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WorldView-3 Satellite Delivers First Super-Hi-Res Images

DigitalGlobe's WorldView-3 satellite has sent back its first ultra-high-resolution views of Earth less than two weeks after its launch.
Image: A wide view of a section of Madrid captured by a new DigitalGlobe satellite, WorldView-3.
This picture shows a wide-angle view of a section of Madrid, Spain, captured by DigitalGlobe's WorldView-3 satellite. DigitalGlobe downgraded the image resolution to comply with regulatory requirements.DigitalGlobe

The world's most powerful commercial Earth-imaging satellite was launched less than two weeks ago, but DigitalGlobe's WorldView-3 spacecraft is already sending back ultra-high-resolution pictures of cars with their doors left open and dump trucks that have clearly emptied their loads.

The resolution is so ultra-high, in fact, that the federal government isn't allowing DigitalGlobe to release the pictures at their best just yet. Due to regulatory restrictions, they have to be downgraded from a resolution of 12 inches per pixel to a fuzzier 15 inches per pixel (30 to 40 centimeters per pixel) until Feb. 21, 2015.

The pictures released on Tuesday were taken as WorldView-3 soared 383 miles (617 kilometers) over Madrid, Spain. It's easy to count the cars in a parking lot, and skilled analysts could even identify which types of cars they're looking at. Pictures of airplanes on a runway reveal the identification numbers, and a picture from a construction site shows what the trucks are carrying.

In the past, DigitalGlobe's satellite images have been used to track activity at Iranian nuclear facilities or North Korean launch pads. WorldView-3 will provide even sharper views of such sites, plus super-spectral imaging of agricultural areas, archaeological hot spots and your own backyard. You can look forward to seeing the difference in commercial databases such as Google Earth and Bing Maps.

A close-up focuses on a section of Madrid, Spain, imaged by DigitalGlobe's WorldView-3 satellite.DigitalGlobe
The camera on DigitalGlobe's WorldView-3 satellite focused on a residential section of Madrid, Spain.DigitalGlobe