The Redmond company is constantly working to add superior 3D models of locations around the world to Virtual Earth, both in terms of sophistication and volume. At this point in time, Virtual Earth offers users no less than 250 complete cities "built" through an automated photogrammetric processing system. UltraCamX is a 216 mega-pixel large format digital aerial camera
and the main source of images for Virtual Earth 3D models.
Mark Brown, Senior Product Manager Virtual Earth, revealed:
The 3D models we create for Virtual Earth use a combination of sources. Primarily though, the data used in our photogrammetric processing that creates our models comes from the UltraCam that we manufacture. Here's what one of these things looks like.
This thing is incredible, 216 mega-pixels with a panchromatic image size of 14,430 x 9,420 pixels, capturing data at over 3 GBits/sec, 13 CCD's - 7 pan and 4 color (RGB + Near IR) and 14 CPU's to process the raw images and data in real-time. The data units for the camera hold 1.7TB, enough for about 4,700 images. Since they are swappable the only limitation to how much imagery you can collect is how big your aircraft is to hold these units.