back to article US satellite returns first hi-res snap

Satellite imaging outfit GeoEye has released the first pic from its GeoEye-1, launched on 6 September and destined to provide hi-res snaps for Google's all-seeing Earth and Maps services. The image in question is of Kutztown University, Pennsylvania, caught on camera while the satellite was "moving north to south in a 423-mile …


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  1. Tony Barnes

    High Res...?

    Looks lower than the stuff we've already got...

  2. David Nicholson

    Planes vs. satellites

    I think some of the highest res stuff is actually shot from planes, not satellites. I guess the advantage of this is the area it can cover?

  3. Dick Lovewell


    Higher res than most satellite images. The higher res images you see on Google Earth/Maps are grom aerial photographs.

  4. Matt

    Where's the topless girl angle?

    Mind you in cloud covered Blighty she might be safe!

  5. Steve

    @High Res...?

    It's higher res than the current satellite stuff. Look at most of Scotland, Wales or Ireland it's just fuzzy blobs. Most of the high res images that it has are (I understand) from planes rather than satellite, and presumably have to be agreed with and licensed from each country/region - they also don't update very often so much of England's hi-res imagery hasn't been updated in a few years. I guess this will offer a consistent level of detail across the globe and be more up-to-date? Although the problem with satellites is that they have to fly above the cloud...

  6. Andrew Gratton


    Looks sharper to me...,+Pennsylvania&ie=UTF8&ll=40.510508,-75.780569&spn=0.003104,0.00692&t=h&z=18

  7. Jon

    @Tony Barnes

    The hi-res imagery in google earth at the moment is taken from aircraft, not satellite.

  8. Greg


    If you're thinking of Google Earth or whatnot, that's aerial photography.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Think of the children!

    0.5m resolution! Most children are at least 0.5m in size!!!

    Paedophiles could use this to hunt down the poor innocent children!!!!!!


  10. aldude

    Re: High Res... ?

    It is probably lower resolution than what's available - but that's taken using cameras in aeroplanes, which is slow, expensive etc. and therefore only available in a limited area and sometimes a couple of years out of date, if not more.

    At least with a satellite the images may cover a larger area and get updated more frequently. At least, there's the hope...

  11. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

    @High Res...?

    Except the stuff we already have is taken from planes, not satellites, which is why most of the stuff on 'a famous search engine' earth is a few years out of date and missing his-res images on sparsely populated areas (the Peloponnese peninsular in Southern Greece is a good example of this).

  12. Spockter Doc

    Why only release one?

    Are the others "classic" snaps? Heads missing? Thumb over the lens? Someone mooning in the background?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What does resolution mean?

    I obviously don't understand what resolution means here. Those markings on the car-park look - at a very rough eyeball - to be at least 2px wide on the image. Does that mean that every line is actually 0.8-1.0m wide on the ground (ie 0.4-0.5m/px)? I don't think so.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Where's the topless girl angle?

    With .5Meter resolution they'll be some mighty airbags...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Oh yeah, those extra 9cm of resolution are really going to hurt the US govt.

    41cm = NO

    50cm = YES

  16. Phil

    I see no difference

    I thought maybe just the on-line version of the images weren't so good, so I downloaded the one available on the site, and it's not any higher resolution than what we already get.

  17. Nicholas Martin
    Thumb Up

    ahh, but dont they currently use planes?

    The current high-res imagery google uses is mostly from planes flying over and capturing strips of landscape. This is obvously very costly for a big country, hence why in the USA only major cities are in high res.

    High(ish) resolution satellite imagery allows details mapping of very large areas of land quickly (and more cheaply) than flying planes over each km of land.

    Now they could map the whole of the North america continent, (about 24,486,305 km²) or even other continents at a higher resolution.

  18. Natalie Gritpants Silver badge

    Prince fans?

    Lots of purple cars in that car park. Was Prince performing there ata the time? Might explain the empty spaces.

  19. Norfolk Enchants Paris

    What I'd like to see

    I'd love to be able to hop on this just as I could a webcam, control it and see stuff in real time. I'd also like to be able to position it over the northern part of the M25 and spot traffic jams. Or track Street View cars.

    Over and out.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Remind me ...

    ... not to sunbathe nude on on my balcony anymore.

