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What can you see on a satellite map view?

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Quick Answer

Clicking the satellite map view option in most popular map applications provides an aerial view of the location in question, compiled from photographs that may be only a few months old. In some cases, satellite view images may be combined from multiple observations on different dates.

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What can you see on a satellite map view?
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Full Answer

The "satellite view" button in many applications is actually a misnomer. While most mapping applications do utilize satellite data, most urban imagery comes from aerial photographs and not satellite feeds. Since an airplane may take multiple passes over an area, this can cause the perspective of buildings to be skewed where images are stitched together, with some appearing to lean in different directions, depending on the angle of photography. Satellite images are often less detailed than aerial photos and are typically reserved for non-urban areas in mapping programs.

Satellite image view resolution can vary widely, depending on the source of the photographs. In some cases, the resolution may allow users to zoom in close enough to identify individual automobiles on a photograph, while in others only buildings and streets may be readily identifiable. In addition, these views may be stitched together from different photo collections shot at different times in order to remove clouds and other obstructions, creating anomalies around construction sites and other features that change over time.

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