Satellite" Will Have an Orbital View Over Obama's Inauguration
Washington D.C. from orbit. The Google Satellile GeoEye-1 will
spy on Obama's inauguration (GeoEye)
President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration on Capitol Hill will
Tuesday (January 20th). According to some news sources, tickets
for the event were trading for a price exceeding 5 figures (in
one case, according to CNN in November, an online vendor was
asking for $20,095 for a single
ticket - I hope
they get a "free" bottle of Champagne with that!). It would
appear that ticket demand outstripped supply, making the 44th
presidential inauguration one of the hottest (and most costly)
events to attend in 2009.
However, there is a far cheaper (and less crowded) alternative
to view Obama and Biden getting sworn into office. A satellite
called GeoEye-1 will be orbiting 423 miles above Washington D.C.
looking down at the vast crowd minutes before the excitement
GeoEye-1 launch on September 6th 2008 (Reuters)
n August 2008, Google signed
a deal with the
satellite imagery company GeoEye for exclusive use of the images
produced by the company's new GeoEye-1 satellite. GeoEye-1 was launched
on board a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket from
Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on September 6th 2008.
The satellite is currently in a Sun-synchronous orbit, over 400
miles above the surface of Earth,
imaging the surface in unprecedented detail. A US government
licence actually limits the
resolution of available images to 0.5 metres (the camera on
GeoEye-1 can attain a resolution of 0.41 metres). GeoEye-1's
competitors can resolve objects down to 0.6 metres at the
smallest. The GeoEye products are currently used by Google for
several projects, such as Google Earth and Google Maps.
On Tuesday, however, it is not Google that is interested in
getting the ultimate birds-eye view of the festivities at
Capitol Hill; GeoEye itself is commissioning a high-resolution
photography run at 11:19 EST as the satellite buzzes overhead at
a speed of 17,000 mph. Usually, the presidential inauguration
takes place at noon, so GeoEye-1 will be able to grab a snapshot
of the growing crowds of spectators 41 minutes before the new
commander-in-chief takes office.
"An image of the Inauguration has been
requested by many news organizations," a GeoEye
spokesperson said. "So, if the weather
cooperates, the image will be distributed to news organizations
and bloggers around the world. The image will be available about
three hours after it's taken."
I for one, will be hovering over the GeoEye website, waiting for
the orbital view of Washington D.C. to appear in the comfort of