6 April 1998

Date: Mon, 06 Apr 1998 11:31:42 -0400
To: jya@pipeline.com
From: DN
Subject: Spy-quality pictures to be sold online

Spy-quality pictures to be sold online

Web posted at: 9:37 p.m. EDT (0137 GMT) 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A satellite bringing back the sharpest pictures yet
for commercial, non-spy purposes has returned to Earth with images that will
be available for downloading from the Internet, a U.S. company said Sunday. 

The pictures carried back by the Russian satellite will be detailed enough
to distinguish objects as small as six feet across, the sharpest shots from
space to be sold commercially, Aerial Images Inc. of Raleigh, North
Carolina, said. 

John Hoffman, president of Aerial Images, said the satellite, its speed
broken by retrorocket firings, landed on target early Friday, close to its
February 17 launch pad at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. 

"It went off without a hitch," he said of his company's joint mission with
SOVINFORMSPUTNIK, a commercial arm of the Russian Space Agency. 

Hoffman said that when the onboard film was processed and digitized, images
would be available for downloading for between $8.95 and $24.95 each,
depending on how large an area was covered. 

High-quality poster-size prints will also be available through Kodak, one of
the U.S. companies supporting several key areas of the mission, Hoffman said
in a telephone interview. 

Customers can also request imagery on CD-ROM. With such "two-meter
resolution," a viewer would be able to pick out a house within a
neighborhood or evaluate potential building sites. 

Before ordering, shots can be viewed for free on the so-called
"TerraServer," www.terraserver.com, a joint project involving Microsoft,
Aerial Images, Digital Equipment Co., Kodak and SOVINFORMSPUTNIK. 

"It's the highest resolution imagery that has ever been commercially made
available anywhere in the world," Hoffman said, noting it was good enough to
distinguish a truck from a car. 

The just-completed mission collected images of the southeastern United
States from Mississippi east and from the tip of Florida to Washington, D.C. 

Three more such missions are planned, starting this autumn, to complete
coast-to-coast coverage of the United States.