Scientists Today are using Satellite Photos More for Humanitarian Need Rather Than Espionage

by Muna wa Wanjiru - Date: 2006-12-24 - Word Count: 535 Share This!

Have you ever had the opportunity of seeing real life satellite photos? Well, in the past few weeks, I've had the pleasure of seeing real life satellite photos, not once, but twice. And believe me when I say that on both occasions, I was blown away. The first time I got to see satellite photos was at a recent exhibition titled 'Earth from above', which was organized by a renowned French photographer, who specialized in aerial photography. While they were technically not satellite photos, some of them had in fact been taken from very high above and resembled satellite photos. The second occasion was a direct outcome of the first as I scoured the local library for more information on Satellite photos. I finally found a book that was able to give me the lowdown on real satellite photos. The book opened my eyes.

Till I had a chance to get interested in the subject, I ha always believed that satellite photos were photos taken by satellites or from satellites. And quite frankly, that is a definition that seems to hold good even now, after I have learnt more about the subject. Originally, satellite photos were taken by man made satellites that orbited the earth. The purpose was also pretty straightforward. These images wee used for research and study of various weather phenomena. Being based on earth, there is no way that even the best of photographers can track weather. Hence, satellite photos that serve this need are a unique service. Since the first satellite was launched, a wide range of information in the form of satellite photos has been streaming back to earth. And our meteorologists and weather scientists have been able to better understand climate and weather phenomena.

But the hey day of satellite photos can be considered to have come about with advances in espionage. Most countries with satellites used their eye in the sky to take satellite photos of enemy installations, terrain information and weather conditions in order that they could better plan their attack or defense strategy. This too was information that could not be obtained in any other way and helped those countries with superior technology, better economies and access to millions of dollars for research and development to obtain, study and implement their strategies based on the information present in satellite photos. The latest example of how satellite photos have been able to help America was witnessed in the capture of Iran and the subsequent raiding of Afghanistan. Without the information provided by satellite photos, both of these would not have been the successes that they are being touted to be.

In the present day, satellite photos serve a more humanitarian need. People like environmentalists and even agriculturists use the information provided by satellite photos to better understand the global changes occurring all over the plant. The information provided by satellite photos also helps them quickly and efficiently identify regions that are threatened and act accordingly to save them. Such activities have given satellite photos less nefarious significance and have made them popular among academicians and wildlife enthusiasts alike.

Muna wa Wanjiru has been researching and reporting on Satellite Surveillance for years. visit his site at

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