Google said it is acquiring satellite company Skybox Imaging for US$500 million as it works to bolster its mapping services and improve internet access.
The all-cash deal was subject to adjustments, the company said yesterday. Skybox has designed satellites to capture images and deliver them to customers with details down to less than a metre.
"Skybox's satellites will help keep Google Maps accurate with up-to-date imagery," Google said on its website. "Over time, we also hope that Skybox's team and technology will be able to help improve internet access and disaster relief - areas Google has long been interested in."
Google is scouring the technology universe for deals that push into new markets and bolster its traditional services, including mapping and search. The company is also looking for new ways to offer online services to users through Project Loon, which it unveiled last year to help connect people in rural or remote areas to the Web using balloons and other machinery.
In April, Google said it bought Titan Aerospace, a maker of high-altitude, solar-powered drones that provide access to data services around the world.
"They're just growing the number of eyeballs and clicks potentially by billions," said Scott Hubbard, a consulting professor at Stanford University in aeronautics and astronautics. "That has to be good for them."
The acquisitions follow moves by rival Facebook to get more people on the internet through an effort called Connectivity Lab. In March, the company acquired Ascenta, a British-based aerospace company, that will transmit data using infrared laser. The social network paid less than US$20 million for Ascenta, according to a source.