First Image from GeoEye-1

Color pix from 423 miles high

Kutztown University

GeoEye (See it bigger!)

When the newest commercial imaging satellite opened its eye in the sky, this is the first thing it saw: a university campus located midway between Reading and Allentown, Pennsylvania. GeoEye, the Virginia-based company that owns the satellite, released the image on October 8.

Named GeoEye-1, the satellite was launched on September 6 but spent its first month undergoing initial testing. The quality of its pictures may get even better as its owners continue calibrating the onboard camera.

Already GeoEye-1 has keener vision than any other commercial imaging spacecraft. It can make out objects on the ground that are only a half-meter -- less than 20 inches -- in length.

Technically GeoEye-1 can take even sharper pictures than this first one -- down to a ground resolution of 0.41 meters in its black-and-white mode. But because of U.S. licensing restrictions on commercial "spy" photos, customers other than the federal government are only allowed to purchase images that have been blurred to half-meter resolution.