GeoEye-1 Earth-Imaging Satellite Goes Online

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and Google-sponsored GeoEye-1 satellite, which was launched on September 6, has begun capturing image data from its orbit 423 miles above Earth. The satellite had been undergoing calibration and check out since launch, but transmitted its first, full color half-meter ground resolution images yesterday.

Although the first images released from the Satellite are half-meter ground resolution, GeoEye-1 is actually capable of capturing much more precise images. Due to U.S. licensing restrictions, commercial customers--like Google--can only be given access to imagery that has been processed to half-meter ground resolution. But the GeoEye-1 satellite actually collects 0.41-meter ground resolution black-and-white imagery in the panchromatic mode and 1.65-meter color imagery in multispectral mode.

Click Image For Hi-Res Version JPEG

This first image released by the GeoEye-1 team shows Kutztown University, which is located midway between Reading and Allentown, Penn. The image was produced by fusing the satellite's panchromatic and multispectral data to produce a high-quality, true-color image. Images captured by the satellite already show great detail, but engineers working on the project expect them to get even better as they continue to dial in the calibration.

Matthew O'Connell, GeoEye's chief executive officer, said,
"We are pleased to release the first GeoEye-1 image, bringing us even closer to the start of the satellite's commercial operations and sales to our customers. This is a remarkable achievement, and I want to thank all of our employees, customers, especially the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, strategic partners, vendors and investors for their support."

The Kutztown University image shows the campus, which includes academic buildings, parking lots, roads, athletic fields and the track-and-field facility. The image was collected at 12:00 p.m. EDT on Oct. 7, 2008 while GeoEye-1 was moving north to south in a 423-mile-high (681 km) orbit over the eastern seaboard of the U.S. at a speed of four-and-one-half miles per second.

The GeoEye-1 satellite was built by General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems in Gilbert, Ariz. The imaging system, however, was built by ITT in Rochester, NY.

We are unsure when image data captured by the new GeoEye-1 satellite will make its way into Google Earth or Google Maps, but once it does expect the clarity and resolution to be much better than what is available today.

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