Google's Super Satellite Captures First Image


This bird's-eye view of Kutztown University in Pennsylvania was the
first image ever seen by the GeoEye-1, the world's highest-resolution
commercial satellite sponsored by Google, when it opened its camera
door earlier this week.

4,300-pound satellite collected the image at noon EDT on Oct. 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 cm
-- 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
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.

"This is the opposite of a spy satellite," Brender said in a phone interview. "Spies don't put info on the internet
and sell imagery. We're an Earth-imaging satellite, and we can sell our
imagery to customers around the world who have a need to map and
measure and monitor things on the ground."

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