping project and heartily encourage you to check out Public Laboratory and take part in this low-tech/high-tech version of exploring our communities and world.