We have high resolution images of the the surface of the Earth taken by satellites (e.g. the images from Google Earth). Why have none of the orbiters going to any other planet or celestial body in our Solar system have this technology? Is there a high cost, or are circumstances that limit this technology in any other place but earth. Or maybe we do have this but I haven't heard of it?

If they sent this technology to the Moon or Mars, they could get high resolution shots of interesting features such as the Moon landings, or plot potential landing sites and places to visit with rovers. It may also be a good publicity ploy, seen as pictures from space can be spread easier nowadays.

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    $\begingroup$ Marmstrong, please check this out: HiRISE. You'd be delighted! $\endgroup$ – Deer Hunter Jan 30 '14 at 14:43
  • $\begingroup$ @DeerHunter That is AMAZING!! Why aren't these things publicized more. Do they have any of the rovers or the moon landings? $\endgroup$ – Marmstrong Jan 30 '14 at 14:49
  • $\begingroup$ I found this which says that they have tried with mix results to find the landers. $\endgroup$ – Marmstrong Jan 30 '14 at 15:00
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    $\begingroup$ Since you mention Google Earth, here's Google Mars, Google Moon and also Google Sky. I imagine other similar Google products will become available when the data will be made public and collated in such fashion, but some such data is publicly available elsewhere too, such as HiRISE that DeerHunter links to, THEMIS, Cassini Solstice Mission, and loads more, too many to list in a comment. $\endgroup$ – TildalWave Jan 30 '14 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ erm, the high resolution shots in Google Earth are almost certainly arial shots from planes. $\endgroup$ – Baldrickk Sep 5 '18 at 14:52

This has been done for the Moon, Mars and Mercury.
The Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter mission aims to map the moon. It has two narrow-angle cameras which make black-and-white images of the surface, capturing images with resolutions down to 1 meter (about 3.3 feet). This has yielded tons of nice images, including the Apollo landing sites and many other probes.
This is the Apollo 11 site:
Apollo 11 landing site

Google Earth has spoiled us a bit, it uses aerial photos in addition to satellite photos, with no indication which you're looking at.

The Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter has a similar mission on Mars. It has captured photos of the Curiosity rover, including one of its landing:
Curiosity landing

Messenger has mapped Mercury.

Image quality is limited by the size of the camera. The LRO weighed 1800 kg at launch, espionage satellites (which give the best image quality we've seen) weigh 10 tons or more, and would be prohibitively expensive to send to the Moon or Mars.
We haven't had full visual mapping missions to other planets. Venus is permanently obscured by clouds, so we resorted to radar there. The gas giants have a similar problem.


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