Much like donning a pair of magical X-ray spectacles, DigitalGlobe's recently launched high-res imaging satellite WorldView-3 can see straight through things like smoke—to identify what's really happening on the surface of the Earth.

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While WorldView-3 will create images that are twice as detailed as Google Maps, it also has other tricks up its sleeve—like a shortwave infrared sensor which can see through clouds and smoke. Just like in this image, which shows before-and-after imagery of a California forest fire. The results are dramatic—and it's hoped that making detailed images like these public could eventually help firefighters tackle the blazes and save lives, too. [Digital Globe via Engadget]

Image by Digital Globe