Satellite Images, GeoSpatial Data, Earth Views

Lift Restrictions on Satellite Imagery

Lifts Restrictions on Satellite Imagery

Satellite imagery provider DigitalGlobe (currently MAXAR) has made a request for the US government to lift restrictions on the pixel resolution of available commercial satellite imagery to better compete against non-US-based companies.

DigitalGlobe argues that the quality of commercial aerial photography — like images available on Google and Bing map websites — is in more than 90 countries at 5-centimeter resolution. These images are taken from an aircraft, not a satellite.

The petition was made to the Commerce Department and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to lift restrictions that limit the quality of commercially available satellite images to 0.5-meter resolution.

Without the waiver, US government agencies and strategic partners will be the only customers allowed access to the highest-resolution images.

The request was made on May 14, 2013, but has yet to receive a ruling. Astrium(currently AIRBUS Defence and Space) has also requested a lift from the French government. Astrium’s Pleiades 1A/1B satellite offers satellite imagery at 0.5-meter resolution.

Other satellite sensors at 0.5m resolution include MAXAR’s WorldView-2, WorldView-1, GeoEye-1, and the new and upcoming launch in 2014 of WorldView-3 will provide a resolution of 0.31 meters.

Allowing higher-resolution satellite imagery to commercial customers will help the US maintain a technological edge over foreign companies.