Another Step Towards Live Satellite Maps

The next step in the race towards “live” maps seems to be public satellite, or ISS, based near realtime HD video. The footage below is from Skybox Imaging, a company that has just started offering customers 90-second video of any point on Earth from its SkySat-1 satellite. In this clip, the SkyBox video sits on top of a static layer of satellite imagery and is overlaid by a map layer from Mapbox, based on OpenStreetMap.

Another company, Planet Labs, has just launched its own fleet of 28 imaging microsatellites from the International Space Station and hopes to offer scientists and the public the chance to track changes on the Earth’s surface with much higher frequency than ever before. These satellites will only provide still images though.

Yet another company, Urthecast, recently successfully deployed their cameras to the International Space Station with a planned beta launch of their partly free service later this year. First images of the medium resolution camera are already available.

Also NASA seems to be willing to ride the wave by putting up four off the shelf HD cameras outside the ISS for the HDEV (High Definition Earth Viewing) project. The cameras will be insulated but not shielded against radiation. One of the projects goals is to find out what camera copes best with the radiation.

[Update] Recently found this more comprehensive list of players in this race on ieee.spectrum.

Desktop Map Renderer

TileMill is a free Open Street Map Renderer for OSX, Linux, Ubuntu. It allows to edit the styling off the map in a comfortable editor. Maps can be exported to PNG, PDF, SVC etc.

Maperitive is annother application in this category. It’s also capable of exporting 3D Terrain Data as a textured COLLADA mesh



OSM Data based Vector Maps

Cloudmade offers extracts of Open Street Map Data in several formats as a download. Available formats include:

  • OSM XML extracts by country
  • Garmin Map Files (OSM.err edition)
  • Osmosis country bounding polygon
  • Shapefile extracts by country
  • Navit maps by country
  • GPX POI by country
  • TomTom POI by country
  • OSM XML feature extracts by country
  • Adobe Illustrator files by country