GeoEye view
August 26th, 2011
11:55 AM ET

View from the sky

Have you ever had the feeling someone’s watching you? Intelligence agencies routinely use satellite images as part of operation planning, but just what can they see from way out there?

CNN's Security Clearance was given unprecedented access to one of the U.S. government’s primary satellite contractors to find out just what they’re able to focus in on and how they do it.

Suzanne Kelly takes you for an exclusive sneak peek inside GeoEye’s sweep room. They won’t name their individual clients, but here’s a hint: you may have seen their handiwork in the aftermath of the Osama bin Laden raid in May.

soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. Homer Zesati

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    May 21, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Reply
  2. Normand Ebling

    Google Images is a search service created by Google and introduced in July 2001, that allows users to search the Web for image content. The keywords for the image search are based on the filename of the image, the link text pointing to the image, and text adjacent to the image. When searching for an image, a thumbnail of each matching image is displayed. When the user clicks on a thumbnail, the image is displayed in a box over the website that it came from. The user can then close the box and browse the website, or view the full-sized image.'"


    May 12, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Reply
  3. computer hacking

    Awesome things here. I'm very happy to see your article. Thank you so much and I am looking forward to touch you. Will you kindly drop me a mail?

    January 9, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Reply
  4. Bob

    Pictures taken in the 60's had better resolution than these photos. Who is CNN trying to kid. If you believe anything that CNN says, you're in trouble. It is the most "mistrusted name in news." I would like to see an aerial phot of Blitzer kissing obama's ass. He does it anyway with everything he says. CNN is obama's mouthpiece.

    September 5, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Reply
    • Wzrd1

      They're only showing commercial satellite shots. NOT US Government ones, such as what the NRO operates.
      In short, the article is a joke. ANYONE can purchase those photos that they rave about.
      Good for making maps, lousy for classified stuff.
      And there are three chances that CNN will ever be permitted to see and report on the classified stuff:
      Slim, fat and none.

      September 5, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Reply
  5. Anon

    We don't need a telescope to see what's on the earth when there are CCTV cameras everywhere, idiots.

    September 3, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Reply
    • Wzrd1

      Except for the FACT that they're NOT everywhere, dolt.
      Hence, why there are still people on the most wanted list, why it took nearly a decade to find OBL and why so many crimes are not recorded on these "everywhere" CCTV cameras.

      September 3, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Reply
  6. grant

    not saying this is relevant or not. You can believe me or not, my father had high security clearance in the late 80s, he claims he could see if a nickle was tails or heads back then.

    August 30, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Reply
    • Wzrd1

      Well, our current capabilities are on a need to know basis.
      And if you had a need to know, you'd already know.
      You know? 😉

      August 30, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Reply
    • icewolf159

      In my day, also the 80's it was the date on a quarter.

      September 1, 2011 at 11:23 am | Reply
    • MeHereYouThere

      I'm watching you lose your hair in realtime now. Matter of fact I can count your hairs on your head and you're down to your last one

      January 10, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Reply
  7. Steve

    "Solar panels control and steer the satellite". What??? Doesn't anyone review and edit anything any more before it gets published? Geez... No wonder this country is falling behind in math and science!

    August 29, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Reply
  8. DrDoITT

    We need satellites that can see 'g a y s' from space so that we can then keep the kids safe.


    August 29, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Reply
    • Reality Check

      Your mom needs to stop having gay kids... Who make gay posts 😉

      August 31, 2011 at 1:54 am | Reply
      • Wzrd1

        I usually ignore the poo poo caca heads, rather than sounding like one... :P:p:P:p:P:p

        August 31, 2011 at 9:32 am |
  9. David, Tampa

    This is the dumbest lie I have ever seen on line..........Jeeeese you CNN morons! I can see a 5 gal bucket in the back of my truck in my driveway on

    August 28, 2011 at 4:48 am | Reply
    • patrico

      Hey you are so right. In 1980 having a top secret clearance i could read 6 inch high letters from the spy satellites. What BS is this.

      August 29, 2011 at 11:58 am | Reply
    • Tim B

      The pictures on Zillow are taken by low flying aircraft, not satellites.

      August 29, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Reply
  10. passportskyking

    The US Gov has a main control point, the control point operator can be contacted via two way and directed
    where to move one of the birds. These activities take place daily and several semi-stationary sats are used. Time has to be reserved for the most part by the agency conducting the ops.

