“Google Satellite” Will Have an Orbital View Over Obama’s Inauguration

Article written: 18 Jan , 2009
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
by

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President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration on Capitol Hill will be the place-to-be on Tuesday (January 20th). According to some news sources, tickets for the event were trading for a price exceeding 5 figures (in one case, according to CNN in November, an online vendor was asking for $20,095 for a single ticket – I hope they get a “free” bottle of Champagne with that!). It would appear that ticket demand outstripped supply, making the 44th presidential inauguration one of the hottest (and most costly) events to attend in 2009.

However, there is a far cheaper (and less crowded) alternative to view Obama and Biden getting sworn into office. A satellite called GeoEye-1 will be orbiting 423 miles above Washington D.C. looking down at the vast crowd minutes before the excitement begins…

GeoEye-1 launch on September 6th 2008 (Reuters)

GeoEye-1 launch on September 6th 2008 (Reuters)

In August 2008, Google signed a deal with the satellite imagery company GeoEye for exclusive use of the images produced by the company’s new GeoEye-1 satellite. GeoEye-1 was launched on board a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on September 6th 2008. The satellite is currently in a Sun-synchronous orbit, over 400 miles above the surface of Earth, imaging the surface in unprecedented detail. A US government licence actually limits the resolution of available images to 0.5 metres (the camera on GeoEye-1 can attain a resolution of 0.41 metres). GeoEye-1’s competitors can resolve objects down to 0.6 metres at the smallest. The GeoEye products are currently used by Google for several projects, such as Google Earth and Google Maps.

On Tuesday, however, it is not Google that is interested in getting the ultimate birds-eye view of the festivities at Capitol Hill; GeoEye itself is commissioning a high-resolution photography run at 11:19 EST as the satellite buzzes overhead at a speed of 17,000 mph. Usually, the presidential inauguration takes place at noon, so GeoEye-1 will be able to grab a snapshot of the growing crowds of spectators 41 minutes before the new commander-in-chief takes office.

An image of the Inauguration has been requested by many news organizations,” a GeoEye spokesperson said. “So, if the weather cooperates, the image will be distributed to news organizations and bloggers around the world. The image will be available about three hours after it’s taken.”

I for one, will be hovering over the GeoEye website, waiting for the orbital view of Washington D.C. to appear in the comfort of my office…

Source: VentureBeat


37 Responses

  1. John says

    Is this co-incidence the satellite is overhead, or have they had to alter it’s orbit? If the latter, how much alteration have they made and how much planning would that take?

  2. Member

    Oh please.

    “Liberal bias”? An article about a satellite that will be taking a photo from over 400 miles above the US Presidential Inauguration has somehow annoyed you? All I’ve done is stated a fact and you’ve assumed some political agenda. I think that says more about your political bias than mine.

    I actually thought taking a high-resolution image above this historic event was pretty cool. Plus the fact it will be available 3 hrs after is superb.

    Thanks Jimmy, pretty much what you said πŸ˜€

    Cheers, Ian

    PS. I’ll also be trying to be one of the first to display the Inauguration imagery… and there’s nowt anyone can do about it :p

  3. Member

    Hi John, to be honest, I’m not totally sure. I believe they may have slightly altered the path of the satellite to coincide as close as possible with noon on Tuesday. You may have to ask a satellite expert though πŸ™‚

    Cheers, Ian

  4. Member

    Lol, I think I get it now pantzov… Sorry Jon if I took you out of context. I’ve been slammed so many times for including political articles on UT, I’ve become a little hardened to humorous comments πŸ˜€

  5. Jon says

    This article only verifies the liberal bias of Universe Today.

    What else would you expect from a website that promotes science?

    How typical….

  6. pantzov says

    i hope he lives up to all the hype.
    US national debt has almost doubled since 2000. have fun with that mr. obama, and good luck.

  7. Jimmy says

    Are you kidding, Jon? The name Obama appears twice in the article if you include the image caption. This is a report on the satellite coverage of a presidential inauguration. It would have been the same if it was McCain.

