Popular Science has an excellent animated article on the features of GeoEye 1. GeoEye 1 should be in orbit later this year.
Here are some of the features about this system:
- First non-military satellite that uses military grade GPS.
- Has a star-tracker system - that is used in addition to the GPS units to determine its position more accurately. This translates to 1.5 times higher accuracy in determining the position of a pixel on the ground.
The star-tracker system observes stars and uses them to determine the satellites position in relation to our planet.
Any object on the planet's surface can be mapped to within 3 meters of its actual location.
- When the satellite is over a location where it needs to start performing a capture - it turns the "Reaction wheels". This puts a spin on the satellite and help orient the satellite so as to be pointing correctly to take its image. (The reaction wheels spin in reverse to bring the satellite to a halt!)
- The satellite scans in strips. The strips are 37,500 pixels long (1 pixel wide). The camera can capture 20,000 such strips in 2 seconds.
- Each pixel can have a resolution of up to 16 inches on the ground - black and white. In color the resolution drops down to 5.5 feet.
- The high resolution imagery is available only to the US government (and possibly countries that the US designates as ok to receive this higher resolution imagery).
- All other countries will get data that has been re-sampled down to 20 inch resolution.
- The satellite can capture approximately 270,000 sq. miles of data per day (700,000 sq. kms)
- GeoEye will be able to sell the data commercially around the world (probably not to restricted countries like Iran).
- GeoEye 1's primary customer is the US National Geospatial Agency (NGA).
- The satellite has a planned life of seven years.
- The satellite will be in polar orbit. Will have the ability to revisit any location approximately every 3 days.
1 meter resolution
0.41 meter resolution (16 inches) - simulated.
More information is available at http://www.geoeye.com/products/imagery/geoeye1/default.htm
Also check out their gallery of satellite images: http://www.geoeye.com/gallery/default.htm