In mid-June, the U.S. government relaxed its previously strict rules on high-definition satellite imaging, allowing mapping services like Google Maps to scale up to a higher resolution. DigitalGlobe led the charge in changing the U.S. ruling in part because of its upcoming Worldview-3 satellite, which will provide the first public high-resolution photos of our planet.

Google and Microsoft will be likely beneficiaries of this advanced space imaging since both are DigitalGlobe customers, and the detail this satellite provides is pretty stunning. The company says Worldview-3 will capture sub-50cm resolution, allowing clear views of "manholes and mailboxes," according to the BBC.

Walter Scott, founder and CTO of DigitalGlobe, explains some of the satellite's other applications that are more than just skin deep:

'The Worldview-3 is going to offer the highest commercially available resolution of any satellite system out there. Combining that with the power of our constellation, which gives multiple visits per day over multiple hours of the day, means the ability to monitor what's going on and enabling our defense and intelligence customers to make decisions on the basis of fact than the basis of fear."

The Worldview-3 will operate around 383 miles above Earth, making its precise detail all the more impressive. At such high resolution, the company also says the satellite will help see through smoke and identify moisture content and other materials. DigitalGlobe will begin publicly selling images after six months of operation.

The satellite will launch at 2:30pm ET on August 13, which you can watch live, because who doesn't love a good rocket show. [Engadget]