Google-sponsored satellite sends first image

First photo taken by the GeoEye-1 SatelliteWASHINGTON (AFP) — A Google-sponsored satellite has beamed its first picture back to Earth in a successful test of a camera that will supply images for the Internet giant’s free online map and navigation services.

The high-resolution color image from GeoEye-1, which was launched September 6 from a US air force base in California, was of a university campus in Pennsylvania, satellite operator GeoEye Inc. said in a statement.

The Dulles, Virginia-based company provided a link to the image at its website:

The picture of the Kutztown University campus was taken on Tuesday while the satellite was in a 423-mile-high (681 km) orbit over the East Coast of the United States, GeoEye said.

“We expect the quality of the imagery to be even better as we continue the calibration activity,” said Brad Peterson, GeoEye‘s vice president of operations.

GeoEye-1‘s main client is the US government’s mapping arm, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, but Google is a major sponsor of the 500-million-dollar satellite and has exclusive commercial rights to its images.

“We are pleased to release the first GeoEye-1 image, bringing us even closer to the start of the satellite’s commercial operations and sales to our customers,” said GeoEye chief executive Matthew O’Connell.

Because of national security concerns, GeoEye-1‘s government clients will receive higher resolution photos than commercial clients such as Google, which plans to use the images on its popular Google Maps and Google Earth programs.

The satellite imagery from GeoEye-1 will be of a higher resolution and better quality than what is currently available on Google Maps and Google Earth.

The GeoEye-1 venture is not Google‘s only trip into space.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin is a space buff and has booked a seat on a flight to the International Space Station with the company Space Adventures, which plans to take space tourists to the orbiting space station beginning in 2011.

Original from Google-sponsored satellite sends first image


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