    August 27, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Reply
    • Trippin Out

      Ive been seeing stars or what looks like stars move in all directions and no B.S. {I knoiw this sounds crazy but these things have followed me, they've even been waiting places that i freequent. Not on drugs but thinking about starting, just looking for some imput.

      November 14, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Reply
      • Wzrd1

        Erm, to be brutally honest, even WITH an extradonarily long military career, in which I've been around "things that don't exist" AND had aircraft and UAV's orbiting around...
        Seek mental health care assistance.
        First, satellites can't change course and hover over you. Period. Some physics laws things that congress is outranked on.
        Second, any observation craft wouldn't be lit up OR be reflective.
        Third, you are NOT sufficiently important to be folloowed by anything greater than a fly or the neighborhood dog. Neither am I.
        OK, I'm a BIT more important, some cats occasion my presence...

        November 14, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
  11. danny

    Has Google Earth replaced the image of Shea Stadium with Citifield yet?

    August 27, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Reply
  12. lliam

    I can see a American football's stripes, but I cannot tell you what brand it is; that is how good they are.

    August 27, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Reply
  13. ken

    They caught a guy who kidnapped a little girl down in florida about 7 years ago by using a satellite to look down and read the name tag on his uniform so I am pretty sure they can get very very accurate with looking at almost anything that is not covered over. They also can see with infra red and other spectrums into the ground and notice locations of ancient cities that have been grown over by plants, desert and even under water. So yeah it is pretty awe inspiring and abit unnerving just how much can be seen. Now the only question is why would anyone want to look at you and see whatever deviant crazy thing you are doing that you need to be so nervous about being watched.

    August 27, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Reply
    • Wzrd1

      You didn't mention the synthetic aperture radar, ground penetrating radar and a few other goodies in orbit.
      That said, I don't care if they focus on me, even if I'm on a clothing optional beach. What are they really going to see? My tweaking my wife's butt?
      There's plenty of things that are far more interesting to see from orbit than my ancient self. 🙂

      August 27, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Reply
      • Wendi

        It just shows that China and the US could destroy each other. That's not a bad thing. Mutually Assured Destruction saved the eirtne world during the Cold War with the USSR. By just having the knowledge that we can kill each other, civilized countries, is nothing more than a safety trigger. China can attack the US but won't. The US could attack China, but won't. We're still friends even though we disagree on many things.IMHO, there is nothing to worry about. China is just catching up with what we have had for 20 years, now.

        August 3, 2012 at 5:23 am |
    • Muhammad

      Reading a name tag is a little bit of an exaggeration. The name tage can be read from a horizontal angle not from a vertical one.

      August 28, 2011 at 2:47 am | Reply
    • Richard Hagen

      Because of interference between photons, the maximum resolution of optical devices has finite limits. Unless we've figured out how to orbit a constellation of satellites precisely enough to simulate a larger aperture, which i don't think we, as a species, have accomplished yet, the maximum resolution is limited to sin(angle of maximum resolution) = 1.22 * (wavelength of the light being viewed) / (diameter of the lens or mirror collecting it). This means that if you aimed the Hubble Telescope back at the earth and orbited it as close as you could at a distance of about 160 km (which you would not want to do long because of atmospheric drag) you would only be able to resolve about 2.44cm at an ultraviolet wavelength of 300nm. That would be under perfect conditions which generally can't be obtained in the real World too. Large diameter spy telescopes in space are a known quantity as they are visible to amateur astronomers with even modest scopes thus it would be rather difficult to hide a giant one in near earth orbit. I seriously doubt anyone was reading a name tag on a shirt from images taken with a spy satellite.

      August 30, 2011 at 7:12 am | Reply
  14. LiberalNN

    They can see into your thoughts, man. INTO YOUR THOUGHTS!!!

    August 27, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Reply
    • Butters

      I know . don't let them know that I know ,but I know.

      August 27, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Reply
    • Wzrd1

      Why would they want to read a blank?

      August 27, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Reply
    • Brian


      August 27, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Reply
      • heywood jablowme

        tinfoil hats are useless against the power of the mighty satellites.
        you'd clearly need tinfoil underwear.

