News / Science & Technology

Newly Launched Commercial Satellite Has Zoom View of Earth

FILE - An Atlas 5 rocket carrying a satellite is launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.FILE - An Atlas 5 rocket carrying a satellite is launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
x
FILE - An Atlas 5 rocket carrying a satellite is launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
FILE - An Atlas 5 rocket carrying a satellite is launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Reuters

An unmanned Atlas 5 rocket blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Wednesday to put a sharp-eyed, Earth-watching satellite into orbit for DigitalGlobe.

The 60-meter (188-foot) booster, built and flown by United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co, lifted off at 11:30 a.m. (1830 GMT) and headed south over the Pacific Ocean.

About 20 minutes later, the rocket's upper-stage deposited the 6,200-pound (2,800-kg) WorldView-3 satellite into a 600-km (380-mile) polar orbit. At that altitude, WorldView-3 is capable of seeing individual trees in a forest and identifying cars by their windshields.

“Imagine that you were in San Francisco. With the capabilities of this satellite we could see home plate in Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. We can see the players in the field ... We could even count empty seats,” DigitalGlobe Vice President Neil Anderson said in an interview during a live launch webcast.

Longmont, Colorado-based DigitalGlobe has been selling images of Earth and data to government agencies, commercial companies, agricultural groups and research organizations since 2000. WorldView-3 will become the sixth member of the company's orbital network.

In addition to being able to image objects as small as about one foot (30 cm) in diameter, the $500 million satellite, built by Ball Corp, has new sensors that can see through smoke and atmospheric haze.

“We can tell you what kind of trees are in the forest ... We can tell you what crops are growing, whether they are growing well, whether they're diseased, what the moisture content is in the soil. We can determine man-made objects. We can determine types of roads. We can actually see mineral content on the ground,” Anderson said.

DigitalGlobe is not the only company in the remote-sensing business. Google in June announced it was buying Skybox Imaging of Mountain View, California, which plans to operate a fleet of 24 small satellites that capture high-resolution images and video.

Another Silicon Valley startup, privately-owned Planet Labs, is launching shoebox-sized imaging satellites from aboard the International Space Station. The company plans to operate a constellation of 131 satellites by mid-2015. The U.S. government also has its Landsat program, which began in 1972.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs