back to article Just when you thought you were alone in the bath: Hi-res mapping satellite ready for launch

An American firm is preparing to launch a satellite which will map the world in a higher resolution than the public has ever seen before. Tomorrow, DigitalGlobe expects to send its WorldView-3 satellite into orbit, where it will begin sending images of objects as small as 30cm in size. It will zoom up to space from Vandenberg …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    >Happily, you need not worry about being captured in your full glory.

    Speak for yourself, I'm keeping my trunks on while out sunbathing.

    1. stanimir

      Re: 30cm?

      On a plus side the trunks keep the UV light out that's (probably) more dangerous than the reflected visible light resulting in sub-30cm imagery.

      On a flip side I wonder about the infamous zoom/enhance technology and if that would allow those sub-30cm full glory members to be visible.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 30cm?

        "On a flip side I wonder about the infamous zoom/enhance technology and if that would allow those sub-30cm full glory members to be visible."

        Sure, if seeing humongous pixels is what yer wantin'...

    2. TitterYeNot

      Re: 30cm?

      "Speak for yourself, I'm keeping my trunks on while out sunbathing."

      I'm sorry, but if yours is visible from space, then you've actually got a trunk in your trunks and you need to go and see a urologist.

      Alternatively, you could make a small fortune as a novelty act with your nearest travelling circus...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 30cm?

        "nearest travelling circus" ????? You've just made my head throb, and I'm talking about the one on my sholders.

      2. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

        Re: 30cm?

        obligatory and applicable trunk reference. Mildly NSFW language.

        One of comedian Buddy Hackett's best bits

  2. Mintyboy


    "It is expected to launch on Wednesday 12 August or Thursday 13 August, depending on the weather."

    Round these parts its Tuesday 12th, Wednesday 13th, Thursday 14th... This year at least...

    Or will the higher resolution be able to break the time dimensions...

    Mines the one with the sonic screwdriver and the tin hat on a string..

    1. Caesarius

      Re: Dates??

      Left your tin hat on the coat stand? Rookie mistake.

      I'll get my coat, and yours.

  3. Neil 44

    Linear or area

    "begin taking snapshots of approximately 680,000km of the Earth every single day."

    Do you mean 680,000km2 ? or is it really a linear measurement, in which case how wide is the strip it photographs?

  4. Caesarius

    What's the point

    I'm struggling to think of uses for this resolution, apart from military ones. There's also the refresh rate to specify. And who will pay for a licence to use it?

    I've found something by the Earth Imaging Journal: oil, gas or mineral exploration will pay good money for images, and the higher resolution is good for the required detailed analysis. But otherwise, who will pay lots of money for these:

    Geological studies, cliff erosion. 1m, monthly or less frequent

    Geological studies, glacier movement. >1m, yearly

    Animal population distribution. 1m but possibly less, monthly or yearly

    Weather. >10m, daily

    Policing (environmental): mining, settlement, building, deforestation. 1m, yearly or more frequent

    Policing safety concerns: oil spills, toxic waste, fires. <10m, weekly (or more frequent?)

    Policing: mass graves/genocide. <1m, monthly

    Enlighten me!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm struggling to think of uses for this resolution, apart from military ones.

      I'm quite sure storage vendors and Big Data Prophets will be able to find "uses" for this.

      1. Caesarius

        Re: Big Data Prophets

        As for the Big Data Prophets, whereas I can see they want some Big Data to play with, I don't know how they will afford that much data. Perhaps it's all Wizard of Oz, smoke and mirrors, the Big Data TV Evangelists asking for investment, but for ill-specified returns.

        (I think the storage vendors will be among those who are hoping for sales of satellite images, rather than those paying for the images themselves.)

    2. JeffyPoooh

      Re: What's the point

      Checking my roof for missing shingles, without bothering to get out the ladder.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: What's the point

      "I'm struggling to think of uses for this resolution, apart from military ones. "

      I use Google Earth very often to track down places where good x-country hiking can be found. Really sharp images will better reveal the condition of road and trail surfaces (or lack of same), vegetation types, and many other little features that could make a difference. I'm looking forward to it!

    4. Purple-Stater

      Re: What's the point

      Re: "Enlighten me"


  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    We now need to work out how to encrypt the contents of a subway sandwich. I dont want the government to gather data on my favourite could be used to bribe me.


    You: Do you expect me to talk?

    Gov: No Mr Jones, I expect you to dine. Agent Ramsay retrieve...the sandwich.

    Agent R: F****** c***! Yes sir! B*******!

    You: Oh dear god nooooooo!

    Agent R: Eat the f****** sandwich you f****** s*** eating t***. Give us the f****** codes you w*****. B*******!. *force feeds Italian BMT*

    Me: Mmff nom ummf nom no! Mmff nom ill numph-ver speak nom. *wretch*.

