Sharper satellite images allowed, as U.S. loosen rules
Satellite images sharp enough to show details such as manhole covers, stop signs and lamp posts will soon be available in Canada and around the world, after the U.S. loosened limits put in place years ago due to national security concerns.
Starting early next year, the U.S. government will allow the commercial sale of black-and-white images with a resolution of up to 25 centimetres and colour images of up to a metre, confirmed Tahara Dawkins, director of the Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in an email to CBC News.
Starting earlier this month, satellite imagery companies have been allowed to sell black-and-white images with a resolution of up to 40 centimetres and colour images with a resolution of 1.6 metres.
Before now, satellite image providers weren’t allowed to sell black-and-white images with a resolution higher than 50 centimetres or colour images with a resolution better than 2.0 metres even though at least one U.S. satellite image provider, Longmont, Colo.-based DigitalGlobe Inc., was technologically capable of collecting higher resolution images. At the allowable resolutions, it’s possible to see cars and houses, but not always details such as manhole covers or mailboxes.
“Once you start looking at the difference between 30 to 50 [centimetres resolution], then you’re