NASA offers clearer images of Earth
Updated satellite images available for free to the public on a NASA Web site are proving to be a popular download, officials said.
The new images show large buildings, streets and other landmarks picked up by the Landsat satellite around the globe.
In one month alone since adding the new data, four times the usual number of downloads occurred.
The update is available through a Web site of NASA's Earth Science Applications Directorate at Stennis Space Center.
Tom Stanley, ESA's technical manager for the project, said the data could inspire a lot of applications, including new flight simulators and video games, and a new way to teach geography.
Stanley said Landsat has been the workhorse of the Earth science program and the current platform, Landsat 7, is producing images almost twice as detailed as those produced by earlier satellites.
Comparing the new set of images to older ones can show how much coastal land has been lost to erosion and how communities have spread out, helping urban planners to project infrastructure upgrades.
Craig Harvey, executive vice president of NVision Solutions at Stennis, is thrilled about the new images.
In addition to incorporating them into his company's products, he uses the data "almost every day" for proposal writing. And that, he said, has made proposal writing less costly and time-consuming.