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robertogreco : satellites   20

"In the Sonoran Desert south of Phoenix, Arizona, there is an array of giant concrete targets whose purpose was secret until about a decade ago. Each target is made of four triangular slabs that form an X about 60 feet wide. If you were to stumble across one of these strange monuments on a desert ramble, you would not see it as part of the larger array, as the targets are spaced a mile apart on a 16×16-mile grid. You might guess that it was meant to be seen from above, like the concrete arrows that guided navigation for U.S. airmail pilots, but in fact these mysterious Xs are conspicuously missing from flight maps.

They are ground-truth markers for calibrating the first spy satellites, under a Cold War program known as Corona. Installed in the mid-1960s by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the targets were left to ruin when the program was decommissioned in 1972. They were forgotten until 2004, when pilot Pez Owen traced the strange symbols she had seen from the air to the Corona program. 1

The declassified 16mm film A Point in Time tells the story of how the CIA and Air Force raced to build a space-based surveillance system after the launch of Sputnik. It must have seemed preposterous at the time: panoramic cameras filled with pounds of physical film were shot into space to take pictures of the Soviet Union and China, and then the records were sent back to Earth for analysis in heat-shielded capsules that fell through the atmosphere, shedding layers and unfurling parachutes caught by planes. After years of failed attempts, the plan actually worked.

With my colleague Damon Sauer, I have been exploring this array of ground-truth markers for the past several years. They are off Interstate 8, near the earthen building ruins of Casa Grande, interspersed among truck stops, quarries, alfalfa fields, and canals. Damon mapped the entire system, using images from Google Earth and historic aerial photographs, and we are visiting the surviving targets on foot. Our project inverts the original relation between the ground and outer space. While the Corona markers were meant to be seen from above, we have turned them into observatories for perceiving the invisible bodies in orbit today.

We plot the location of all publicly known satellites that were overhead at the moment the photograph was taken. Our images are thus documentary records, aesthetic statements, and data maps, all at once. If you look closely, you can read the names of the satellites. Some are evocative, like “Globalstar” and “Cosmos,” while others indicate the purpose or country of origin. We were astonished by the number of satellites present in the sky at any given time (an emerging sustainability issue, as myriad metallic flecks encircle the globe).

“Ground truth” is a term used in remote sensing to describe the correspondence between image data and physical features in the world. We were drawn to the term because it honors embodied or situated knowledge as a special kind of awareness, while also evoking photography’s tenuous relation to truth. Our project examines the relation between human beings and the pervasive information networks in which we are enmeshed. Our satellite tracings resemble star charts as old as civilization — a reminder that humans have always sought to orient themselves to the heavenly unknown."
photography  satellites  space  classideas  satelliteimagery  damonsauer  julieanand  skywatching 
may 2017 by robertogreco
On camera forever | The Outline
"What could you learn if you had a daily snapshot of every location on the planet?"

[via: "What satellites can’t see yet and which companies are working to change that & blacken the skies." ]
satellites  satelliteimagery  surveillance  matthewbraga  2016  earth 
december 2016 by robertogreco
San Francisco, Super Bowl Sunday | Mapbox
"We don’t often see pictures like this one. The problem is haze: as a camera in space looks toward the horizon, it sees more water vapor, smog, and other stuff in the atmosphere that obscures the Earth. But our friends at DigitalGlobe built WorldView-3 with a sensor suite called CAVIS, which lets it quantify and subtract haze – making atmospheric effects virtually invisible. Only WorldView-3 can see so clearly at this angle.

The satellite is about 17° above the horizon from San Francisco, and it is looking about 60° away from the point directly under it. At first I thought there was a typo, because 17° off horizontal should be 73° off vertical, not 61°. But while sketching it out, I realized I was assuming the ground is flat. WorldView-3 is way out over the Pacific – more than 1300 km or 800 miles to the west, and over that distance the Earth curves by about 12°!"
charlieloyd  mapbox  sanfrancisco  digitalglobe  aerialimagery  satelliteimagery  photography  satellites  2016 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Japan’s New Satellite Captures an Image of Earth Every 10 Minutes - The New York Times
"A sense of perspective is unavoidable from 22,000 miles out. Looking down at Earth from that distance — almost three times farther than the diameter of the planet itself — allows a view of the globe as a massive organic system, pulsing with continuous movement. Below, images from the Himawari-8 weather satellite's first official day paint a living portrait of the western Pacific, with Typhoons Chan-hom and Nangka spinning slowly westward.

Locked into a stationary orbit above New Guinea, the satellite takes 144 photographs of the entire planet a day, three times as many as its predecessor. The images show how weather systems evolve and help forecasters develop more nuanced models of Earth’s atmosphere.

The satellite can see features down to about a third of a mile in size — twice the resolution of similar weather satellites that watch other parts of the globe.

