Ever wondered what you would see if you could look down on your neighborhood from space? It turns out there are a lot of online tools to help you do that. Not a great surprise, considering how many decades things like spy satellites, weather balloons (and orbital platforms), and GPS devices have been looking down on us. And that is ignoring the less formal collections, like shuttle astronauts with digital cameras, or NASA/ESA project techs who want to point their devices at earth to get a baseline image before their robots get to other planets.
So here are a few fun links to get you started. The resolution of the best of the publicly available ones is only about a meter on a side, so you can see your house or car, but not your pet or neighbor (unless your pet/neighbor weighs in at over 500 pounds). The satellite images that can read the brand name and logo off your golf ball exist, but you need a security clearance way above the average persons to get access to them.
USGS Orbital Maps, just found my house on this one; drill down and check it out!
TerraFly is a Java Applet to interface you to the database, and allow you to virtually “Fly” over the terrain imaged here, driven off their online data. This one is brought to you by Florida International University, the National Science Foundation, NASA, the United States Geological Survey, and IBM.
Another NASA sponsered interface, this one is a great way to narrow down your search for yourself.
And yet another NASA site in this mode:
On the more commercial side, there is:
All of these are worth a visit; check them out and let me know what you think!