Pioneering near-space company World View is showing off what its so-called ‘stratollite’ balloons can do with a simple, off-the-shelf imaging sensor and a view of Earth from between 65,000 and 75,000 feet up.
The company is hoping to use its ultra high-altitude balloons in a variety of commercial applications, including real-time image capture, and so it sent up one of its balloons to take pictures using optical imaging sensors that can provide sub-meter resolution of objects on the ground. That’s a tricky resolution to nail from low-Earth orbit, and World View is hoping its alternative will be useful to customers who want remote imaging without the trade-offs of orbital satellites.
Stratollites from World View will soon be able to deliver 10-15cm resolution, and it’ll also be able to offer “real-time, continuous downlink” connects for transfer of images, suitable for both commercial and government customer applications. These could be handy in surveilling a large work or job site, for instance, or in monitoring a location from a security perspective, too.
World View has a number of potential uses of its high-altitude balloons in mind, including providing high-bandwidth internet access to hard to reach areas. The balloons have a unique ability to essentially remain in a fixed area over long periods of time, whereas previously stratosphere balloons have been more subject to currents in the air up there in terms of determining the path of their flight. Eventually, World View also hopes to fly people up to the edge of space in its balloons, too.
The pics are definitely worth a gander while you’re waiting for that stratospheric balloon ride – sure beats consumer drone photos.