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Google offers first looks at GeoEye-1 imagery

Google, which is buying GeoEye's high-resolution imagery for online maps, is starting to offer a taste of images from the company's newest satellite.

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The tip of Mt. Fuji, now in higher resolution from GeoEye-1 satellite imagery in Google Earth.
The tip of Mt. Fuji, now in higher resolution from GeoEye-1 satellite imagery in Google Earth. screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google has begun offering the first high-resolution imagery from the GeoEye-1 satellite it helped sponsor--but only as an optional layer in Google Earth for now.

"In the coming months you will start seeing stunning GeoEye-1 imagery blended into our database and viewable through Google Earth, Maps, and Google Maps for Mobile," said Dylan Lorimer, strategic partner manager; and Jacob Schonberg, associate product manager, in a Google Lat Long blog post Wednesday.

Until then, some shots can be viewed by downloading add-on imagery for Google Earth from Google's GeoEye-1 preview site, they said. Because Google Earth now works as a plug-in to some browsers, the full Google Earth application doesn't need to be installed to get a taste. Clicking the thumbnail images in the film strip on the page will launch the in-browser version.

GeoEye launched the satellite in September and plans to launch another with a higher-resolution camera in 2011. However, U.S. government limits the resolution of the images Google shows to details measuring half a meter. GeoEye shared a view of President Barack Obama's inauguration and other teaser images.

GeoEye-1 imagery, such as this shot of Nukuoro in Micronesia, is available in Google Earth as an extra download.
GeoEye-1 imagery, such as this shot of Nukuoro in Micronesia, is available in Google Earth as an extra download. screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET