WordView-3, the super-powerful commercial satellite that launched two weeks ago, is now sending images back to Earth. The satellite is remarkable for its ability to collect images sharp down to a scale of 11.8 inches, which is enough for it to tell a tomato plant from a shrub and a sedan from an SUV.
“You can actually definitely see (car) windshields,” DigitalGlobe director of next generation products Kumar Navulur said before the launch. “We can actually tell you whether it’s a truck or an SUV or a regular car. We can identify pictures of a baseball diamond.”
The first images released by the satellite’s operator DigitalGlobe depict an airport and neighborhoods in Madrid. In the airport images, airplanes, luggage trailers and activity like refueling or opening a hatch are visible.
The neighborhood images show how easy it is to count items like pools, cars and even individual trees.
DigitalGlobe actually had to edit the images to be less sharp than it is capable of producing. In June it became legal for the company to release images accurate at the 15.75 inch scale or above. Images at WorldView-3’s full 11.8 inch capability won’t be allowed until next year, when images down to 9.84 inches will be accepted.
WorldView-3 is capable of imaging nearly the size of Texas each day. It won’t be long before it passes over your town, so be sure to get your tomato plants photo-ready.