DigitalGlobe, the only American provider of high-resolution satellite imagery, announced this week that it had received permission from the United States Department of Commerce to sell its “highest-quality” images.
Previously, satellite operators were forbidden under US law from selling images that show features smaller than 50 centimeters (about 20 inches). The improvement marks a notable improvement in satellite image quality. According to Reuters, the change will now allow anyone with such images to be able to identify the make of a car.
DigitalGlobe already has two orbiting satellites that can provide images of 41 cm and 46 cm and will be able to release new images from those satellites immediately. The company has another satellite launch planned for August 2014; that satellite can image objects with a resolution of 31 cm (just over a foot). Under the new government regulations, however, DigitalGlobe won’t be able to sell imagery from the new bird until six months after launch.
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