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Today is Monday, 15 September 2014
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Live Satellite Images

While there are many different services offering satellite images in various resolutions and formats you may be disappointed when searching for live satellite images. The truth is that at this point in time there are no services or tools available to the public which will provide you with a live real-timesatellite image. Any website or tool offering such a thing is either misinformed or not telling the truth regarding their satellite imagery. All satellite images available to the public were taken in the past which could range from a few months to a few years old.

Closest thing to live satellite images

The closest thing you’ll find to live satellite images of earth from space are the images which are taken and used for weather purposes. These are usually few and far between though. Typically, you will only find satellite images that are close to real-time when a major storm like a hurricane or tropical depression is being observed. However, these satellite photos aren’t anything like the close-up high resolution pictures you might find through some satellite imagery services.

Why is it impossible to find them?

The truth is that getting a live image from a satellite would require the satellite itself to be serving out the image to the public. This would require tremendous resources from the satellite and even if available would likely come at a cost. Not only that but satellites themselves don’t always have real-time images as the data they collect usually requires some post-processing before a detailed image is available. This means it’s not likely you will be able to find any real-time satellite photos at any point in the near future.

Who has access to real-time satellite images?

While live images from a satellite aren’t available to the public, it’s likely that government organizations may have access to this technology. You could speculate that the US government could utilize real-time satellite imagery for national defense purposes, although you’ll have a hard time finding any proof. The following organizations are well known for providing satellite images. They are likely the only confirmed public sources of actual satellite images that are live or very close to live.

  • GeoEye
  • DigitalGlobe
  • Spot Image
  • Rapid Eye
  • ImageSat International

Although the public is unable to access real-time data from a satellite, it may become available in the future as technology progresses.

Live Satellite Images from Google Maps and Google Earth

While Google Maps and Google Earth may be a great resource for collecting satellite imagery, their data is somewhat outdated. You can expect the same situation while using Bing maps and their very popular tool, Bird’s Eye View.

Screenshot of Bing Birds Eye View online tool

Bing Birds Eye View of New York Downtown

Different areas are updated at different times, however, their overall image base at this time may be up to 5 years old or more. If you’re looking for actually live satellite images of your house you’re not likely to find them. If your house is newer it might not even show up at all. However, while you might not find up-to-date aerial or satellite photography in Google Maps, Google Earth or Bing Maps, you may be able to find more updated views of a location or object thanks to ground with street view tools and features. A street view tool utilizes photos taken from a vehicle traveling through select cities and locations. Because the street view feature is relatively new you’re likely to find much more recent photos, although they aren’t taken from a satellite.

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