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Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Most Powerful Commercial Imaging Satellite Ever Launched is Sending Back Pics

As reported by GigaOM: WorldView-3, the super-powerful commercial satellite that launched two weeks ago, is now sending images back to Earth. The satellite is remarkable for its ability to collect sharp images down to a scale of 11.8 inches, which is enough for it to tell a tomato plant from a shrub and a sedan from an SUV.

“You can actually definitely see (car) windshields,” DigitalGlobe director of next generation products Kumar Navulur said before the launch. “We can actually tell you whether it’s a truck or an SUV or a regular car. We can identify pictures of a baseball diamond.”

The first images released by the satellite’s operator DigitalGlobe (headquartered in Longmont Colorado) depict an airport and neighborhoods in Madrid. In the airport images, airplanes, luggage trailers and activity like refueling or opening a hatch are visible.
An airport in Madrid. Photo courtesy of DigitalGlobe.
An airport in Madrid. Photo courtesy of DigitalGlobe.

An airport in Madrid. Photo courtesy of DigitalGlobe.
An airport in Madrid. Photo courtesy of DigitalGlobe.

The neighborhood images show how easy it is to count items like pools, cars and even individual trees.
A view of Madrid. Photo courtesy of DigitalGlobe.
A view of Madrid. Photo courtesy of DigitalGlobe.

A view of Madrid. Photo courtesy of DigitalGlobe.
A view of Madrid. Photo courtesy of DigitalGlobe.

DigitalGlobe actually had to edit the images to be less sharp than it is capable of producing. In June it became legal for the company to release images accurate at the 15.75 inch scale or above. Images at WorldView-3’s full 11.8 inch capability won’t be allowed until next year, when images down to 9.84 inches will be accepted.

WorldView-3 is capable of imaging areas nearly the size of Texas each day. It won’t be long before it passes over your town, so be sure to get your tomato plants photo-ready.