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WorldView-4 joins Earth-watching armada

WorldView-4 launch
A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket rises from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base, sending the WorldView-4 satellite and seven CubeSats into space. (Credit: ULA)satelsatelspsce

DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-4 satellite was sent into orbit today to capture high-resolution, multispectral imagery of Earth, almost two months after California’s wildfires forced a launch delay.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 10:30 a.m. PT to send the RV-sized satellite into space. About 45 minutes later, DigitalGlobe received signals from the spacecraft confirming that it was in good health in its intended near-sun-synchronous orbit.

Like WorldView-3, which went into orbit in 2014, WorldView-4 can provide black-and-white imagery of Earth’s surface with one-foot resolution, and multispectral views to a resolution of 4 feet per pixel. The visible-light pictures feed into the mapping services provided by the likes of Google, while the multispectral views can be used to monitor crop growth and urban planning.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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