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Special Event

Millennium 2000: CEO of Space Imaging Discusses Three- Dimensional Aerial Photographs

Aired January 3, 2000 - 8:18 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Here at the entry to a new age, a new way to look at the neighborhood where all of us live: Earth. The sort of spy-in-the-sky images previously available only to intelligence agencies and defense departments, now within reach of almost all the rest of us. On what is available and how it might change our understanding of the world around us, John Copple, CEO of a company Space Imaging joins us here at CNN Center.

Thanks for being with us, John.

JOHN COPPLE, CEO, SPACE IMAGING: Hi.

CHEN: When we say these are images that were previously only available to governments. I mean, that's what you're telling us literally, just to governments.

COPPLE: Yes, generally governments were the only people that could afford to invest in this technology and pay for the satellites, and the ground-processing equipment and everything else it took to actually create these kinds of images.

CHEN: Show us the kinds of things that we're able to see through this technology now.

COPPLE: Well, right now, we're looking at an image of Tokyo that was taken on January 1, the first day of the new millennium, and right in that area is the imperial palace. You can clearly see the moat around the imperial palace. Here's all the high rise buildings in Tokyo all down in this area. Many of the hotels are located here. And so you can get a perspective of what Tokyo looks like, and many of us have never been to Tokyo or soon it before.

CHEN: And what kind of imaging are we seeing this? I mean, is this...

COPPLE: This is a one-meter resolution image. In other words, we can see something about three feet across. It was taken from a satellite orbiting the Earth at about four miles per second.

CHEN: Four miles every second.

COPPLE: Four miles every second. And it's about 400 miles up in space. CHEN: Wow. Show us the other images you have.

COPPLE: One of the other images that we'll look at, I believe, is Madrid, and...

CHEN: You can press that again.

COPPLE: In Madrid, we have images that show the palace, show the...

CHEN: This was also on New Year's Day, right?

COPPLE: On New Year's Day, the first day of the millennium, about 10:30 in the morning, show some of the park grounds. I believe there's a -- there's some kind of bull fighting ring down here in one of the corners. And as you can see, Madrid is a very dense city. You can see that there's -- if you look at the road network here, you don't see any major north, south, east, west freeways like we're used to in the United States. So you can imagine how travel in Madrid is fairly complex.

CHEN: I can understand how, and we're moving on to another picture here. This is one of Denver. I can understand how this would be useful to a government, to an intelligence department, to a defense department. But how would it have application to any of the rest of us?

COPPLE: Well, as cities grow, for instance, here in Denver, here's the new Mile High stadium that's being constructed. The old one, of course, is just north of that. Here's downtown Denver. Some of the recent additions that have occurred is right here, is an amusement park. Well, coming through Denver is a river, so the river runs down through Denver, and you can see that the growth is now going into the area that occasionally gets flooded. As more and more pavement is built in the Denver area, the floodplain is going to change. That's going to drastically affect a lot homes that exist. You know, all the floods we had in North Carolina, a lot of that was predictable, given the rainfall, had we had current information about the floodplains -- which homes were in the flood plain and which homes were not in the floodplain.

So we can use this imagery as a planning tool. We can use it to monitor the construction of a stadium. This is actually in Rome. And this is the stadium in Rome that is so famous and the Roman coliseum. And we can see clearly what it looks like today. And does it need to be rebuilt or has something happen to it, a violent storm comes across, we can use the imagery for emergency response. We've just taken a lot of imagery of the Venezuelan floods.

CHEN: Now you also have the capacity to look at this in motion, in viewing motion, in video like a fly-through, in essence, as we're looking at here?

COPPLE: We can create a fly-through. This is Kyoto, Japan. And we're flying down the Conno (ph) River here.

CHEN: So this is, in essence, a photo, not a depiction, not an artist rendering, but this is the real thing.

COPPLE: This is real imagery we have created in three dimensions, by taking multiple shots of the same area with a satellite. And now this is a special software that allows us to us to view the imagery and actually fly through it as if we were in a helicopter. So we have some biological gardens here, and we can clearly see the riverbed that we're flying down. This type of application will be useful to us in the future, as on the Internet, we can do virtual travel. If you've never been there...

CHEN: You can take us there.

(CROSSTALK)

COPPLE: ... we can take you there.

CHEN: I want to look at this really quickly, because this is actually -- one of your clients you believe will be governments, and they might have a reason to look at other governments, what other countries are doing. This is an example of that.

COPPLE: That's correct. This is North Korea. And this is...

CHEN: A place most people never have an opportunity to see in a closed society.

COPPLE: And many other countries would never have an opportunity to see, and this is a Taepo Dong launch complex.

CHEN: Which is what?

COPPLE: Well, it's where the missile was launched over in Japan, many of us heard about in the news earlier in 1999. You have a missile-construction facility right there. You actually have a launch complex sitting right here. And so we're able now to monitor many events around the world that are happening and understand what the impact may be, because most countries and people react of fear, and it's fear of the unknown, where this technology makes transparency possible. So we have the known event.

CHEN: John Copple, the company is Space Imaging. We appreciate your bringing us these new views from space of all the world around us.

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