The newest satellite circling Earth can spot everything from tomato plants to parking spaces

Gigaom

The most powerful commercial satellite ever made left Lompoc, Calif., today aboard a rocket and is now spending its first evening circling the Earth.

Known as WorldView-3, the satellite joins Earth-imaging company DigitalGlobe’s five existing satellites, which have offered increasingly detailed views of Earth. If you have spent any time looking at Google Earth, you have probably seen an image taken by a DigitalGlobe satellite.

Despite earlier weather concerns and a water leak, the Lockheed Martin Atlas V rocket launched at 11:30 a.m. PT as fog crept over the hills behind the Vandenberg Air Force Base launch pad. Twenty minutes later the satellite separated and began its orbit around Earth.

The Atlas V rocket with the WorldView-3 satellite on board minutes before launch. Photo by Signe Brewster. The Atlas V rocket with the WorldView-3 satellite on board minutes before launch. Photo by Signe Brewster.

The 6,200-pound, 18.7-feet-tall WorldView-3 satellite improves the level of detail DigitalGlobe can provide from 15.75 inches to 11.8 inches. That’s enough to suddenly be able to count…

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