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Space

Swarms of Small Satellites Set To Deliver Close To Real-Time Imagery of Earth 112

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the mantrid-arm-thingies-with-cameras dept.
ananyo writes "A swarm of small satellites set to deliver close to real-time imagery of swathes of the planet is launching today. San Francisco-based Planet Labs, founded in 2010 by three former NASA scientists, is scheduled to launch 28 of its 'Doves' on 9 January. Each toaster-sized device weighs about 5 kilograms and can take images at a resolution of 3–5 metres. Meanwhile Skybox Imaging plans to launch a swarm of 24 satellites, each weighing about 100 kilograms, which will take images of 1 meter resolution or better. Skybox launched its first satellite on 21 November (and captured the first HD video of the world from space) and plans to launch another this year, followed by the remainder between 2015 and 2017. In a first — at least for civilian satellites — Skybox's devices will also stream short segments of near-live high-resolution video footage of the planet. So, too, will UrtheCast, a start-up based in Vancouver, Canada, whose cameras will hitch a ride on the International Space Station. Because the swarms are still to be launched, scientists have yet to fully assess the quality of the imagery. But the satellites' spatial resolutions of 1–5 metres are much higher than those of most scientific satellites. Landsat, NASA's Earth-observation workhorse, for example, has a resolution of 15–100 metres depending on the spectral frequency, with 30 metres in the visible-light range."
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Swarms of Small Satellites Set To Deliver Close To Real-Time Imagery of Earth

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  • by Russ1642 (1087959) on Thursday January 09, 2014 @03:57PM (#45910065)

    Orbital space is very very very large. Vast. Immense. It is damn near impossible for it to be cluttered. Don't buy into the FUD.

  • So basically (Score:4, Insightful)

    by koan (80826) on Thursday January 09, 2014 @04:00PM (#45910099)

    Creepy.

  • Re:HD (Score:4, Insightful)

    by icebike (68054) on Thursday January 09, 2014 @04:06PM (#45910179)

    The sats that are small (Doves) get only 3-5 meter resolution.
    The much larger Skybox 1 meter resolution are not that small, weighing 100kg.

    3 to 5 meters misses car sized objects, or at best maps them into a single pixel.
    (Although by combining many subsequent frames you could achieve a better simulated resolution).

    So this is not likely to be useful for much besides measuring snowfall, forest fires, and storms.
    The 1 meter Skybox may be of greater interest, because you could track cattle and traffic in real time given enough of them in orbit.

    But 24 or 28 units aren't going to be able to support much useful coverage, as they would be hard pressed target more than a couple location of interest at a time. (Which is a good thing, in light of all the governmental spying).

  • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Thursday January 09, 2014 @05:33PM (#45911205)

    Orbital space is very very very large. Vast. Immense. It is damn near impossible for it to be cluttered. Don't buy into the FUD.

    Yes, like the oceans. Infinite in size! We could never pollute that much!

Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed. -- Francis Bacon

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