Google Maps is something we’ve all used daily. The initial thrill of viewing our homes in the “satellite view” changed recently to the popular “street view”. However, actually getting those initial satellite views (many of which are actually supplemented with shots from planes) takes time.
So step forward Planet Labs, a company who are making and launching shoebox-sized satellites that are buzzing around the Earth as we speak. The satellites can send back live black and white footage or full HD video to the control room, where data on movements can be analysed or sold on to the likes of councils, planners or companies interested in seeing where people go to and from. This BBC video shows the satellites and the footage they beam back, and you can see cars moving along streets plus people walking around.
Google are already in talks with this company and it could mean more detailed, more regularly updated imagery appearing soon. Who knows, if Google do end up buying them we could well see live footage of ourselves from space on Google Maps as we walk to work. Pretty scary huh?
The satellites themselves are relatively cheap to put together and, because of their size, they can launch many at once – 131 are planned to launch into low orbit in the next 12 months after the first batch were released from the International Space Station in February.