High-Resolution Satellite Imagery for Information Gathering vs. Aerial Photography

High-Resolution Satellite Imagery

For a variety of purposes, satellite images will help provide a considerable amount of valuable information at competitive pricing. It is a revolutionary technology that now offers many technological advanced characteristics like high resolution – in which the area represented as pixels corresponding to the minute levels of detail, native accuracy – which is correcting the error between the position of the objects on an image and its real-time position, bit-depth, and rapid delivery, which all help to increase the number of applications in remote sensing.  

What is a high resolution?

In fact, you may not be finding an exact definition for “high-resolution satellite imagery” in the textbooks. But, for the practical purposes, it means the ideal resolution as to 1 m or higher.   

The high-resolution satellite imagery offers better accuracy and details, which are usually availed in km2 basis rate in which the Area of Interest (AOI) will be clipped out as one or more strips or scenes. The users can order the imagery as tasking collections from the archive.  

Aerial photography vs. satellite imagery

We have seen a spectacular development in terms of availability of increased clarity of High-Resolution Satellite Imagery, which makes it a preferred mode of imagery over aerial photography for many unique purposes. You can take Google and Microsoft maps as examples, which now publish satellite images, which are also called a remote sensing image.   

Even though these images are so fascinating and largely usefully, some questions are there as to what its impact over the traditional type of aerial photography. However, aerial photography is not dead but is alive and well for many purposes.  

One major reason why aerial photography is still considered to be a valuable technology is that it can offer better resolution. With the advent of high-quality digital image capturing equipment, aerial photography offers high-resolution images; however, satellite resolution still remains a bit restricted by Federal Laws due to security issues.  

Limitation of satellite imagery

Back in 1999, commercial satellites could have been capturing black and white images of one-meter resolution, which had very fewer details in color.  

There are rumors that the satellites for military intelligence can capture in very high resolution as to reach even the license plates of the automobiles from space, which could probably be an exaggeration, but one may not wonder even if it’s true. However, a private person or a business may not be able to buy or use such images anyway.  

However, there is no doubt that satellite imagery will evolve over time in its ability to survey in a large variety of spectra in terms of documenting, mapping, and surveying for various purposes like:   

  • Planning emergency responses. 
  • Natural disaster recovery 
  • National security. 
  • Border and port surveillance 
  • Airport and industrial mapping 
  • Urban planning 
  • Rural development 
  • Land mapping and planning 
  • Infrastructure development 
  • Electricity, communications, sewers, natural gas, water distribution management, etc. to name a few. 

The Federal laws now limit the resolution of satellite images to a maximum of 0.5 meters, which means that the smallest possible details which can be delineated from a satellite image could be at least 0.5 meters, i.e., 19.5 inches across.

However, an aerial photograph in the highest digital resolution which is taken from about 1000-feet above the ground may be at least five times better in resolution when compared to the commercially available satellite imagery as of now.

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