        August 27, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
      • Wzrd1

        Shhhhh! Don't give the DoD a new idea to torture the soldiers with!

        August 27, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
  15. Lee S

    Lol that is the CalicoVision of surveillance tech.

    August 27, 2011 at 11:25 am | Reply
  16. Liberty

    This piece barely mentions drones, which being only a few miles up can get a lot better resolution than satellites (and can provide images in real time) The US (or others) could have a small drone circling 10 or 20 miles up and you'd never know it, it'd be almost impossible to spot from the ground even if you knew to look.

    August 27, 2011 at 10:55 am | Reply
    • Brian

      Satellites can zoom in more, they just don't tell you here. It's all part of the program to keep everyone's head buried in the sand.

      It's not just larger drones either. Tiny cameras can be placed just about anywhere... like little flies buzzing around.

      August 27, 2011 at 11:13 am | Reply
      • LiberalNN

        That's certainly the next step they're working towards, if they haven't achieved it already.

        August 27, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
      • MLA

        Dont forget your aluminum foil hat!

        August 27, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
      • dbarak


        No foil hat needed, the tech is already here...


        August 27, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
      • Wzrd1

        "They just don't tell you"... The rail of the paranoid.
        First, there is this stuff called security classifications. You know, SECRETS. Not letting one's adversary know one's capabilities or weaknesses.
        So what if they can see the time on my watch from orbit? That doesn't mean that they ARE checking the time on my watch or even are bored enough to be looking here, in the US, at me.
        Do you HONESTLY THINK THAT YOU ARE *THAT IMPORTANT* that "they" are watching you?
        Hate to burst your bubble, but you are not worth the time of a single exposure of one pixel of one of those imagers.

        August 27, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
      • Dongey KonK

        @the DARPA humming bird vid. They were doing that using rotor based vehicles in the 80's as well. The tech challenge shown in the video is not 'miniature flying spy camera', it is 'flapping wing flight mechanism'. They still haven't overcome the biggest challenges regarding it ... control algorithms (a spy camera that needs an operator to be looking at the operation theater for assessing flight path is no better than a RC helo), power supply, and the biggest one of them all.. overcoming air flow turbulence (winds). Sure, the soldiers could use these to get remote visual access to really tight corners ... say a tunnel, or a labyrinthian village, but besides these uses, many more innovations/inventions are needed before someone can spy on your wife changing clothes.

        August 27, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
      • Richard Hagen

        Because of fundamental limits imposed by the interference of photons, satellites can not zoom in to read newspapers or such. A drone at 10 km altitude would only have to have a lens about 15cm in diameter to be capable of achieving the same resolution as the Hubble Telescope if we were able to drop it to the lowest orbit of 160km or so and aim it at the earth. Both would be about 2.5 cm or so resolution at ultraviolet wavelengths, less for longer wavelengths.

        August 30, 2011 at 7:18 am |
  17. Jeffski

    The CORONA satellites in the 1960s and 1970s, which used film, had a resolution of 2-4 feet. If Hubble were pointed at earth, I understand that it would have a resolution of about 6 inches. Of course, this is raw data resolution; with processing, details can be discerned that aren't initially apparent from the raw data.

    So yeah, this article's a sad Big Brother-promoting joke.

    August 27, 2011 at 10:49 am | Reply
    • Nirbhay

      , Brooooooooooooce, I sort of cried. So did my partner. We may have cried again when he fsehiind the show after playing for THREE HOURS NON STOP with Dancing in the Dark.Yeah, one of the best nights of my life.

      November 13, 2012 at 2:25 am | Reply
      • wzrd1

        Magic mushrooms. WONDER why they're not recommended?

        November 13, 2012 at 2:31 am |
  18. david burns

    One thing for sure – if the DOD is a customer – they will get paid three times the normal rate because the old taxpayer has bottomless pockets.

    August 27, 2011 at 7:36 am | Reply
    • Wzrd1

      Wow, the voice of ignorance speaks!
      Have you EVER worked for the DoD or worked as a DoD contractor?
      No, it's blindingly obvious that you haven't.
      You instead, choose to deride those who are good enough to protect you.
      I put over 27 years of my life in uniformed service to this nation. I retired and contracted on some DoD projects for a few years. I made US scale, plus 10% at one location that wasn't too bad. I made US scale plus 30% at a place that wasn't very nice, Djibouti. Did a bit better in Afghanistan, with the differential of 45%, though I had some weird, annoying weather there, where it rained steel and lead at times.
      But, that is 3X what is made in the US, right?
      So, SCALE plus a percentage is THREE TIMES, huh, math major?
      If ignorance is bliss, you're in heaven!

