satellites

Tiny Changes In Earth's Gravity Can Help Predict Floods Months Away

When the Missouri River spilled over its banks in a catastrophic 2011 flood, we could have seen it coming — from space, that is. There’s more to the story than meets the eye: the satellites don’t take photos of snowpacks or rivers, but rather, they detect tiny changes in gravity over the Earth’s surface to track water.


US Satellites Are Now Cleared To Take Photos At Mailbox-Level Detail

The US Department of Commerce just lifted a ban on satellite images that showed features smaller than 50cm. The largest satellite imaging firm in the US, Digital Globe, asked the government to lift the restrictions and can now sell images showing details as small as a 30cm. A few centimetres may seem slight, but this is actually a big deal.


Monster Machines: This Six-Minute Satellite Studies Star Nurseries

Not every scientific exploration of the cosmos requires a multi-year, multi-billion dollar effort a la the Hubble Space Telescope Program. In fact, sometimes all it requires is a reusable sounding rocket, an ultraviolet camera, and six minutes in space.


NASA's Lost Satellite Just Made Its First Contact With Earth In 17 Years

It’s official: ISEE-3, the 36-year-old satellite that NASA left for dead over a decade ago, is back in touch with humankind. Today, a group of citizen scientists who raised almost $US160,000 to fund the process of taking control of ISEE-3 announced that two-way contact has been established with the little satellite that could. So what’s next?


NASA Is Letting Citizens Commandeer A Long-Lost Satellite

Yesterday, NASA officially granted permission to a group of scientists and enthusiasts who want to do what NASA can’t afford: make contact with a 36-year-old satellite called ISEE-3 that’s still capable of taking directions for a new mission. It’s the first agreement of its kind — and it could hint at where the space industry is going.


A Giant Ball Of Fire Fell From The Sky In North Queensland

Yesterday evening, residents of Townsville in north Queensland looking out their windows would have seen a massive fireball in the evening sky. A meteor, or possibly a chunk of an old satellite, falling to Earth made for an impressive twilight light show.


Monster Machines: This Cold War Test Bed Irradiated Satellites Before The Soviets Could

How do you ensure that fancy new military satellite is tough enough to withstand an orbital EMP attack by the Soviets? By shooting it with your own nuclear bomb using this massive, movable test chamber, obviously.


Report: Russia Will Shut Down All US GPS Stations Within Its Borders

Russia Today has unconfirmed reports that Russia announced today a plan to shut down all 11 American-run GPS stations within Russian territory starting June 1. Russia has also threatened to stop supplying the rocket engines the US uses to launch military satellites into orbit.


NASA's New Orbiter Will Watch Plants Photosynthesise From Space

For the last 25 years, scientists have been able to monitor the “greenness” of trees from space and use that as a tool for evaluating plant health. The problem is that greenness isn’t a good indicator for stresses — such as drought — because some trees (think pines) continue to be a lovely green until they’re dead. Researchers are thus turning to a new indicator: the way plants glow.


Views Of A Dark World: Illuminating Unseen Infrastructure

For a global society highly dependent on complex technical, economic and political systems, we manage to carry on our daily routines largely unaware of the hard and soft infrastructure — from pipes to policies — on which these systems rest. That is, until unexpected events, so-called black swans, illuminate the previously hidden pieces and surprise or unsettle us by their presence and function.