Thursday, July 9, 2009

Non-Google Earth Imagery Finds


Sometimes, Google Earth, useful as it is, is just not enough. In many cases it is necessary to refer to another imagery source to locate current imagery of a given location, or perhaps imagery of a location not covered in Google Earth. There are many other online browsers which can be consulted, such as Microsoft's Bing Maps (formerly known as Windows Live Local), but many of these sources only focus on the most popular (usually meaning populated) areas. This can leave an analyst quite irritated, especially given the fact that procuring imagery from an external supplier can be a tedious and restrictive process. Not to mention expensive. Fortunately, there is an answer.


Terra Server is an imagery provider, a relatively inexpensive and uncomplicated source of imagery from suppliers such as Digital Globe. And for those of you who have been browsing online imagery for quite some time now, no, Terra Server is not related to the former Microsoft endeavor bearing the same name. By far the best feature of Terra Server is the ability to browse imagery online. This allows any potential purchaser to preview exactly what is being offered, even to the point where images of a given target captured on different dates can be browsed.

Terra Server is not meant to be a free imagery viewing service, and as such the imagery is watermarked and the preview window is not that large (although for a monthly fee you can get a larger, non-watermarked viewer). Even with the aforementioned restrictions to viewing, the "service" provided is bascally free of charge for unlimited use. This makes it very valuable to analysts, especially those on a budget! The value is further emphasized when the volume of imagery available for viewing is examined. Many areas not covered by high-resolution imagery in Google Earth are clearly visible, and many other areas feature very recent imagery captured at various points in 2009. In short, any analyst who has not yet browsed through Terra Server's holdings is missing out on a fantastic resource.


The following placemark file for use in Google Earth depicts the locations of a number of interesting facilities identified through Terra Server's imagery browser: Right click, save as.

There are three folders in the file, as well as three other placemark files. The folders include updates for the Chinese 2nd Artillery file, the SAM Site Overview, and interesting sights at Kapustin Yar.

The other three placemarks depict a Tu-144D on display in Germany, the 53T6 testing grounds at Sary Shagan, and the Voronezh-DM BMEW radar at Armavir.

By clicking on each placemark, a window will open containing a link to the Terra Server imagery depicting these locations. Hopefully this will demonstrate the usefulness of Terra Server's service, as well as providing analysts with insight into some of the facilities identifiable using the Terra Server viewer.


-Placemark locations compiled by browsing Terra Server imagery, or Google Earth historical imagery