      August 27, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Reply
      • Dongey KonK

        @Wzrd1. Sure, but note you are talking pay as a skilled tech. If you were providing services, technology or equipment for the DoD, and you are a private player, you do charge them a lot more (well, lesser than what your competition might offer to charge). And yes, the DoD does pay up. You know the reasons why.. restrictions on involved personnel (have to hire barely trained grunts who are more operationally expensive than young, non-ROTC college grads), flow of information, added on-site security (both physical and network), milspec conformation, DoD recommended local suppliers. I mean, you should know that DoD doesn't just hand out contracts because you think you can do it, it hands it out after it's sure that you comply with their basic infrastructure policies.

        Sure, your pay won't increase if you are a DoD contractor. But the agency that contracted you does get rich, specially if they provide niche services (like for example, a microfabrication facility). Milspec and custom Intel ICs costs about 10 times more than regular ICs but the infrastructure investment maybe only double the regular. Somebody does make a profit there. The logic is, if we didn't, then why would we want to go through the extra pain to manufacture for DoD.

        August 27, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
      • Wzrd1

        As you said, Milspec, compliance with regulations, specific skill sets, security clearances, etc. The expenses add up, hardening of chipsets, specialized designs, the costs keep adding.
        Of COURSE the price is higher, the DoD doesn't use commercial or even commodity grade equipment, their mission requirements are far harsher and more complex.
        Hey, I'd give my eyeteeth to own a couple of HAIPE encryptor units! 😉
        But, I can't afford the things...
        The saying is, you get what you pay for.
        Without profit, no company would sell products or services to the DoD.

        August 27, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  19. Anon

    Please, we've been able to read license plates from space since the 80s. This article is a SERIOUS joke.

    August 27, 2011 at 7:11 am | Reply
    • Charles

      Yes, but only of cars that have driven into big holes.

      August 27, 2011 at 9:03 am | Reply
  20. Rob

    Are you that inept. You can use Google Earth to see higher resolution photos and have been able to for years. We already know that Google's sat can take images at a resolution high enough that the US gov. will not even allow them to be released unless the resolution is limited. This is possibly the most pathetic example of journalism I have ever seen. You should be ashamed at such a sad and blatantly incorrect attempt at a news story.

    August 27, 2011 at 5:31 am | Reply
    • CoSat

      Actually, Google Earth owns and operates no satellites. They merely purchase imagery data from satellite operators like GeoEye and fuse the data, rebrand it and sell it to people. What Google Earth does is little more than a poor man's version of the intelligence databases that have been in use for decades by the USG.

      August 27, 2011 at 8:42 am | Reply
    • heliocracy

      Much of what's on Google Earth are photos taken from airplanes. Cities have been taking aerial photographs from planes for decades, even before satellites existed, for planning and surveying purposes, and you can obtain them yourself for free from any city or county zoning office. That's what Google did.

      August 27, 2011 at 11:33 am | Reply
    • Gordon

      Give your head a shake, Rob. Google does not own any satellites, AS WE KNOW. Your pontificating makes you look ignorant.

      August 27, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Reply
    • imrational

      Rob – Your first sentence is fitting – just not in the direction you intended.
      Google Earth does not own any satellites, they buy all of their images from other satellite & aerial image providers.
      Google does not have access to the highest levels of magnification available to the government.
      Yours is possibly the most pathetic example of a news story reply I have ever seen.
      You should be ashamed at such a sad and blatantly incorrect attempt at a rebuttal.
      Try doing a little research.

      August 27, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Reply
    • Allen


      Honestly, you really don't know what you're talking about. People who have worked in the Government-funded space industry for years read stuff like your comment and laugh their butts me.

      August 27, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Reply
      • Yup

        HAHAHA! (Solar panels control and steer!)

