Seeing a Better World™

Introducing 50 cm TRUE*

By DigitalGlobe | Published:

DigitalGlobe is proud to introduce the product name 50 cm TRUE* for its highest resolution satellite imagery products. When you see 50 cm TRUE*, you know that the image was taken by a satellite with *resolution better than 50 cm at nadir (directly overhead) and also delivers minimum 5 m CE90 accuracy. DigitalGlobe is currently the only commercial provider of native 50 cm satellite imagery.

DigitalGlobe has been delivering true 50 cm imagery to our customers for more than five years, so why the name change now? As of today, only DigitalGlobe can collect and deliver satellite imagery that is truly 50 cm, so we want to ensure our customers know what they’re getting. Some other companies, such as Airbus Defense and Space, may claim to have 50 cm satellite imagery, but that’s not fully accurate.

In a very basic sense, our satellites are cameras on orbit in space. We use very powerful lenses that look back down at the Earth and take pictures of what’s happening on the ground. Three out of the five satellites in DigitalGlobe’s constellation are capable of collecting imagery at 50 cm resolution or better, and with WorldView-3 ready to launch this summer, we will be able to collect imagery down to almost 30 cm resolution.

Why is having the highest resolution imagery important? You might have seen an action movie where the characters are looking at a blurry image on screen and one of them says “Enhance!”. Someone then hits a button and the blurry image becomes clearer and more defined. Unfortunately, that only happens in the movies. Once a picture is taken, new information can’t be added to the image. You can make a sharp image blurry, but not the other way around.

To give an on-earth example, think about digital cameras. In every electronics store, the advertisements talk about how many megapixels each camera can capture, and for good reason. The number of pixels in the image is a measure of how much information it contains. A four megapixel camera takes pictures with TWICE the information of a two megapixel camera. A true 50 cm satellite image has about four million pixels per square kilometer, while a 70 cm image only has two million pixels per square kilometer. There’s a reason why the two megapixel cameras are cheaper at the electronics store than the four megapixel models.

Example of 50 cm TRUE* image as 4 megapixel photo of the Burj Kalifa, Dubai

Example of 70 cm image as 2 megapixel photo of the Burj Kalifa, Dubai

In the first example you can see definition around windows, cars, direction of traffic, which is not detectable in the second example.

Providing the highest-available resolution is foundational to how DigitalGlobe achieves its Purpose of Seeing a Better World™.  If you’re looking for real 50 cm satellite imagery, our archive contains over 700 million square kilometers to meet your needs.  If someone else tells you they have 50 cm imagery, make sure to ask them if it’s truly 50 cm.  It might be something else pretending to be 50 cm, in which case that blurry image might make you want to shout “Enhance!”

6 Responses to Introducing 50 cm TRUE*

takulate says: March 24, 2014 at 12:05 pm

I think there is a big mistake in this blog post. The above mentionned 70 cm image seems more to be around 2.5 m pixel size ! So funny.

DigitalGlobe says: March 21, 2014 at 8:43 am

It is not a lie. You can do the math. An imagery product collected at 50cm has 4 million pixels per square kilometer and a imagery product collected at 70cm has just over 2 million pixels per square kilometer. They are both NIIRS 6 but at the opposite ends of the NIIRS 6 rating. The question is, what do you miss when you lose 2 million pixels per square kilometer? Unfortunately, you won’t know at 70cm.

Aviapics says: March 21, 2014 at 4:13 am

If you want to use image comparison, please try at least to be realistic… the blurred image is just a joke.

Amit says: March 19, 2014 at 11:15 am

I was expecting this. Would love to see to see you also elaborate on “accurate” imagery from QuickBird. Everybody lies. Coming to the point, as far as interpretability is concerned there is not much difference between Pleiades and WV-2/GE-1 as NIIRS 6 classification would suggest. I think it is fair if market has some competition, consumer benefits. This ’50 cm True’ crap is because of the pinch as below article explains:
http://www.spacenews.com/article/financial-report/39648unexpected-competition-launch-delay-are-drag-on-digitalglobe-revenue

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