Look up. Somewhere up there, floating 385 miles above your head, is one of the most sophisticated pieces of machinery humanity has ever built.
It's a new satellite called WorldView-3. It's carrying the fastest, highest-resolution super-spectral imaging technology we can build. If this camera was attached to the Hollywood sign and pointed toward San Francisco, it could count the number of people on the Golden Gate Bridge.
It sounds terrifying, but it's actually really cool and could save millions of lives. That's because it's not a spy satellite working for the government, it's a private satellite that will sell images to humanitarian groups, urban planners, researchers, geologists, biologists and more. Mashable has the story:
This is a satellite that may prevent famine in Syria by identifying ahead of time exactly how many crops are being grown now that 2 million refugees, mostly farmers, have fled the country. This is a satellite that can help firefighters, because it sees through dense smoke. It can tell you when Iran has added a new parking space outside one of its nuclear facilities.
Right now, NOAA restricts satellite images to no higher resolution than 50 centimeters per pixel, but those restrictions are set to relax in six months. Even then, the camera isn't powerful enough to make out the features on your face. It's biggest advantage is how fast it can send info back to Earth:
The WorldView-3 will send 1.2 GB of data back to Earth every second. That's faster than the fastest Wi-Fi you've ever experienced, and it means this puppy can send an extremely detailed image of everything between New York City and Washington, D.C., in just 45 seconds. It can collect and send data on an area of land the size of the U.S. every two days.
The biggest issue won't be prying eyes looking at private data, it's that there won't be enough eyes to parse through the massive amounts of useful data. In the meantime, if you're worried about other satellites taking your picture, click here to get an app that can notify you if and when it happens.