        August 28, 2011 at 8:21 am |
  21. Jabroni

    Wonder if it can see the crashed alien space ship on the far side of the moon......
    Or read my wrist watch like Enemy of the State

    August 27, 2011 at 4:44 am | Reply
    • Wzrd1

      Erm, there is no alien space ship ANYWHERE on the moon.
      Yes, they CAN read the time from your wrist watch.
      But, since they own their own wrist watches, they'll not bother.

      August 27, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Reply
  22. Michael B.

    CNN's "Security Clearance" series is fun, but this article has "Disinformation" written all over it. As has been noted, the Keyhole satellites from the 1980's could transmit images far better than these; perhaps the data download rate was not as high, but for most applications you don't need real-time imagery. Some sources indicate that the Keyholes are basically Hubble telescopes turned upside-down (of course, with different optical focal lengths to compensate for the different view distances). The only reason they would publish an article like this with this tone of "ooh ahh" would be to try to convince people that this is the best we can do right now.

    August 27, 2011 at 3:19 am | Reply
    • asgardshill

      Brilliant post and analysis. We used to joke that Keyhole could tell if a male wearing a Speedo was circumsized or not.

      August 27, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Reply
    • John R

      The article is either a subterfuge as you say, or the reporter received the 8 1/2 x 11 fact sheet on a tour of Kennedy Space Center. I remember when Lockheed's stealth fighter was finally publicized in 1990, after years of suspicion. It's "service ceiling" was reported as 50,000 ft. For goodness sake, I've been on a 727 at 44,000 flying to Disneyland, how could a secret military fighter that was 25 years newer only climb a bit higher? Ah, was I ever so young? Disinformation, folks.

      August 27, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Reply
    • Wzrd1

      The article is written in ignorance of DoD assets. These are all commercial shots, from commercial satellite imagery providers.
      I sincerely doubt they'd even be let past the security desk at the NRO.

      August 27, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Reply
  23. mmi16

    All the wack jobs are here!

    August 27, 2011 at 2:51 am | Reply
  24. Sugardad D

    Would this be able to zoom in on the moon and show if we really was there? What about the Hubble? I think it's all BS.
    Please prove me wrong.

    August 26, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Reply
    • Donny C

      @Sugardad D, The question is not whether we were there, but what activities were we covering up while we were there ;]

      August 26, 2011 at 11:44 pm | Reply
    • Marine5484

      You do realize that Apollo 11 put a instrument on the moon to bounce back a laser to measure the rate at which the moon is drifting further away from earth.

      August 27, 2011 at 12:26 am | Reply
    • stan turecki

      no, it wouldnt. minimal resolvable features are directly related to how close something is to the satellite. high resolution earth observation satellites are purposefully kept at low orbits for this reason. Granted there is no atmosphere to cause distortion on the moon, but as a target the moon is just too far away to get the sort of resolution images we can get of the earth.

      August 27, 2011 at 2:00 am | Reply
    • Charles

      The LRO did this years ago. Pull your head out mate,

      August 27, 2011 at 9:08 am | Reply
  25. Rich

    CNN, do you take the threats this nation faces on a daily basis seriously??

    Cause you almost have to hope for non stop coverage of some Islamic kid, one of 6 billion, that messed up his own detonation so you can feel like journalists...

    Cause your repulsive coverage is the only thing that scares the nation and makes our second lowest form of prison trash more dangerous than the lowest...

    August 26, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Reply
    • DNA

      They wrote this for you, Rich...

      August 27, 2011 at 2:32 am | Reply
    • Wzrd1

      Take your medication, Rich. You're not doing well when you don't take them.
      This article has absolutely nothing at all to do with national security. It's all commercial satellite imagery, which anyone with a few extra bucks can purchase access to.

      August 27, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Reply
  26. lex

    Big brother is watching for real.

    August 26, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Reply
  27. Rich

    But the absolute truth is they cause the most brutal form of death man kind has ever envisioned or created all so my nasty nation can attack every potential threat to any interest but in such a way that the destruction looks like it it the target's fault so we can reinforce the perception that we are civilized as a cheap as cloak to project our power over millionaire's interests the world over...with the thinnest vein of TEWOW CNN SCI TS security clearance section...

    August 26, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Reply
    • Missing Link

      What a run on sentence! Go back to school, but this time stay awake during English.

      August 27, 2011 at 3:01 am | Reply
  28. Rich

    Seriously CNN?

    What can rail cars really be used for in land of lawful proof and sorry as journalists??

