[VIDEO] of Earth From Space Brings Maps to Life: Watch Planes Landing in Beijing

For Wired ScienceBetsy Mason wires: The video above was taken by a satellite, from space. It has enough resolution to watch individual cars move down the road and identify specific planes at the Beijing airport.

“What’s exciting now is being able to put the video directly on a map,” said Mapbox CEO Eric Gunderson. “They’re an awesome data source, and we have an awesome API that can digest that data.”

— Mapbox CEO Eric Gunderson

The footage is from Skybox Imaging, a company that has just started offering customers 90-second video of any point on Earth from its SkySat-1 satellite, upping the ability to monitor what’s going on down here on Earth from space.

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BUSTED: Google Earth Exposes Pot Farm

Google Earth This satellite image shows the location of an field where marijuana was allegedly grown.

This satellite image shows the location of an field where marijuana was allegedly grown. Google Images

 reports:  If you’re going to run a massive marijuana growing operation, you might want to watch out for those pesky Google Earth cameras.

An Oregon man was busted for growing more marijuana than he was legally allowed, but his arrest came not through a raid or a tip, but through satellite imagery provided by Google Earth, the Grants Pass Daily Courier reported.

Police say they got a tip that Curtis W. Croft, 50, was boasting about the amount of the plant he was growing on his property in Grants Pass, Ore. But instead of knocking on his door, authorities looked up the satellite image on the web. Read the rest of this entry »


Microsatellites – What Big Eyes They Have

By ANNE EISENBERG

Microsatellites - What Big Eyes They Have - NYTimes.com

PEOPLE already worried about the candid cameras on Google Glass and low-flying drones can add a new potential snooper to the list: cameras on inexpensive, low-orbiting microsatellites that will soon be sending back frequent, low-cost snapshots of most of Earth’s populated regions from space.

They won’t be the first cameras out there, of course. Earth-imaging satellites the size of vans have long circled the globe, but those cost millions of dollars each to build and launch, in part because of their weight and specialized hardware. The new satellites, with some of the same off-the-shelf miniaturized technology that has made smartphones and laptops so powerful, will be far less expensive.

The view from high up is rich in untapped data, said Paul Saffo, a forecaster and essayist. He expects the new satellite services to find many customers.

Insurance companies, for example, could use the satellites’ “before” and “after” views to monitor insured property and validate claims after a disaster. Businesses that update online maps for geologists, city planners or disaster relief officials could be customers, too. The images could also be used to monitor problems like deforestation, melting icecaps and overfishing.

And food companies and commodities traders could use the images to keep track of crops and agricultural yields all over the planet, Mr. Saffo predicted.

But the images are also likely to be viewed as the latest mixed blessing by people already apprehensive of Big Brother-like surveillance in their lives.

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