Mountain View (CA) - The first image to ever been captured by the GeoEye-1, the highest-resolution commercial satellite sponsored by Google, was Kutztown University in Pennsylvania.
On October 7, 2008 at noon the 4300 pound satellite captured the image while en route from the North Pole to the South Pole. It was in orbit at 423 miles in the air and traveling 17,000 miles per hour, which is about 4.5 miles each second. Google’s space craft is capable of taking images at a resolution of almost 41 centimeters.
Google is not the only company with stake in the GeoEye-1, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, which is an agency of the United States government responsible for analyzing imagery for national security paid for half of the development of the satellite, and agrees to purchase imagery from it.
The military has been utilizing high-resolution satellites that have the ability to read newspaper headlines anywhere. It has only been in the recent years that the technology has been made available to the public. In 2004, this technology was brought into our homes via Google Earth. Initially, the low resolution imagery was spotty. However, by early 2006 the resolution improved significantly.
Though Google and the NGA will be sharing the satellite, Google, due to government restrictions is only able to use images taken at a 50-centimeter resolution, whereas the military will be utilizing the 41 centimeter resolution. Google will also be able to utilize the images exclusively on the web.
Google and the NGA will be launching the Geo-Eye 2 in 2011 or 2012. This satellite will have a 25 centimeter resolution, but don’t expect to be able to see anything more on the search engine, once again, due to government restrictions.