Google's Super Satellite, GeoEye-1, Captures First Image

Posted by GIS talk On Wednesday, October 08, 2008
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GeoEye-1 was launched early September this year. It is the world's highest resolution commercial earth-imaging satellite with a spatial resolution of 43 centimeters.

Now, GeoEye-1 has released this bird's-eye view of Kutztown University in Pennsylvania. This was the first image ever seen by the GeoEye-1, the commercial satellite sponsored by Google.

The 4,300-pound satellite collected the image at noon EDT on October 7 while moving from the north pole to the south pole in a 423-mile-high orbit at 17,000 miles per hour, or 4.5 miles per second. The spacecraft can take photos at a resolution of up to 41 centimeters -- close enough to zoom in on the home plate of a baseball diamond, according to Mark Brender, GeoEye's vice president of communications and marketing.

Even though the GeoEye-1 satellite sports a colorful Google sticker, its key customer is actually not Google but rather the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, a U.S. government agency that analyzes imagery in support of national security. The NGA is paying for half of the development of the $502 million satellite and has committed to purchasing imagery from it. Google is GeoEye's second major partner.

There's one catch for Google: While the GeoEye-1 will provide imagery to the NGA at the maximum resolution of 43 centimeters, Google will only receive images at a 50-centimeter resolution because of a government restriction, Brender explained. However, Google's partnership with GeoEye is exclusive, meaning the search-engine giant will be the only online mapping site using the satellite's photos.

A second satellite, GeoEye-2, slated to launch in 2011 or 2012, will have a resolution of 25cm, company representatives promised. However, Google's satellite imagery will not likely get more detailed because of the 50cm regulation.

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