Sputnik Declassified
What Satellites See
Launch interactive

What Satellites See

The earliest satellites played key roles in the Cold War, allowing the Soviet Union and the United States to spy on each other under the public guise of conducting scientific research. But as imaging technology improved, scientific applications became a reality. While some satellites now look outward to tell us more about the distant universe, most focus on the world around us, revealing information on everything from upcoming weather to natural disasters, from ancient roadways to the spread of disease. In this slide show, explore nine scientific and practical applications made possible by Earth-orbiting satellites.—Rima Chaddha and Caitlin Feeley

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