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New satellite will blow your socks off - and spot them from spaaaace

WorldView-3 can pick out things as small as 31cm

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A new satellite set to fly in 2014 will offer the chance to spot objects just 31 centimetres across … from SPAAAAAACE.

WorldView-3 will be thrust 617 kilometres into the heavens atop an Atlas V rocket and will boast several different sensors, the better to provide images to customers including the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which reportedly asked for the inclusion of short-wave infra-red sensors.

The satellite's owner, DigitalGlobe, is also known to have substantial contracts with military customers. The company has also talked up the new bird's ability to help the resources sector, thanks to sensors that can distinguish different types of soil.

Eight spectral imaging devices will capture images visible to the human eye. A little sharpening of the images will mean it is possible to spot objects just 31cm long, almost exactly the length of your correspondent's size 13 flip flops, from space.

The satellite is also exciting geogeeks thanks to specs that promise it will be able to revisit any corner of the globe every 24 hours. DigitalGlobe's other birds, WorldView-2-and-1, will team with the newest member of the family to reduce revisit times to around 12 hours, a boon for those who need a lot of perspective in a hurry.

The craft also boasts a 680,000 km2-per-day image capture capability and two terabytes of on-board storage.

DigitalGlobe's gallery gives you an idea of what to expect from the new satellite. The photo below, from the gallery, depicts the cruise ship Costa Concordia aground off Giglio. This image was captured with WorldView-2, which has a resolution of 46cm, 15cm coarser than the new satellite. Once WorldView-3 goes up, so will resolutions for photos like this one. ®

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