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After Cheney, vice presidential house is clearer on Google Earth

For years, satellite views of the residence has been blurred. Now, new images are bringing it into focus.

January 27, 2009|Mark Silva

WASHINGTON — Dick Cheney may not have lived in an undisclosed location while he was vice president, but it was all but impossible to see it on Google Earth.

Once obscured by pixilation, Google Earth's aerial image of the vice presidential residence on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington is now nearly as clear as its view of the White House.

This appears to be none of the White House's doing, however, even though the arrival of clarity coincided with the inauguration of the home's new occupant, Vice President Joe Biden.

"Google Earth and Google Maps are regularly updated as new imagery becomes available," a spokeswoman for Google Inc. said Monday. "Our most recent update, which went live last week, included updated imagery of the Washington, D.C., area from several providers."

Google's aerial images come from third-party suppliers, the spokeswoman said -- "some of which may blur images before they provide them to Google." The pixilated view of the observatory grounds came from the U.S. Geological Survey, Google said at the time.

The clearer view is from aerial-mapping company DigitalGlobe Inc.

Built in 1893 on a hilltop in northwest Washington, the Naval Observatory has been the official home to vice presidents since 1977, when Walter F. Mondale was in office.

The observatory still operates, providing astronomical data and the official time for the Defense Department.

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mdsilva@tribune.com

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