How images are collected
You can see a large collection of imagery in Google Earth, including satellite, aerial, 3D, and Street View images. Images are collected over time from providers and platforms. Images aren't in real time, so you won't see live changes.
When images are collected
- Some images list a single acquisition date, which is defined by the image provider.
- If an image is a mosaic of multiple satellite or aerial photos taken over days or months, a date range with a start date and an end date is displayed to show the dates the images were collected between.
- If little or no date information is supplied by the data provider, a start and end date are shown for the range within which we can be reasonably certain the image was taken.
- "Summer 1995" might become start:1995-06-01 and end:1995-09-30
- "1943" might become start:1943-01-01 and end:1943-12-31
Note: For all images with date ranges, the "Imagery Date" shows the oldest date in the possible range, so that a date is never newer than the actual image collection date.
If you’re looking for more information about when an image was collected, contact the original provider of that dataset. Image providers are shown in copyright dates. Google is not able to provide any more information about imagery it owns beyond what is displayed in Google Earth and Maps.
Why image dates change
- Images closer to the ground are usually made up of one image. The date displayed in these cases should stay the same wherever you move your cursor.
- Aerial images are usually made up of a mosaic of several images. The date may change as you move your cursor around the map.
- No date is shown when there is no date information available for the image or when your cursor is over the seam of two images.
More about image types & their collection dates
The satellite and aerial images in Google Earth are taken by cameras on satellites and aircraft, which collect each image at a specific date and time.Those images can be used in Google Earth as a single image with the specific collection date, but sometimes:
- The images are combined into a mosaic of images taken over multiple days or months. These images are displayed as one seamless image and the date may change as you move your cursor around the map.
- There is limited information about the image collection and the date displayed reflects the start of a date range when the image was most likely collected.
- When the "3D Buildings" layer is turned on, the detailed terrain and buildings images are derived from aerial images collected over multiple dates, so Google Earth does not display a collection date.
- The collection date information is lost or inaccurate due to human error or other issues.
Google Earth does not display a collection date for 3D images. That's because the aerial images are collected over multiple dates. This makes it possible to show detailed terrain and buildings.
When viewing historical images, the date indicated on the time slider means that the images shown were captured on or before that date.
- If the database contains two overlapping images of a place collected the same day, only one of them will be viewable in Google Earth.
- Sometimes the dates shown on the time slider and in the status bar are off by one day due to timezone differences between the image collection date/time and the timezone of the computer.
- By default, Google Earth uses the host computer’s time zone, but this can be changed to UTC or any other time zone through Date and Time Options .