National Geographic : 2018 Feb
they are watching you 63 feet is sufficient to discern the grainy outline of a single truck but not the contours of a human. Resolution-wise, the current state of the art of one foot is supplied by another satellite imaging company, DigitalGlobe. But for now, only Planet, with its formidable satellite deployment, is capa- ble of providing daily imagery of Earth’s entire landmass. “ We’ve run the proverbial four-minute mile,” Marshall said. “Simply knowing it’s possible doesn’t make it any easier.” Still, Planet has blazed a trail. Others someday will follow it. When they do, how will they har- ness the power to see so much of the globe, every single day? Will their aims be as benevolent as those of Planet? Will they try to perfect satellite photography that’s higher in resolution and thus in invasiveness? Marshall doesn’t see how this is possible. “ To identify a person from 300 miles away, you’d need a camera the size of a bus,” he told me. And in any event, he added, an American firm seeking to accomplish that would encounter considerable federal regulatory hurdles. Of course, regulations can be changed. So can the boundaries of our technological limits. Just a year or two ago, the owner of the largest num- ber of functioning satellites in orbit was the U.S. government, with roughly 170. Now Planet pre- vails over the heavens in greater numbers than the most powerful nation on Earth. Who is next in line to be the Biggest Brother?