    For the Greater Good cause the pigeons would have passed out from hitting in little glass cube by now leaving with more integrity..

    August 26, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Reply
  29. Rich

    I wonder if the satellite can see the UFO located at the 6 UFO hotspots around the world. For a complete look
    go to

    August 26, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Reply
    • Bill Duke

      They can also see the aluminum foil hat you are wearing.

      August 26, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Reply
    • smarter than you


      August 26, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Reply
    • Rich

      Trying to "suggest" something Poet???

      Blogs starting with "But" and "Seriously" are mine and no clue who the other Richie is but sort of makes you wonder what the basis is and what the reality is...

      By now the pigeons are flying into the glass cube not caring what happens cause we are just sad...

      No, I mean ucking sad CNN....

      No, I mean ucking sad CNN...

      PaPa Bush, what else would come out in my nasty nation??

      Actually I would be quite proud to share my extraordinary story but this sorry as nation would be "scared" to hear it, while they get used to being slaves for life because the longer they waited going nothing the more cowardly they would feel so the easier it becomes to accept anything moving forward..

      You would never believe it HU...

      I have to admit I was a little wrong History Channel cause you still have a vein of courage...

      August 26, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Reply
    • Rich

      This is not retail Richie HU..

      But have you ever seen a real UFO HU?

      August 26, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Reply
  30. BOB (burnt out bad)

    where's waldo?

    August 26, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Reply
  31. Mr. USA

    They have sats capable of counting the change on your dresser.

    August 26, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Reply
    • Mark

      ...and determine whether the coins are heads or tails....

      August 27, 2011 at 12:35 am | Reply
    • Rolf

      Not possible. A diffraction-limited mirror would be huge. Much larger than the typical keyhole satellite. Many hi-res Google images are from airplanes.

      August 27, 2011 at 1:57 am | Reply
      • Larry

        Google gets 90% of it's images from Digitalglobe some were from Landsat 7 when it worked.
        In God we trust All others we monitor.

        August 30, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
      • Wzrd1

        The imagery I used came from the NRO. But, it's not available on the internet. 🙂
        Now that I'm retired from the military, I kind of miss it. But, I retired because I acquired too many dings and dents over the years.

        Who monitors the monitor?
        Crap! I was hoping for COMPETENT oversight. 😉

        August 30, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
  32. Hmmm

    This satellite and it's images are public knowledge. There are many classifed reconnaissance satellites that the CIA and other agencies use that have much better resolution than GeoEye.

    August 26, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Reply
    • Steve

      CIA? Heck, Google Earth clearly shows the 2 inch white lines in the parking lot of the office in which I work.

      August 26, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Reply
      • Hmmm

        You can't read license plates, recognize faces or even read newspaper print on Google Earth.

        August 27, 2011 at 12:15 am |
      • Rolf

        Airborne imagery...

        August 27, 2011 at 1:54 am |
      • westmetals

        Possibly true, but not in real-time. When I replaced the old, dead grass in my front yard, it took three months for the new sod to be visible on Google Earth. And Petco Park (the Padres' new stadium) appeared to still be under construction for the whole first three seasons they played there. (Trucks parked on bare dirt where the field should be, etc.)

        August 27, 2011 at 3:06 am |
      • Wzrd1

        The imagery is purchased by Google. It's not purchased that often, as it's not cheap.
        So, my car is still parked where I returned from duty the day the imagery was shot in Qatar. It's been a while ago...

        YOU all confuse US government classified things with commercial stuff, where budgets are REAL important and seeing really tiny things isn't very important.
        As did the author, to my great mirth.

        August 30, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Erm, NRO, anyone? 😀

      August 30, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Reply
  33. Scott

    "Solar panels control and steer the satellite..."


    August 26, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Reply
    • Wernher von Braun

      Zey must think ve're stupid!

      August 26, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Reply
    • Robert

      Satellites are powered by batteries recharged by solar panels. They are flown by ground controllers who adjust their attitude and altitude as required.

      August 26, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Reply
      • JG

        Orly? Then explain how the satellite is physically kept in orbit by electricity.

        August 26, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
      • stan turecki

        JG, more and more stationkeeping on satellites is done these days with ion thrusters. Not saying it is on these particular satellites, but it could be.

        August 27, 2011 at 2:04 am |

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