For quite some time now, whenever confronted with stories about the "evil gumint and their spy-satelites that watch you while you pee", I would scoff and ridicule the proponents of such ideas. You see, having perused the BABB for several years I had become well aware that the resolution required to recognize facial features, read text, etc, etc from space, would require a "ginormous" orbiting telescope - and hence was just not feasible. But then last night it occurred to me that this is not necessarily true.
I am thinking there are two key technologies that if used concurrently could be used to achieve pretty fantastic resolution:
1. Adaptive optics
Basically, I see no reason why a space - based telescope could not be fitted with adaptive optics (employing the "laser as guidestar" method) to peer down through the atmosphere, as opposed to a ground based telescoping peering up through said atmosphere.
2. Space-based Interferometry
In short, I am assuming that it might be possible to construct "keyhole"-type satellites that employ both adaptive optics, and are capable of networking to perform optical interferometry.
I am by no means suggesting that such a system currently exists, merely that I can no longer scoff at the idea that a satellite might be reading my licence plate.
So my question is, have I lost it? Is all of this remotely possible? Any ideas what the theoretical resolving power of such a system might be? Comments?