  8. gavrinis says

    Yes I want to study with you there in the Waschington city..we can try it.

  9. gavrinis says

    something is fliing in the sky ..maybe..

  10. gavrinis says

    do you have something for me?

  11. pantzov says

    mr. o’neill, re: “Jon”

    he had a strange way of doing it but i think the guy was trying to make some sort of a joke. the clue is in how he equates liberals and science.

    keep on keepin πŸ™‚

  12. Thomas says

    To all you who are wondering how this is related to Universe Today, note that this article was filed under “Satellites” and “observing”. Also note that this article is not the first to have that done.

    So yes, it seems that there is a section in Universe Today for this sort of stuff.

  13. Sofia says

    Congratulations for your new President.
    We will see the celebration here in Greece too, it is an international event.
    This view of the Wasington D.C. is beautiful, once we could see only the maps of a country, now we can see an event taking place….
    It will be pleasant and different from TV where they pick almost always the bad news.

  14. Max says

    The meaning of liberal and conservative has been changed by both the democrats and republicans several times in their short history. They change definitions as part of their campaigns to win public support.
    I think one would be a fool to believe either party had anything but its own self interests at heart.

    That said, I do hope the best for our new president. I don’t agree with many of his stated policies, but his success or failure at good leadership involves our future.

    As far as the $20,000 tickets. I thought (by law) those were handed out free for senate and congressional members to distribute?
    Someones raking in alot of cash for this.

    Also, with all the security panics of recent months, live satellite imagery from the capital during a large public gathering seems to signal a change in policy… or is this just a one time exception?

  15. Salacious B. Crumb says

    … and this is science related to Universe Today ???

    The U.S. economy is going down the drain, global warming and climate change is going to extinguish live on the planet, most of the world is teetering on the edge of the starvation, woman and children being innocently killed in Gaza… and all you ant to do and party on the election of what is fundamentally a just another capitalist community-loving politician?
    Isn’t the minimal estimated cost of 50 million bucks for the 44th President Inauguration just a little bit obscene – let alone the crescendo of the nauseating hype… Yes we can… at a price!
    God bless America for sending such a positive message, and also for the non-liberal minded among us, let’s hope it is totally clouded out….

  16. Sofia says

    For a rare coincidence, if you’ll see the full town plan, you’ ll notice that the charatteristic of the town pattern are the diagonal streets in the ortogonal tissue that form STELLAR squares πŸ™‚

  17. Sofia says

    Some calculations…. think that I’ve studied 21 years ago…

  18. Sofia says

    ….and a plan of the city up to 1791. But you can see it in coogle map also.

  19. Salacious B. Crumb says

    … and this is science related to Universe Today ???

  20. Sofia says

    Plus, its a satellite view.

  21. Cannon says

    HAHA. I thought it was obvious that Jon was being sarcastic. Anyway, if I wasn’t going to be at the event I would definitely be on the website checking out those satellite images. Sounds awesome.

  22. Salacious B. Crumb says

    Cannon, don’t you mean ironic?

  23. Thomas the Doubter says

    Just where on their website can you see up to date imagery? I don’t see any links talking about the Inauguration and I don’t find “up to date” links of live or near live imaging. Someone wanna point me in the right direction here, because I seriously doubt they are giving out the imagery for free.

  24. Idonotwannabeanamerican says

    Really. Who needs satellite imagery, when clearly we just have television. Perhaps instead of worrying about projected images from space, we have to have the U.S. just taking over the entire satellite network carte blanche.
    Whilst a resistant non-resident of the US of A,, here in Australia all the free-to-air networks will be showing it live – blanket coverage – with no alternative programming for viewers at 3pm to 6am in the morning! Methinks Green Day got it right!
    Does the United States want another additional 51st State, because this once independent country is clearly wantonly ripe for the picking!
    Stunningly Appalled !!!

  25. RL says

    I think watching the inauguration via satellite will make me feel like I’m in an episode of “24”. Cool.

