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Baby Satting

from SF Gate

Satellite technology puts into orbit swarms of spacecraft no bigger than a loaf of bread

Christian Davenport, The Washington Post

The Superdove mini-satellite manufactured by Planet.
The Superdove mini-satellite manufactured by Planet. Photo by Planet Labs

The avalanche was a stunning disaster, 247 million cubic feet of glacial ice and snow hurtling down the Tibetan mountain range at 185 mph. Nine people and scores of animals were killed in an event that startled scientists around the world.

As they researched why the avalanche occurred with such force, researchers studying climate change pored over images taken in the days and weeks before and saw that ominous cracks had begun to form in the ice and snow. Then, scanning photos of a nearby glacier, they noticed similar crevasses forming, touching off a scramble to warn local authorities that it was also about to come crashing down.

The images of the glaciers came from a constellation of satellites no bigger than a shoe box, in orbit 280 miles up. Operated by San Francisco-based company Planet, the satellites, called Doves, weigh just over 10 pounds each and fly in “flocks” that today include 175 satellites. If one fails, the company replaces it, and as better batteries, solar arrays and cameras become available, the company updates its satellites the way Apple unveils a new iPhone.

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Posted on April 6, 2021 by Editor

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