Headlines > News > New Spy in the Sky To Be Launched On September 4

New Spy in the Sky To Be Launched On September 4

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Sat Aug 30, 2008 9:49 pm
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A new commercial earth-imaging satellite, called GeoEye-1, is slated to be launched atop an United Launch Alliance’s Delta II rocket from Vandenberg, California on September 4.

Live coverage on the launch and more information…

Formerly called OrbView-5 it will be the imaging satellite with the hightest resolution commercially available. Only classified military spy satellites achieve higher resolutions. Actually, with a resolution of 41 cm it is necessary to process the images down to 50 cm resolution for a non-restricted access. Only US Government-authorized people can benefit from the maximum resolution.

Credit: GeoEye, www.geoeye.com

Disaster management, infrastructure planning and agriculture optimization are only a few applications that use such satellites. With the very high resolution these can benefit a lot. Just imagine a 4.5 meters long car. It will be imaged with 9 pixels. For example searching for a crashed plane is then much easier and faster.

The upper image shows Colorado Capitol in 1 meter resolution, the lower image in 0.5 m resolution. Copyright: GeoEye, www.geoeye.com

GeoEye-1, built by General Dynamics and weighing nearly 2 metric tonnes, will orbit the Earth 15 times a day in an altitude of about 700 kilometers. It has an one terabit large recorder and can transfer data with impressive 740 Mbit/second.

Publically available for everyone is the Landsat imagery, used for example in NASA’s World Wind. That satellite, launched in 1999, has a resolution of only 15 meters. It won’t take that long until companies like Google will start to use such high resolution imagery then provided by GeoEye-1. Aerial pictures of your house were yesterday, it’s time for satellite imagery to hang on the wall.

But of course, coming with such high resolution, is the question regarding privacy. A half meter is not good enough to identify individuals. But nonetheless discussion will be necessary as the next even better spies in the skies loom ahead.

Feel free to discuss this article in the forum… or chat…

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