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Space technology is enabling advancement on Earth

Some of the most important, consequential, and, frankly, coolest new innovations on Earth are being driven by new technology up in space.

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Satellites and the images and data they produce have long been used for crucial scientific study and vital military operations. The launch of NASA’s Nimbus program in the 1960s heralded a new age of meteorology and weather forecasting, enabling scientists to achieve a revolutionary new understanding of this planet and how humans impact it. Around the same time, satellites also became part of an expanded American defense strategy, with the CIA’s Corona satellite program providing essential intelligence during the Cold War.

With breakthroughs that have made satellites both more powerful and cheaper to launch, they are now also powering remarkable advances in cutting-edge technologies here on Earth and out in space. Among their many invaluable contributions, satellite imaging is central to rapid advances in a wide range of industries and innovations, from autonomous vehicles and 5G networks to NASA’s ambitious Mars missions.

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It’s almost hard to believe, but it wasn’t all that long ago that people were unfolding big paper maps to plan road trips and figure out how to get from one place to another. Dashboard GPS technology changed driving forever, and over time, products like Google Maps and other digital navigation services have continued to improve the experience of navigating from behind the wheel.

For the most part, mapping out the Earth for these products has been an arduous task performed by special cars that are equipped with LiDAR sensors and drive around acquiring data block by block. They were a neat development when first introduced, but a fleet of cars has serious limitations — steering around paved streets means that they can only cover so much land and offer a limited amount of information, which is in turn only sporadically updated. As both the automotive industry and other tech sectors continue to advance and expand, though, far more precise and extensive maps are needed, which is where satellite imaging comes in.

Satellites that produce high definition and multispectral imagery as well as advanced geospatial analytics are driving new developments that make navigating easier, roads safer, and rides more available. GPS is enhanced by vastly more detailed and accurate maps, which are created by satellites’ ability to capture a location’s topography and its spatial context in exacting detail. The satellites are also able to cover far more territory and return to spots many times a day for much more accurate information.

Any app that requires a user’s location relies on mapping, and the more details available, the better an experience the app can offer. Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft utilize these more precise maps to help their drivers navigate and facilitate faster and easier passenger pick-ups and drop-offs; the maps expand the areas in which companies can operate, as well. Maxar Technologies, the industry leader in high definition satellite imaging, provides rideshare services with images and data to facilitate improved service and much larger innovations. (Read More: Source: Tech Chrunch)