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
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
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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