Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Google Earth, Foreign Wars, And The Future Of Satellite Imagery: DigitalGlobe Firm Providing Much of the Imagery for Google Earth is Now Launching a Next-Generation Satellite in 2014 - WorldView-3

However, the super-sharp images of the WorldView-3 aren't for Google and Bing Maps: They're going straight to the military and intelligence agencies. 

""DigitalGlobe, the Colorado-based imaging firm responsible for much of Google Earth's, Bing Maps', and Google Maps' content, has a new satellite on the way. The WorldView-3 is a super-high-resolution remote-sensing satellite slated for a 2014 launch. Ball Aerospace & Technologies is building the satellite and ITT will be responsible for the WorldView-3's optical imager. However, the primary audience for Worldview-3 pictures won't be Google. Images from the new satellite are mainly intended to be sold and licensed to the U.S. government.""

""Firms such as DigitalGlobe and their main competitor, Virginia's GeoEye, earn most of their money from their satellite constellations (or, for the rest of us, their satellites in space) custom-snapping pictures for customers or from resale of the regular imagery the satellites make. These clients range from Google to mining companies to, most importantly, the U.S. government.

Unfortunately, the best imagery that comes out of high-end satellites such as the WorldView-3 won't make it onto Google Earth anytime soon. U.S. regulations prohibit commercial customers from purchasing imagery with anything better than a .5 meter ground resolution. This means that, unless you work for the federal government or for a close foreign ally, you won't be able to see satellite footage of yourself lounging in a hammock just yet.""

""The best images to make it out of the WorldView-3 will have a considerably better resolution than .5 meters. Once complete, the satellite will have an image resolution that ranges between .3 and .46 meters. Government regulations require images from the WorldView-2 and WorldView-3 to be resampled to a lower resolution before being offered to private customers.

Intelligence services and the Defense Department will be able to use WorldView-3 for satellite imagery that is crisper and clearer than anything currently on the market. Instead of Google Earth's blurry (though admittedly cool) close-up imagery, government customers will have access to images that look like they jumped out of a science fiction movie.""

""According to DigitalGlobe CTO Walter Scott, the company's three current satellites photograph the earth's surface approximately six times a year, collecting between 2 and 3 pentabytes of imagery annually. Not all of this data is provided to Google, which receives DigitalGlobe imagery through a special service agreement. Microsoft has a similar agreement that provides content for Bing Maps.""

"In an interview with Fast Company, Scott noted that":
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