posted Friday, December 27, 2013 at 6:00 PM EST


Today must be the day for cool space imaging news. No sooner had we covered the awesome almost-selfie of NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins with planet Earth peeking over his shoulder than another space story hit the newsdesk. This time around, it's not a still photo -- instead it's high definition video of our planet, courtesy of Stanford University spinoff Skybox Imaging.

Skybox's first satellite, SkySat-1, was successfully launched late last month on the 19th mission of Ukraine's Dnepr-1 rocket program, and a fortnight ago the company previewed its first sub-meter, color still imagery. Now, it's followed up with what it claims to be the first commercial, high-resolution, HD footage of Earth from space, and while it's monochromatic it's still extremely cool.

Skybox Imaging claims this to be the first commercial, high-resolution, high-definition video of Earth filmed from space, and filmed from the smallest satellite capable of sub-meter imagery.

According to Skybox, its satellite -- believed to be the smallest capable of sub-meter imagery -- can capture Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixel; 1080p30) imagery at 30 frames per second, for as long as 90 seconds per clip. That might not seem much in an age where smartphones can capture both higher-resolution 4K clips, and much longer HD clips, but the requirements of imaging from an orbital craft are much higher than on the ground, and so the availability of on-demand HD capture from space is big news.

SkySat-1 can also capture high-res color stills of Earth. Here, the Crown Perth entertainment complex in Western Australia is shown. See the full image and more in the SkySat-1 gallery.

Skybox is, it says, only the fifth US company that's NOAA-licensed to provide high-resolution earth imagery from space. Its SkySat-1 satellite is the first of a 24-satellite constellation. SkySat-2 is expected to launch on a Soyuz 2.1b rocket some time in the new year, after a planned 2013 launch was pushed back.

More information can be found on the Skybox blog.