GeoEye-1, the world’s highest-resolution commercial satellite sponsored by Google, took this image recently, it’s first high-res image of Earth. As Wired notes,
Even though the GeoEye-1 satellite sports a colorful Google sticker, its key customer is actually not Google but rather the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, a U.S. government agency that analyzes imagery in support of national security. The NGA is paying for half of the development of the $502 million satellite and has committed to purchasing imagery from it. Google is GeoEye’s second major partner. “This is the opposite of a spy satellite,” Brender said in a phone interview. “Spies don’t put info on the internet and sell imagery. We’re an Earth-imaging satellite, and we can sell our imagery to customers around the world who have a need to map and measure and monitor things on the ground.”
Despite the vacuous semantic spin by Mark Brender, GeoEye’s vice president of communications and marketing (and I think spies *do* put information on the internet and sell imagery – ever heard of steganography?!) the fact that high-res imagery will find its way to Google’s geo-mapping tools such as Google Earth and Google Maps can only be good news for vital initiatives such as Eyes on Darfur and more recently, satellite imagery that revealed the destruction of villages in Georgia.