  26. Silver Thread says

    Salacious, honestly, shouldn’t you be trolling youtube or something?

  27. Astrofiend says

    Idonotwannabeanamerican Says:
    January 19th, 2009 at 10:54 am

    “Whilst a resistant non-resident of the US of A,, here in Australia all the free-to-air networks will be showing it live – blanket coverage – with no alternative programming for viewers at 3pm to 6am in the morning! Methinks Green Day got it right!”

    With some notable programming exceptions from ABC and SBS, TV in Australia completely and utterly sucks anyway. This will just make it suck that little bit more. Perfect opportunity to get out under the stars I reckon.

  28. Random63 says

    Oh Puleeze! Can’t the Dear Leader stay off the space sites? Please remember, nearly half of our country did not vote for this man and will NOT be tuning in tomorrow to see his farce of a coronation. Can’t Universe Today keep the political stories on the political sites and let us regular folks have some sort of sanctuary to go to without hearing his name?

  29. Jon says

    “he had a strange way of doing it but i think the guy was trying to make some sort of a joke. the clue is in how he equates liberals and science.”

    “Lol, I think I get it now pantzov… Sorry Jon if I took you out of context. I’ve been slammed so many times for including political articles on UT, I’ve become a little hardened to humorous comments πŸ˜€ ”

    “HAHA. I thought it was obvious that Jon was being sarcastic. Anyway, if I wasn’t going to be at the event I would definitely be on the website checking out those satellite images. Sounds awesome.”

    Politics or any reference to politics rarely appears in UT (thankfully) so I could not help myself.

    Cheers πŸ˜€

  30. Carl Johnson says

    “Please remember, nearly half of our country did not vote for this man and will NOT be tuning in tomorrow to see his farce of a coronation.”
    I can’t believe all of the Wah, Wah, crybaby stuff coming out of of conservative mouths. It’s been comical and embarrising to hear Rush Limbaugh whine like a tortured brat for the past two months.

  31. troy says

    thought maybe I could avoid it by scanning through my science articles.

    GUESS NOT!!!

  32. megan says

    I can’t wait to watch Obama show just how badly Bush and his conservative allies messed up this country so badly and how it will be fixed properly.

    As if we needed any more proof of how inept and dangerous Bush was.

    So long and good riddance, cowboy!

  33. Sofia says

    We saw the inauguration here in Greece also.
    I liked him, he spoke very nice. I liked the points on ethical reasons, the friendship between countries, the need to intere on the market mentality that grew up enormously last century. His thoughts about the environment, about the investments and the creation of decent work for the people.
    Becouse world economy is not based anymore on the produttivity of work. It moves on money games that are just paper at least.
    Investments on work for the people is the best thing to do.
    All here are impressed and talk about a new America ‘ s era. Congratulations again.

  34. Sofia says

    correction : interfere on market mentality

  35. Salacious B. Crumb says

    Actually seen these Geo-Eye-1 images. The media reports the people looked “like ants swarming around a lump of sugar.”
    Amazingly some portions of the White House have still been blurred to protect the occupants. After all the fuss of these events, really the truth is Obama words after him inauguration echoed more of the moment than some image of nameless bunch of supporters.
    Still. His words of support for science and technology auger well for the future of America and the World – and probably more interested readers of Universe Today.

  36. Mike Jackson says

    I liked it when Obama’s benediction choice, Rev. Lowery, prayed for a day when “when white will embrace what is right”.

    I guess we can always hope that one day white men, women and children will seek to be decent human beings, but…

    As frosting on the cake Sen. Robert Byrd, Senior Senate Democrat and retired Klansman collapsed at the inauguration of first black man as President.

  37. MikeM says

    Here’s a link to the GeoEye web page about the inauguration:

    http://www.geoeye.com/CorpSite/gallery/detail.aspx?iid=218&gid=45

    The page shows a low-res picture, but you can click on a link to download a hi-res version, which is about 8000 pixels square and about 6.7MB in size.

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