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Satellite Imagery May Play Important Role in Alternative Energy Research

By | October 8, 2008
      [Satellite News 10-08-08] Advancements on DigitalGlobe’s next-generation imagery satellite, WorldView-2, will allow the company to deliver the detailed imagery that is in high demand from its U.S. government customers, especially in the area of alternative energy research.
          “One of the things that the satellite’s imagery improvements will allow it to identify is, to different degrees of variance, wet versus dry ground cover,” said Michael McCarthy, DigitalGlobe’s senior director of business development, said. “This is very important not only in agriculture but important in oil, gas and mining as well as other environmental and energy areas.”
          Demand for imagery services by the U.S. government, traditionally dominated by the military, is forecast to grow in civil sectors as well. “The government continues to show high levels of interest in supporting the commercial satellite industry,” said McCarthy. “We see that enthusiasm continuing through WorldView-2 and the next-generation satellites that are on the horizon today. We also continue to see interest and demand for alternative energy exploration increase as we continue to see demand using this data from the satellite for analysis and exploration of opportunities there.”
          The development of WorldView-2 is on schedule, as manufacturer Ball Aerospace began integration of the completed imaging instrument for the satellite in early September. WorldView-2 and WorldView-1, which began operations in November 2007, will allow DigitalGlobe to collect more than 1 million square kilometers of imagery per day.
          “I consider the WorldView-2 as really the next generation of QuickBird, which will be 10 years old by the time the new satellite launches,” said McCarthy. “A lot has advanced in those 10 years. Specifically, the satellite’s agility, radio metric quality and image quality, color and collection rate are all areas of advancement.”
          DigitalGlobe also has seen success in the commercial sector, recently signing a contract with Microsoft Corp. to provide the software giant’s Virtual Earth program with satellite and aerial imagery. Under the terms of the agreement, DigitalGlobe will give Microsoft access to its image library, which contains more than 460 million square kilometers of Earth imagery as well as new imagery collected by DigitalGlobe’s satellites.
          “We have had a relationship with Microsoft for a couple of years both as DigitalGlobe and GlobeXplorer, a company we bought a year-and-a-half ago,” said McCarthy. “This deal is really a formalizing of that imagery provider relationship. What is exciting about it is the inference that this relationship could lead into other areas of partnership with Microsoft.”
          DigitalGlobe also provides imagery to Google and continues to partner with both software rivals. McCarthy said his company is careful not to give a clear advantage to either company. “What have chosen not to do any exclusivity,” he. “The market requires variety and we are an equal opportunity provider, so to speak, of imagery to both the consumer online portal space and the enterprise online mapping space. We think that positions us better to address the full marketplace.”

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