    Ladies and gentleman enter the Guantanamo Bistro. Where you get a 3 course interrogation. A light starter of heavy rope contacting balls through a seatless chair with your choice of knot on the end, followed by a generous helping of solitary closely followed up with a traditional cheese boarding and finished with a cuban cyanide cigar with a polonium libre cocktail served with a gratutious beating.

    Invite only. Contact details unavailable. A spokesman at launch refused to acknowledge or deny its existence but was quoted as saying "I have nothing to add".

    Soldier of Fortune rated this establishment as 4 grenades out of 5. The most challenging meal they never remembered.

    Previously removed from Ramsays Kitchen Nightmares for actually being a nightmare.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I want my subway sandwich...

      ...with a side order of whatever you're having to drink.

    2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: 30cm?

      manfrommars1, there's little point you posting anonymously!

    3. Michael 28

      Re: 30cm?

      In england , the equivalent is "Hawaiian food served in a Medieval Dungeon atmosphere"!!

      You lucky, LUCKY b@stards! That's favouritism, that is!

  6. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    rule of thumb

    If the government admits/allows a 30cm resolution then it's a reasonable certainty that the mil-spec equipment can deliver at least four times better resolution.

    Oh, and by they way - wearing your swimming trunks while sunbathing will not help - they also scan in the IR band.

  7. Elmer Phud

    how long before . . .

    . . . the first post of 'Hey, mine's so big you can see it from spaaaaace!'

    1. Ged T

      Re: how long before . . .

      Don't mean to brag but I've done it, already, within the era of existing tech...

    2. kmac499

      Re: how long before . . .

      You wouldn't be Mister Cerne Abbas of Dorset would you ..???

      The well known (ahem) double Club wielding giant of the chalky hillside..

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The gubmint's mapping satellites

    are probably able to resolve down to 5 cm. So put your tinfoil clothing on.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who says they can?

    "The non-military firm is only allowed to do this following Washington's decision to relax rules governing the maximum resolution of satellite images."

    So, the merkins think they can give permission for someone to take photos of the entire world... who made them the boss of the world?

    1. jabuzz

      Re: Who says they can?

      Given DigitalGlobe are a U.S. based firm and that they are launching for a polar orbit from a U.S. military base I think it is perfectly reasonable for the U.S. government to limit what they are doing.

      Want to set up a company outside the U.S.A., build your satellite outside the U.S.A. and using components that are not under U.S.A. export restrictions and then launch using none U.S.A. launch vehicles outside the U.S.A. you would be good to go selling what ever resolution imagery you want. That is presuming other governments don't also put restrictions on what you want to sell...

      1. Caesarius

        Re: Who says they can?

        Of course! The main customer is the military, but the company is allowed to make a little more money by selling data elsewhere, and the military will probably want a discount.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In one pass, the resolution isn't a concern, but images from multiple passes can be combined to improve the resolution if the object of interest isn't moving - astronomers have been doing that for ages, and no doubt the spooks and their satellite operating buddies know how too.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Same way Oppo Find 7 creates 50 Mp images.

  11. HereWeGoAgain


    "Previously, space companies were only allowed to sell images of objects smaller than 50cm to the US government or military."

    I think that is meant to read 'American space companies'. America does not own space.

    1. CaptainBanjax

      Re: Hmmm

      No they dont own it...but they will attempt to police it.

      The RIAA is already preparing itself to retrospectively sue everyone that has broadcasted anything, ever. The further out into space our radio leakage gets the larger the number of possible extraterrestrials there are to sue.

      I for one cant wait for the massive influx of tax from UK TV licensing. We've been broadcasting for decades thats a lot of free TV the aliens have had...its an outrage. On the flipside they will have trouble when the digital switchover happens for them...

      1. CaptainBanjax

        Re: Hmmm

        Further to that. If SETI manages to find a signal and they record it without permission from the broadcaster, is that piracy?

  12. Barely registers
    Black Helicopters

    25cm limit

    If I read it right, 25cm resolution is the limit "for sale".

    I find myself wondering what the _actual_ capability of these sats is?

    Fetching coat, and hat, and dark sunglasses.

  13. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Objects as small as 30cm

    Is 30cm the resolution limit, the pixel size or the size of an arbitrary object that can be recognised in the image?

    Resolution limit means the ability to resolve a pair of high contrast lines not less than that wide, pixel size is typically a quarter to a ninth of the area of the minimum resolvable dot. Neither mean that objects of this size could be recognised from the images. I would guess that the size of a minimum recognisable object is more likely to be in the order of 1.5-3 meters.

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