Taking pictures from space takes a lot of tech power. Basically, you need to take many, many pictures and then stitch them together to get anything worthwhile, such as the photos taken for Google Earth. In order to battle the issues that come up with this method (vehicles showing up in multiple shots as they move, etc), Sony is developing a monster Gigapixel resolution camera for satellites that'll be able to take gigantic pictures in one shot.
Working together with researchers from the University of Alabama, they've created a seriously wide-angle lens that can capture a 6.2-square-mile area from an altitude of 4.7 miles with a resolution better than 20 inches per pixel. Quoth the researchers: "The idea is to build a collection of light sensitive chips that each record small parts of a larger image and place them at the focal plane of a large multiple-lens system. The camera would have gigapixel resolution, and able to record images at a rate of 4 frames per second." The camera will be able to be affixed to either a satellite or an airplane, providing much better overhead views of Earth than we have now, even though, to me, our current satellite photos seem pretty good for the most part. [New Scientist via New Launches]