Last week DigitalGlobe announced that they are now selling the new 30cm imagery to customers. Until recently it was actually illegal for US companies to sell satellite imagery at this resolution. As we have noted in the past, aerial imagery is typically of similar or better resolution and is not subject to that restriction, but for global coverage and bulk image capturing satellites work out much more cost effective.
DigitalGlobe has available for download six sample images. For your convenience we have put them into Google Earth image overlays which you can view with this KML file. For best results turn off the ‘3D Buildings’ layer.
A few notes on the sample images:
- The image from Pudong, Shanghai, China is actually already in Google Earth and was captured on December 18, 2014.
The default imagery for Auckland, New Zealand is slightly better quality than the DigitalGlobe image, but that is because it is aerial imagery that was captured in 2012 as part of the Auckland 3D imagery.
The image from Kalgoorlie Mine, Australia, is of noticeably better quality than the default imagery in Google Earth which is from 2013.
The default imagery in Google Earth for Sao Paulo, Brazil is actually newer than the sample image although not quite as good quality as the sample.
Left: 30cm sample image dated September 10, 2014. Right: Default Google Earth image from October 17, 2014.
Another interesting story from DigitalGlobe is that on January 27, 2015 they retired their imaging satellite QuickBird after 13 years in orbit. For the full story and to see QuickBird’s last image see the DigitalGlobe blog article.