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Posted on February 2nd, 2021

Free for All – NOAA Restrictions Lifted

As more satellites are shot into space from all over the world, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has had to keep up with the times and adjust its rules. The United States had long been the leader in satellite imagery innovation, but it was only a matter of time before more countries caught up and set their sights on higher resolution platforms. Previous regulations, instituted 14 years ago, capped the highest resolution available for commercial use at 50-cm. Their main concern at the time was security.

Now these regulations are restricting US-based satellite companies, leaving them in the lurch as competitors drill down to finer resolutions. The first change came in 2014, as WorldView-3 was set to launch with collection capabilities at 31-cm resolution, and NOAA lowered the resolution requirement to 25-cm to accommodate Maxar.

In 2020, the regulations were stripped to a bare minimum, opening numerous possibilities for US companies to capture data, not only in the visible spectrum but also SAR, shortwave infrared and nighttime imagery. The approach looks at competition to dictate conditions. If another company has a satellite with the same capabilities than it’s fair game. More advanced imaging will be subject to greater scrutiny and restrictions.

We look forward to more satellites pushing the current technological boundaries to provide a wealth of additional remote sensing data to our customers.

Katie Nelson
Geospatial Ninja
(303) 718-7163

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