Next month, a commercial satellite named the GeoEye-1 will go into the Earth's orbit. Its highest resolution photos—shots that will spot a 40cm beachball—will be reserved for military use. However, slightly lower resolution imagery will be made available in the commercial sector, like Google Earth.
Military imagery can resolve images as small as .17 square meters. Commercial limitations are about double that size at .36 square meters. The new satellite will be able to capture 700,000 square kilometers a day (which Technology Review points out is roughly the size of Texas).
But the best news is that GeoEye already sells shots to Yahoo, Google and Microsoft that we get to see through their various mapping portals. In other words, we'll soon be getting a free upgrade to our favourite satellite imaging services. Good stuff. So watch the cleavage, ladies, lest you be an unwilling accomplice to the rapidly growing satellite voyeur trend. (Note: if such sites actually exist, please email tips...for research purposes.)