The Uses of Satellite Imagery

  • By Rima Chaddha and Caitlin Feeley
  • Posted 10.01.07
  • NOVA

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.

Launch Interactive Printable Version

Images from near-Earth orbit help us with everything from weather forecasting and disaster management to archeology.

This feature originally appeared on the site for the NOVA program Sputnik Declassified.



Courtesy GeoEye
(hurricane, image from TIROS, Syrian village, Telstar 1 image, U.S. temperature peak, Landsat image of Washington, D.C., ozone levels over Antarctica, Yellowstone topo map)
Courtesy NASA
(crop light spectra)
© Spot Image Society

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