Space Products and Services
Governance, Education, and Infrastructure
In September 2007, a search-and-rescue mission for missing aviator Steve Fossett was aided by volunteers who never left their homes. Instead of combing forests and mountains, these searchers scanned digital satellite images provided by the commercial remote sensing firms GeoEye and DigitalGlobe for signs of Fossett’s downed plane.
In response to the tragic events at Virginia Tech in the spring of 2007, several colleges have begun distributing GPS phones with tracking devices to students.
Vehicle tracking technologies are developing in sophistication to support consumer safety applications. A number of automakers now provide in-vehicle GPS devices that can monitor location, speed, use of safety belts, and the presence of passengers.
Police use GPS technology in a number of novel applications. Embedded GPS chips are replacing exploding dye packs as a more efficient way to foil bank robbers in some U.S. cities. The practice allows officials to track stolen money with unprecedented precision.
Several product lines of fiber optic-based stress and strain analyzers have been created from a NASA technology spinoff developed to monitor structural strain on the Space Shuttle. The technology is unique because it can analyze stress and strain on components without requiring the disassembly of the Space Shuttle.
The VideoSat for Distance Learning program leverages satellite broadband and broadcast capabilities to provide continuing medical education. The new system, under development in 2008 by ESA and industry partners, aims to improve upon previous satellite-based distance learning systems by innovative use of video simulation technology supported by a user-friendly set-top box.
Beijing Olympic organizers used remote sensing data from a U.S. satellite to analyze aerosol levels in and around Beijing before the games. The data enabled researchers to pinpoint reasons for the pollution and suggest ways to reduce it.
One of the key challenges in a flood involves getting timely and accurate information regarding flood-affected areas. Satellite imagery can mitigate the magnitude of flood damage by providing response teams with an overall image of the flooded area.
Scandicraft, a Norwegian unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) service provider, has developed a system that “geotags,” or marks the physical location of, aerial images from a disaster area and uploads the images via satellite link within minutes.
Many public service applications require fusion of information from a variety of sources, including space. A few examples include emergency response, land use planning, and the monitoring of critical infrastructure.