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Google Government Space

Google Earth's New Satellites 118

Rambo Tribble writes "The BBC provides some insights into the next generation satellites being built for Google by contractor DigitalGlobe in Colorado. The resolution of these satellites' cameras is sufficient to resolve objects that are only 25cm wide. Unfortunately, the public will be allowed only half that image quality, the best being reserved for the U.S. military. 'The light comes in through a barrel structure, pointed at the Earth, and is bounced around by a series of mirrors, before being focused onto a CCD sensor. The big difference – apart from the size – between this and a typical handheld digital camera, is that the spacecraft will not just take snapshots but continuous images along thin strips of land or sea.'"
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Google Earth's New Satellites

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  • Continuous Image (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bondsbw ( 888959 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @05:28PM (#46232493)

    What, pray tell, is a "continuous image" and how is it not a series of snapshots?

    Is this like a video (which is seemingly continuous over time, made by sequencing snapshots) or like a panoramic image (which is continuous over space, made by processing/overlaying snapshots)?

  • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @05:42PM (#46232637)

    But it probably gets Google the sats it needs for free.

    If google can build it, but only the military can use the full resolution, it sounds like google is probably getting huge piles of money from the US Military.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 13, 2014 @08:50AM (#46237063)

    When I was a contractor at DigitalGlobe, it was explained to me in this way:

    DigitalGlobe was one of the first, if not the first, companies to have a randomly taskable panchromatic satellite. Previously, only state agencies could afford such things.

    To prevent too much sensitive information reaching parties that the US Government preferred to not have access, an arrangement was made to allow the government first priority for exclusive data rights. They would buy up all the images that they wished to remain private, at a preferred rate. The private company didn't have to hassle with the government, could be a partner, and the spies got oversight and a measure of control in the process.

    We aren't Syria or Venezuela, our government doesn't nationalize companies. So, a compromise needed to be made, once private entities could operate technology that previously it took a wealthy nation to accomplish.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982