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Earth to Techies: Let’s Map It All
Imaging the world down to the meter

Earth to Techies: Let’s Map It All
Imaging the world down to the meter

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Earth to Techies: Let’s Map It All

By Andy Kessler From WSJ

Maxar Technologies, a Westminster, Colo.-based satellite and imaging company.

Circling every 94 minutes, Maxar’s satellites survey 3.5 million square kilometers of the Earth every day to capture images that are accurate down to a meter and are stored in a massive data set. Each satellite’s camera can be swung up to 50 degrees from overhead. Maxar has 17 years of imaging history. It stores 120 petabytes of data on Amazon’s servers.


The military, naturally, is its most important customer. Maxar’s data set and 3-D point clouds can track enemy missile launchers or tanks or anything else, and note changes in case of a threat. Generals then have the option, as Mr. Jablonsky put it with one of my new favorite expressions, to “send kinetic energy down range.”

Google Maps is a customer too, using the imagery to help create maps and look for changes—the shops in an average strip mall turn over by 25% every year. Autonomous-vehicle manufacturers will be an emerging market, to map terrain and then to deal with the growing complexity of insurance. Google probably doesn’t want to be liable in an accident, so autonomous car makers may need to purchase their own mapping data.

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Harvey Yan

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