Google signs exclusive satellite deal

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Google has signed an exclusive deal with satellite company GeoEye for sole rights to images from its GeoEye-1 orbiter..

GeoEye-1 will produce the highest resolution commercially available pictures of the Earth's surface, and Google wants them for its mapping software.

GeoEye-1 is scheduled to launch this week, weather permitting.

Google spokeswoman Kate Hurowitz told Reuters that the company will begin receiving images from the new satellite within three months, once the onboard systems have been checked.

"The combination of GeoEye's high-resolution, map-accurate satellite imagery from GeoEye-1 and Google's search and display capabilities provides users with access to rich, interactive visual image maps of the Earth," she said.

The satellite will orbit at a height of 423 miles but will be able to identify objects as small as 41cm across. It will orbit the earth 15 times a day, mapping almost a million square kilometres every 24 hours.

The move is the latest battle over mapping software, which is moving beyond a consumer technology into the area of business.

The boom in location-based businesses is making accurate mapping essential, and Google is hoping to monetise its technology to pay for its initial outlay.
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