New Satellite To Serve Google Earth

    September 19, 2007

Google’s got a new satellite, and it’s watching you.  Or, to be more accurate, DigitalGlobe’s got a new satellite, it’s watching everything, and the resulting imagery will wind up in Google Earth.

WorldView-1, which was launched yesterday, represents an all-around improvement over what was previously available.  DigitalGlobe calls WorldView-1 “the most agile satellite ever flown commercially,” and states, “WorldView-1 will have an average revisit time of 1.7 days and will be capable of collecting up to 750,000 square kilometers (290,000 square miles) per day of half-meter imagery.”

In more accessible terms, that translates to an area the size of Chile.  Once WorldView-2 gets going – a launch should take place in 2008 – the pair will be able to cover an area on par with Mongolia.

Unfortunately, users of Google Earth probably shouldn’t expect to see much new material in the near future.  Even though WorldView-1 is already up, the Google Earth Blog’s Frank Taylor notes, “[I]t typically takes about 6 months for a satellite to be fully tested after its launch before new data becomes available for use.”

Taylor later continues, “It will still be typically several weeks to a few months before new data is put into Google Earth.  In addition, the satellite is still dependent on having the right weather conditions before getting a good photo (no clouds, haze, smoke, dust, right angle of the sun) worth putting into Google Earth.”

So hold onto your hats.  And if they’re big enough – think 20-inch sombreros – they may be visible in Google Earth at some point.