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Google, NOAA dive deep under the sea to map reefs, wrecks

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Google is going deep diving to get the 'street view' of reefs and shipwrecks off the Florida coast.

In a new undertaking, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries are taking a "fisheye" camera under water in order to capture views of reefs in the Florida Keys.

The effort will then be translated into a new feature that will let users on Google's "street view" go into the depths of the ocean, much as curious onlookers do of the world's streets and cities with Google Maps.

In recent days Google's cables used for the project have become a favorite target for sharks.

While not all the material being taken by the scientists will be made available to Google, a large enough portion will be in the hopes of spurring interest and understanding of the marine world. It aims to help garner support for ecological and preservation efforts.

Google is a corporate sponsor of the project and the U.S. agency is partnering with other organizations and groups, which have already taken some 400,000 images of reefs in the Caribbean and Australia. Only recently has this new technology been used off the U.S. coast.

The government agency in partnership with other groups has recorded about 400,000 images of reefs off Australia and the Caribbean, but only recently has the technology been used in U.S. waters. Google is a corporate sponsor of the work.

The announcement comes only days after a new high resolution satellite was launched into orbit in effort to continue to deliver the best quality imagery of the planet from high above. DigitalGlobe, a provider of satellite imagery for Google and Google Earth, launched their latest satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base, the Worldview-3, Tech Times reports.

Among the new features and enhancements for the satellite is its ability to capture images at 31 cm resolution. This would be the highest resolution currently available on the market, and has the ability to hone in on a windshield of a car from its perch in orbit. It is also being promoted as being able to take a picture of a license plate.

In many ways, the ability of DigitalGlobe to launch the 31 cm resolution camera satellite comes after the U.S. government relaxed restrictions on commercial satellite imagery, ending its 50 cm limit for cameras.

"As a result of the U.S. Government's recent decision to allow us to sell our highest quality imagery, we've seen sufficient demand," said Jeffrey R. Tarr, president and Chief Executive Officer of DigitalGlobe.

The ability to see deeper and clearer into the minute details of the planet is becoming a reality as new technology emerges that helps bring about a better understanding of the world's ecosystems and inhabitants.

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