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Last Updated:  Friday, 28 March, 2003, 13:52 GMT
Satellites look down on Baghdad
By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Online science editor

Images of Iraq taken by commercial satellites are allowing the public an unprecedented close-up view of the conflict.

Building, Quickbird-Digitalglobe
Government buildings have been pounded
Since the last Gulf war, several high-resolution satellites have been launched with the aim of providing detailed views of the Earth for town planning, pollution monitoring and environmental management.

Now, these spacecraft are turning their lenses on Iraq and their images show the conflict zone in remarkable detail, revealing bomb damage, burning oil trenches and sandstorms.

A series of images of central Baghdad taken over the past few days has just been released by Digitalglobe, the company that manages the Quickbird satellite.

Palace, Quickbird-Digitalglobe
A presidential palace on Thursday - no damage
Quickbird was launched on 18 October, 2001, and is said to produce the highest resolution images of the Earth from space outside the military. Details as small as 0.9 of a metre can be seen.

A series of images taken by the satellite on Thursday, 27 March, show burning oil trenches near to a refinery in northeast Baghdad.

The famous "crossed swords" monument can easily be seen, as can an unscathed presidential palace. Trees, cars, trucks and railway carriages can also be discerned.

Swords, Quickbird-Digitalglobe
Crossed swords: One of the most famous features of Baghdad
For a wider view of the region, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) has released images of the sandstorms that swept the region.

Another view of satellite imagery is available via the Near Real-time Satellite Images of Iraq website maintained by Kinetic Analysis Corporation.

All images by Quickbird-Digitalglobe.

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