    Oh, hang on a minute, I'm in Australia, and most of you guys are in Blighty, so let me explain: Sunbathing is when a person lies down while illuminated by the sun (that's the big, round bright thing that you can sometimes just make out behind the clouds) so that the UV in sunlight causes the person's skin to tan. Some countries experience completely blue skies with no clouds (no, honestly) that can go on day after day - and it even gets warm enough to go out without a coat. Overexposure to the sun can cause reddening and a burning sensation (athough this is not a problem in the UK). Contrary to popular opinion, placing a handkerchief on one's head, with the corners tied in knots, is not required for the sunbathing process to work.

    Mine's the Speedos, thanks.

  21. Secretgeek

    *Sigh* Someone has to do it.

    I for one welcome our 16,200mph flying, space based, all seeing eye, overlords.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    I'm so smart I want to pee

    Let me be the first to point out that most of the images on Google Earth were taken from aeroplanes, rather than satellites. I am surprised that no-one has pointed this out yet. The Register has so many clever readers and yet not one single person has had the wherewithal to point out that most of the images on Google Earth are taken from aeroplanes, rather than satellites.

    I'm going to hit refresh a couple of times, see what happens. The chances that someone else will have pointed out the same thing are minuscule, like a gnat.

    On a more serious note, but not much more serious, the images look surprisingly red; the colours seem wonky, as if the camera's infra-red filter wasn't working properly.

  23. Ivan Headache


    I think my interpretation of Hi-res is somewhat different from their's.

    For what I call Hi-res look at Southend Pier (in the Thames estuary for those non-brits) and have a look for the tennis court in Den Haag (Holland) the res is so hi that you can see the holes in the shadow of the tennis net. (also look for the man doing press-ups in the prison exercise yard).

    There's something I've always wondered about GE pictures. What height are they taken from? There's a small section near Radlett (hertfordshire) that appears to have a con trail running through it north to south (or vice versa).

  24. Dick Lovewell

    @ Anonymous Coward

    So, just to clarify: Australia is the country where you can get skin cancer as soon as you step out the door, and Blighty is the place where we can wander between buildings without requiring a large, brimmed, hat, preferably one with cork appendages, in order to avoid having chunks of our skin removed?

    Mine's the one with all the gold medals in the pocket, cheers.

  25. Graham Marsden

    I'm off to...

    ... paint "FUCK YOU!" in large, friendly letters in my back yard...!

  26. Stuart Halliday

    Get some perspective

    0.5M resolution simply means every pixel on your computer screen is showing you an area 50cm (1.5ft) wide. So this tells you a single pixel is about the size of a person as seen from above.

    Can we make any detail from a single pixel? Of course not.

    Take a look at the full stop used at the end of this sentence. That is about two pixels wide. Would anyone be worried if they looked like that in a photo? Well I know I wouldn't.

    So take a picture of from this satellite of a car for example. That's an 8 pixel blob. Heck you can't even make out its real colour from that! A child or adult standing next to the car will be virtually invisible. :-)

    To make any kind of detail at all of a person or to read a car licence plate you'd need say 1cm resolution. And that is never going to happen via satellite!

  27. martin

    @What does resolution mean?

    Spatial resolution means the size of the pixel on the ground. In that pixel you will have part of the line and part of the tarmac, giving you a mixed pixel. Depending on how much the line makes up you will see any level of white to grey. You can make it out as a line because you have consecutive pixels being partly/mostly white, even though the line is < 0.41 and our brain is quite good at seeing what it wants to see on a car park.

    In order to definitely make out an object it has to be 1.5x spatial resolution. Those are then massive boobies indeed.


  28. Tim Robson

    @Get some perspective

    "To make any kind of detail at all of a person or to read a car licence plate you'd need say 1cm resolution. And that is never going to happen via satellite!"

    Surely you mean "And that isn't going to happen in the next few years via satellite, at least for public consumption." I'd be shocked if some spy sat up there didn't have that kind of resolution already. Given that the US had the ability to accurately determine the brand of cigarettes in a shirt pocket from the pictures taken by an SR-71 Blackbird back in the early 60s, in 40 years, the likelihood of someone not coming up with a spy satellite to replace that same resolution is pretty low.

    And really, "never going to happen"? Imagine if the same technologies used in creating the Hubble telescope were put into use looking down, plus improvements in the field since then.

  29. Bounty


    I downloaded their 'high res' demo pic and compared it to google maps, and the google maps is much higher. Make sure youre framing the pics the same at same amount of zoom and you can clearly see major pixilization on the sat view. But hey, if it gives me a better view of the middle of the desert...uhhh I guess if I ever go there it might be cool.

  30. Chris Girocco

    Yo Mama Is So Big...

