satellites

What's The Point Of A Fly-By When We Have The Tech To Go Into Orbit?

New Horizons’ fly-by of Pluto and its moons is the latest in a historic string of missions to objects in the solar system. But given that a fly-by lasts for just a short time, how much can we really get out of it? There’s no doubt that the mission will yield a great deal of interesting data, but surely more would be gained if the spacecraft could go into orbit for a number of days or actually land on the surface and take physical samples.


The Algerian Sahara Looks Stunning From Orbit

When you think “Sahara desert” your mind’s eye probably conjures images of tawny, windswept dunes stretching monotonously into the horizon. But satellites have a way of giving us a strikingly different, often much more interesting view of our world.


The Most Beautiful Landscapes From 10 Years Of Google Earth

Exactly 10 years ago, Google uploaded an announcement to its press page: Google Launches Free 3D Mapping and Search Product!

Google Earth turns 10 today, and to celebrate, the engineering team added 1500 new images to its great Earth View project, where it collects the most compelling images recorded by its source satellites.


A Space Lawyer Explains How We'll Forge A Civil Society Off Earth

Without even looking a century or so ahead when we’ll take a Virgin Galactic flight to spend our summers on Europa, there are many legal issues that are already confronting humanity in space. That’s why space lawyers are plenty busy today examining the particular economic and societal challenges found where Earth ends and space begins.


The San Francisco Bay Area From 640 Kilometres Above The Earth's Surface

This shot was taken by Landsat this spring and beyond being unbelievably beautiful, it’s also a great example of what Landsat does best: Give scientists a macro look at land cover, urban patterns, and geological features.


Amateur Satellite Trackers Found The Secret X-37B Space Plane In Orbit

The US Air Force’s supersecret X-37B was launched into orbit for the fourth time last week, and amateur satellite watchers have promptly identified its secret orbit — also for the fourth time. There is, you see, a small army of amateurs who keep track of over 300 spy satellites, often with little more than a pair of binoculars.


The Himalayas Dropped Almost A Metre After The Nepal Earthquake

The earthquake in Nepal was so violent it moved mountains. Satellite imagery shows that the parts of the Himalayas sank three feet (91cm) — and the area around it as much as five feet (152cm) — as tectonic plates snapped under extreme pressure. But the mountains will regain their height, slowly but surely, thanks to the geologic forces at work.


The FAA Is Switching To Satellites For Air Traffic Control

As unnerving as it is to hear, air traffic control has always been pretty piecemeal. Relying on a combination of instrumentation — namely, radar, radios, and GPS — as well as good old-fashioned eyeballs, pilots do a pretty good job navigating the sky. But they’re about to get a lot better with a new satellite-based system.


The Minority Report Of Famine Prediction Knows Where To Send Aid

On a day spent dodging Periscope unboxings of Apple Watches on the other side of the country, it’s difficult to believe that there’s too little information in the world. But when it comes to life-and-death predictions of agriculture in Africa, our system is woefully inadequate, and the only hope is space.


Why We Need A Better Way To Kill Satellites

2465. That’s the number of satellites that are whipping gracefully around the Earth as you read this.