The Register, a
n Australian-based UK technology publication, released a story regarding Google's newly formed relationship with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO, Australia's national science agency ). According to the article, "Google is teaming up with CSIRO via its Google Earth Outreach Program to put cloud-based satellite image analysis in front of earth sciences researchers."
In short, all of the remotely-sensed satellite data needed by researchers will be offloaded to a Google cloud platform for quick searching of imagery from overpasses of recent years. Researchers will also have access to analytical tools for image processing as well as Google immense data center for crunching large amounts of data. So, what was once the purview of big data centers at big universities will be now be handled more by Google. Google Earth Outreach is availablef for eligible non-profits.
I think the last line of the article is very telling
"Shed a small tear for desktop GIS specialists who have spent years honing their satellite imagery skills..."