    GeoEye captures her in fo pixels!

  31. pAnoNymous
    Thumb Up

    I wanted it live already...

    So when do we get the live feeds?

    Can't wait till I can spy on all yous 24/7. Hehehe.... :)

  32. Mike Green

    Don't believe the lies...

    I moved here from blighty last november, and the weather has been rubbish. My Aussie GF lived in the UK for a year before that, and she was always saying 'When's the summer coming, when's the summer coming?' and then I moved to Sydney, and ever since then it's been about as hot and wet as England... Now I ask her 'When's the summer coming?'

  33. KenBW2

    @Ivan Headache | Probably missed the boat on anyone reading this

    but it bloody well needs saying.

    "For what I call Hi-res look at Southend Pier (in the Thames estuary for those non-brits)"

    Well excuse me, but i think if i mentioned the River Ribble to a Southerner they'd look pretty blank at me. I hate this about Southerners: are you the centre of the universe or what? Or is Britain confined to below Birmingham? Get over yourself, it's not that grim up North.

    Oh, and there's no apostrophe in "their's"

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Get some perspective

    "to read a car licence plate you'd need say 1cm resolution. And that is never going to happen via satellite!"

    Err, as far as I recall, my car's licence plate is mounted vertically, and as such, can't be read from above regardless of the resolution...

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google thinking globally

    It may not make any difference for those parts of the western world where it is economically feasible to use aircraft to acquire images, but it could offer big improvements for the rest of the planet. Of course, you could already get hi-rez imagery from Digital Globe and other purveyors, but at a (very hefty) price- for example, someone was paying Digital Globe heaps of dosh to get the images of the alleged nuclear facility in Syria. Current Google coverage in much of the Middle East has a resolution of a several metres, still not as good as the 2 metre rez of the Corona satellite images taken 40 years ago. Hopefully, the free Google imagery will at last improve on this. In any case, it will extend Google's reach into the developing world, beyond the tanking economies of the west.

  36. Ivan Headache


    Well excuse me for knowing about places in southern England. I also know about places in France and Holland and Germany - Oh yes and Lancashire!

    Did I mention anything about being a southerner - or is that a conclusion you just jumped to - I might be a Dutchman for all you know.

    If I were you, I'd get some Boddingtons down your throat before you choke on an errant apostrophe.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @Ken BW2

    Eh? WTF was that about?

    So people can't mention local landmarks now without some northerner getting all hot and bothered under his flat cap.

    I personally recommend looking at the image of Parc Andre Malraux in Nanterre, Ile-de-France, for hi-res aerial photography. You can practically see the individual ducks in the pond!

    Paris.... because Nanterre is in the suburbs.

  38. Anonymous Coward

    @Mike Green

    You do realise that was the Australian Winter, don't you? We're currently in Spring, and summer is definitely on it's way ....

  39. Anonymous Coward

    So let me get this right ...

    I post an Australia-is-good-Britain-isn't bait comment and all I get is this the lousy, half-baked response? What ever happened to British fighting spirit?

    Actually, I think I know the answer to that one - Gordon Brown.

    (Apologies for posting this comment against the wrong article first time around ..... but, hey, you didn't notice, so ...)

  40. mike

    @Tim Robson

    You have your satellites pointing the wrong way - imagine what we'd see if the NSA pointed it's satellites up - ET would have been found years ago. Hubble was the first time they actually pointed a good camera away from earth, from space. Before that, they were always peering down.

  41. Anonymous Coward

    Google aerial data was replaced with older stuff

    The aerial photos of my area on Google earth/maps used to show the concrete slab the Portakabin that is my office sits on. This slab was poured in summer 2004. Then, a couple of years ago the imagery was replaced with much older stuff - the slab - let alone my Portakabin - isn't there. So looking around the imagery of my workplace I found the motor I owned for 3 months 10 years ago. They never said anything about this and I assumed the more recent imagery was going to be for the paid version which it wasn't.

  42. Anonymous Coward

    @ Anonymous Aussie

    My wife is Aussie and she never quits whingeing. I'm not a Pom but if I was I wouldn't whinge half as much as she does.

    Also, while you were busy posting replies on the wrong story for us all to not notice, you seem to have missed at least one non half-baked response to your original bait-post. That said, you could be forgiven for it having passed through your consciousness unnoticed, as it concluded with mention of gold medals or something? (Australian question intonation added for your reading ease.)

    I'll see your Gordon Brown and raise you a Teflon John Howard.

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