Google Earth gets a new space eye

Maybe now I’ll be able to find more weather stations from Google Earth imagery. This spacecraft is an even better versions of Ikonos, with better resolution and color.

Note to all you gals out there: sunbathing in the back yard just got a bit less private.

From Reuters, excerpt:

GeoEye launches high-resolution satellite

Sat Sep 6, 2008 6:39pm EDT

Liftoff from Vandenberg

By Andrea Shalal-Esa

WASHINGTON, Sept 6 (Reuters) – GeoEye Inc said it successfully launched into space on Saturday its new GeoEye-1 satellite, which will provide the U.S. government, Google Earth users and others the highest-resolution commercial color satellite imagery on the market.

“It was a picture-perfect launch and we’ve now gotten confirmation that … we have commanded the satellite and it has responded,” GeoEye Chief Executive Matthew O’Connell told Reuters in a telephone interview from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, where the satellite was launched at 11:50 a.m. PDT (1850 GMT).

“Everybody is now slapping high fives,” he said, adding that it would take 30 to 45 days before the company calibrates the camera aboard the satellite and receives imagery.

GeoEye-1 will be able to capture images at .41 metres (16 inches) resolution in black and white and 1.65 metres (5.5 feet) in color, but under current government rules, the company can only offer the public half-metre (1.64 feet) images.

The satellite will take digital images of the Earth from 423 miles (681 km) and moving at a speed of about 4 1/2 miles (7 km) per second.

O’Connell said the $502 million satellite, built partly with money from the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, would “open up a lot of opportunities” for the GeoEye, and capped four years of work on the spacecraft.

Spacecraft details and photo:

GeoEye will again make history with the upcoming launch of GeoEye-1—the world’s highest resolution commercial earth-imaging satellite.

GeoEye-1 will be equipped with the most sophisticated technology ever used in a commercial satellite system. It will offer unprecedented spatial resolution by simultaneously acquiring 0.41-meter panchromatic and 1.65-meter multispectral imagery. The detail and geospatial accuracy of GeoEye-1 imagery will further expand applications for satellite imagery in every commercial and government market sector. To learn more about GeoEye’s collection and delivery capabilities, please visit our launch site.

GEOEYE-1 Specifications
Spatial Resolution 0.41 meters x 1.65 meters
Spectral Range 450–800 nm

450–510 nm (blue)

510–580 nm (green)

655–690 nm (red)

780–920 nm (near IR)

Swath Width 15.2 km
Off-Nadir Imaging Up to 60 degrees
Dynamic Range 11 bits per pixel
Mission Life Expected > 10 years
Revisit Time Less than 3 days
Orbital Altitude 681 km
Nodal Crossing 10:30 a.m.

GeoEye-1 / IKONOS Imagery Comparison

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20 thoughts on “Google Earth gets a new space eye

  1. This sort of thing just peeves me. When I covered VAFB in the mid-90s, just about every launch was in the middle of the night. This one was shortly before noon?!

  2. Don’t know the carbon footprint but you must realize most of that “smoke” at launch is steam. There water pumped under the pad to dissipate the heat.

  3. IF most of the “smoke” IS steam… that is still a huge problem since water vapor is the most potent greenhouse gas.

  4. Now here’s a topic I can speak to. (I used to be in the propellants business.) Rocket motors are either liquid and/or solid fueled. In most cases, ~80% of the mass of the propellant is oxidizer such as liquid oxygen, hydrogen peroxide, inhibited red fuming nitric acid (for the liquids) and ammonium perchlorate, nitrates or even high explosive particles for the oxidizers. The fuels can be as benign as alchohols or kerosene, crygenic hydrogen, some hydrazines (for liquids) and rubbery binders or aluminum powders for the solids. The delta has Liq H2 + Liq O2 main engines leaving water and several strap on solid rocket motors putting out some CO2, Hydrochoric Acid, Nitrogen, Aluminum Oxide, among other things. The hydrochoric acid can lead to quite corrosive precipitation should it rain shortly after a launch. So what does all this mean? Just like global warming, the CO2 is the least of your environmental impact problems.

  5. For some reason, I thought that the original reason that NASA and other started to study the atmosphere and Global Warming was for an environmental impact study for the space shuttle, as well as the effect of Nuclear weapons. This fear of the climatic effects of nuclear weapons and space going rockets was driving the fears back in the 1950-70s of the nuclear summer and the nuclear winter where we were going to destroy the entire Earth through use of nuclear bombs.
    I could wrong, but I believe that I have read something to that effect.

  6. Would I be incorrect in wagering on a Chinese “error” in terminating this satellite? That country has a voluminous history of faux-diplomatic measures designed to short-circuit the naive wishes of liberals.

