Want to use some damning images from Google Earth to back up your case in a lawsuit? Right now it's not quite that easy. Which is why a satellite imaging specialist and space lawyer (actual thing) have just formed what is about to become every NASA-loving kid's dream job: the world's very first space detective agency.
Dubbed Air & Space Evidence Ltd of London, the agency is Raymond Harris and Raymond Purdy's attempt at giving the public the means to produce lawful satellite-based evidence in court. Because these photos can provide the proof people need in everything from homeowner boundary disputes to lawsuits over environmental assaults (illegal logging, for instance). As New Scientist explains:
"Trials have been collapsing because courts cannot be convinced of the authenticity of image data," says Purdy. For instance, people cannot be sure a given satellite was working on the day in question, or that the area of land imaged is actually the land at issue.
Plus, as we all know, it's all too easy to alter digital images after the fact, so in order for an image to stand up in a court of law, it needs to come with a lot of data to backup its validity. Elaborating, Harris said "you need strong archiving procedures plus information on when it was captured and what happened to it subsequently."
And where satellite images just won't do (read: cases that require higher resolution shots), the pair plans to put their very own team of drones to work. So for times when, say, a case requires a shot of a specific licence plate number, the space detectives will have to lean on the aerial drone footage option.
Still, especially in these early days, the majority of the work will come find them hunting down images from orbiting satellites run by startups like Skybox Imaging, which has recently been attempting to make its very own real-time Google Earth of sorts. And with access to these kinds of databases becoming increasingly less expensive, you can bet this won't be the only set of space detectives for long. [New Scientist via Digg]
Picture: Google Earth