By contrast, the swarm satellites’ cameras will always be on, photographing everything in their path and, owing to their numbers, will pass over the same points on Earth with a frequency of hours to a few days, depending on latitude.
The biggest customers of conventional commercial imaging satellites are governments, in particular intelligence agencies and the military. Prices can be prohibitive for many other potential users, including researchers,
Because the swarms are still to be launched, scientists have yet to fully assess the quality of the imagery. But the satellites’ spatial resolutions of 1–5 metres are much higher than those of most scientific satellites. Landsat, NASA’s Earth-observation workhorse, for example, has a resolution of 15–100 metres depending on the spectral frequency, with 30 metres in the visible-light range.