  7. Johnnyb (22:23:49) :
    You remembered correctly. Or at least you remember one of the possible consequences of a nuclear war. It very well could have been one of the reasons for studying the climate.
    Carl Sagan was one who projected a nuclear winter as a result of the dust thrown up by a nuclear exchange.
    I always thought the idea was rather silly to bring up. After all, if the death of hundreds of millions of people was not reason enough to cancel a nuclear war, some chilly temps after the war would not be persuasive.
    In any event, the following his from the Carl Sagan entry in Wikipedia:
    ^ Turco RP, Toon OB, Ackerman TP, Pollack JB, Sagan C. Climate and smoke: an appraisal of nuclear winter, Science, volume 247, pages 166-176 (1990). PubMed abstract JSTOR link to full text article. Carl Sagan discussed his involvement in the political nuclear winter debates and his erroneous global cooling prediction for the Gulf War fires in his book, The Demon-Haunted World.
    Speaking of Carl Sagan, his portal website has some good points people should keep in mind about scientific debates and the improper use of logic in such debates.
    From http://www.carlsagan.com:
    Baloney Detection Kit
    Warning signs that suggest deception. Based on the book by Carl Sagan, The Demon Haunted World. The following are suggested as tools for testing arguments and detecting fallacious or fraudulent arguments:
    Wherever possible there must be independent confirmation of the facts.
    Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view.
    Arguments from authority carry little weight (in science there are no “authorities”).
    Spin more than one hypothesis – don’t simply run with the first idea that caught your fancy.
    Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it’s yours.
    Quantify, wherever possible.
    If there is a chain of argument every link in the chain must work.
    Occam’s razor – if there are two hypotheses that explain the data equally well choose the simpler.
    Ask whether the hypothesis can, at least in principle, be falsified (shown to be false by some unambiguous test). In other words, it is testable? Can others duplicate the experiment and get the same result?
    Additional issues are:
    Conduct control experiments – especially “double blind” experiments where the person taking measurements is not aware of the test and control subjects.
    Check for confounding factors – separate the variables.
    Common fallacies of logic and rhetoric
    Ad hominem – attacking the arguer and not the argument.
    Argument from “authority”.
    Argument from adverse consequences (putting pressure on the decision maker by pointing out dire consequences of an “unfavorable” decision).
    Appeal to ignorance (absence of evidence is not evidence of absence).
    Special pleading (typically referring to god’s will).
    Begging the question (assuming an answer in the way the question is phrased).
    Observational selection (counting the hits and forgetting the misses).
    Statistics of small numbers (such as drawing conclusions from inadequate sample sizes).
    Misunderstanding the nature of statistics (President Eisenhower expressing astonishment and alarm on discovering that fully half of all Americans have below average intelligence!)
    Inconsistency (e.g. military expenditures based on worst case scenarios but scientific projections on environmental dangers thriftily ignored because they are not “proved”).
    Non sequitur – “it does not follow” – the logic falls down.
    Post hoc, ergo propter hoc – “it happened after so it was caused by” – confusion of cause and effect.
    Meaningless question (“what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?).
    Excluded middle – considering only the two extremes in a range of possibilities (making the “other side” look worse than it really is).
    Short-term v. long-term – a subset of excluded middle (“why pursue fundamental science when we have so huge a budget deficit?”).
    Slippery slope – a subset of excluded middle – unwarranted extrapolation of the effects (give an inch and they will take a mile).
    Confusion of correlation and causation.
    Caricaturing (or stereotyping) a position to make it easier to attack.
    Suppressed evidence or half-truths.
    Weasel words – for example, use of euphemisms for war such as “police action” to get around limitations on Presidential powers. “An important art of politicians is to find new names for institutions which under old names have become odious to the public”
    (excerpted from The Planetary Society Australian Volunteer Coordinators Prepared by Michael Paine )

  8. «Do those ‘government rules’ apply to the non-american public?»
    Ah! Great question! Obviously not, but:
    (1) GeoEye is a US company
    (2) Google is a US company
    (3) Vandenberg is a federal US facility
    (4) The satellite was built partially with US taxpayer funds
    Back when the Russians were poor, they were selling high-res pics: it was the glorious ’90s. Was that the wedge that pried open public access to high-res imagery?

  9. In his defense, shortly before his death, Sagan did admit that his fear of nuclear winter was excessive. He had suggested that as few as 50 nukes could trigger disaster (apart from the immediate one). After the first gulf war, with the oil field fires and little measurable effect, Carl shifted his position. That’s a degree of pragmatism the climate alarmists could learn from.
    I have mixed feelings about GeoEye. I suspect those who wish this country ill are quite happy with the new satellite, as long as they can have access.

  10. ack Simmons (02:34:29) :

    Carl Sagan was one who projected a nuclear winter as a result of the dust thrown up by a nuclear exchange.

    It was actually smoke from burning cities and forests that was supposed to be the cause, as noted in your reference. His group started out with a computer model using dust and found it didn’t cause the expected effect. They kept upping the ante until they got “nuclear winter”. I remember watching a talk by Sagan gave on PBS and, since I was a fan of his, was very impressed. I became disillusioned when I started reading critiques of the work.
    This was what has fueled my skepticism of catastrophic AGW once I found out it was based on computer models, even though they’re much more sophisticated than what Sagan was supposedly using. If you know what the answer is your model will eventually give it to you.

  11. BarryW (08:03:30) :
    You are right about the smoke, rather than dust, being the factor used by Sagan. I used the term dust in a generic sort of way, a cover all for all types of particulates put into the atmosphere.
    Carl Sagan had a big impact on people’s thinking and when he postulated a nuclear winter, a lot of people bought into it as a possibility. This possibility became a forgone conclusion in many people’s thinking long after the models were discredited.
    I share with you the skepticism regarding computer models. I’ve spent my whole professional life working with computers giving the wrong answers. Hours can be spent tracking down a small error in an accounting package, which is nothing more than a model of a company’s financial status. And accounting is a man made set of rules we supposedly understand.
    I do see people violate the rules Sagan outlines for good critical thinking all the time in these warming versus cooling debates. And on both sides.

  12. CookevilleWeatherGuy (05:58:03) :

    I agree…it is FUN finding those weather stations! Especially when big events like TS Hannah occur. Found one station with 9.14″ of rain in last 24 hours! WOW…

    Agree with whom? Oh, you’re just hyping your site. Never mind. 0.1 brownie point
    for being in Al Gore’s state.

  13. I did some work on that satellite before bailing for a better opportunity. Glad to hear it got up there finally.

  14. Pingback: GeoEye launches high-resolution (Google) satellite « Ignorance Is Futile!

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