To understand how images make it from satellites in orbit to Google Earth, you should take a look at Frank’s excellent about Google Earth imagery post from a few years ago. In short, Google doesn’t own any satellites that capture imagery; they buy the imagery from providers such as DigitalGlobe.
With that in mind, Richard Hollingham of the BBC took a trip to Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado, where the WorldView-3 satellite is currently being assembled for DigitalGlobe.
WorldView-3 will be able to capture imagery at a remarkable resolution of just 25cm, though only the US government can purchase imagery that detailed. For Google Earth (and similar mapping projects, such as Bing Maps), the imagery will be released at a resolution of 50cm. As the article points out, from more than 600km away, travelling at around eight kilometres per second, capturing an image half-a-metre across is an impressive technical achievement, and is less likely to raise concerns about privacy.
It’s an excellent article that shows a bit more about how things work in regards to satellite imagery, and I recommend you check out the full story for yourself.
About Mickey Mellen
Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.
What a crock, what “law” states that the US government should have a monopoly on use of the highest resolution images? That demands a legal challenge.