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India’s own Google Earth

Indian Space Research Organization launches free satellite-based 3D mapping service to the public

India’s own Google Earth
Bhuvan has been dubbed by many as the ‘Google Earth killer’.

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has released its satellite-based 3D mapping application – Bhuvan – that's been dubbed by many as the ‘Google Earth killer’.

The beta release of Bhuvan, which means earth in Sanskrit, is free to use but requires people to create an account and download a browser plug-in before they can use the service to explore 2D and 3D image data taken from ISRO’s remote sensing satellites over the last three years.

It does however restrict access to sensitive locations such as military and nuclear sites in the country.

Navigation tools are fairly similar to Google Earth, with users also given the option of ‘flying’ to a desired location or to important landmarks in a city. One of the most interesting features of Bhuvan is that it claims to show details in images up to 10 meters so small buildings and vehicles can be seen. In comparison, Google Earth images are limited to a distance of 200 meters.

“Most Image visualization programs are very expensive and complex. Bhuvan provides a fast and friendly way to look at IRS satellite data and thematic information in geographic context, which is invaluable for management, planning and visualization,” the Bhuvan website explains. “Over a period of time a lot more unique functionalities will be added into this tool to address common man’s problems, particularly in the rural setup of India and addressing natural resources management issues.”

Bhuvan is designed to be bandwidth-friendly but can run only on computers running on the Windows OS and is optimised for Internet Explorer 6 or higher.

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