NOAA and NASA aim to launch a similar advanced weather satellite, GOES-R, next March. The satellite will hover over either the eastern Pacific or the Caribbean and will track weather systems moving toward the United States."
space  weather  earth  satelliteimagery  derekwatkins  2015  satellites 
july 2015 by robertogreco catalogs the active human-made machines that freckle our solar system and dot our galaxy
"We love space probes to the Moon and beyond! catalogs the active human-made machines that freckle our solar system and dot our galaxy. For each space probe, we've affectionately crafted a short-and-sweet summary as well as handpicked geeky hyperlinks we think are worth exploring. Where possible, we utilize data from the Deep Space Network.

Ariel Waldman is a human in orbit of San Francisco on a mission to create "massively multiplayer science". Waldman has traveled vast distances as part of her mission, performing flybys of Colombia, China, Kenya, Madagascar, Mexico and South Africa. The human has performed an array of operations on her journey through the solar system, including founding, directing Science Hack Day, advising NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts program, and co-authoring the National Academy of Sciences' report on the future of human spaceflight.

Lisa Ballard is a human that launched from California and maintains an orbit around the East Bay. Ballard was sent on a mission to make planetary data accessible and support the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. The human regularly sends signals to the Rings Node Planetary Data System at the SETI Institute, and Ballard’s voyage across the solar system has traversed the depths of the Pacific Ocean to the peaks of Mount Diablo. Wherever Ballard goes, she carries her trusty scuba gear, hiking supplies, cats and yoga mat for performing surveys of the planet’s landscape.

Special thanks to Nathan Bergey and Matt Biddulph for additional ground control."
arielwaldman  lisaballard  science  space  satellites  machines  2015  mattbiddulph  nathanbergey 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Homepage DD1US / Sounds from Scientific, Meteorological and Commercial Satellites
"This part of my audio collection is dedicated to commercial and scientific satellites. I started this separate section when Greg Roberts, ZS1BI in Cape Town, started to convert some of his old recordings from a tape recorder with elastic belt drives to electronic format. Greg is a retired professional astronomer and since 1957 has been actively involved in the tracking of artificial satellites, both by optical and radio means. Click on his picture to the right to get more information about him and his activities."
audio  space  fieldrecording  listening  sound  satellites  gregroberts  via:alexismadrigal 
november 2014 by robertogreco
BLDGBLOG: Through the Cracks Between Stars
"Paglen ended his lecture with an amazing anecdote worth repeating here. Expanding on this notion—that humanity's longest-lasting ruins will not be cities, cathedrals, or even mines, but rather geostationary satellites orbiting the Earth, surviving for literally billions of years beyond anything we might build on the planet's surface—Paglen tried to conjure up what this could look like for other species in the far future.

Billions of years from now, he began to narrate, long after city lights and the humans who made them have disappeared from the Earth, other intelligent species might eventually begin to see traces of humanity's long-since erased presence on the planet.

Consider deep-sea squid, Paglen suggested, who would have billions of years to continue developing and perfecting their incredible eyesight, a sensory skill perfect for peering through the otherwise impenetrable darkness of the oceans—yet also an eyesight that could let them gaze out at the stars in deep space.

Perhaps, Paglen speculated, these future deep-sea squid with their extraordinary powers of sight honed precisely for focusing on tiny points of light in the darkness might drift up to the surface of the ocean on calm nights to look upward at the stars, viewing a scene that will have rearranged into whole new constellations since the last time humans walked the Earth.

And, there, the squid might notice something.

High above, seeming to move against the tides of distant planets and stars, would be tiny reflective points that never stray from their locations. They are there every night; they are more eternal than even the largest and most impressive constellations in the sky sliding nightly around them.

Seeming to look back at the squid like the eyes of patient gods, permanent and unchanging in these places reserved for them there in the firmament, those points would be nothing other than the geostationary satellites Paglen made reference to.

This would be the only real evidence, he suggested, to any terrestrial lifeforms in the distant future that humans had ever existed: strange ruins stuck there in the night, passively reflecting the sun, never falling, angelic and undisturbed, peering back through the veil of stars.

Aside from the awesome, Lovecraftian poetry of this image—of tentacular creatures emerging from the benthic deep to gaze upward with eyes the size of automobiles at satellites far older than even continents and mountain ranges—the actual moment of seeing these machines for ourselves is equally shocking.

By now, for example, we have all seen so-called "star trail" photos, where the Earth's rotation stretches every point of starlight into long, perfect curves through the night sky. These are gorgeous, if somewhat clichéd, images, and they tend to evoke an almost psychedelic state of cosmic wonder, very nearly the opposite of anything sinister or disturbing.

Yet in Paglen's photo "PAN (Unknown; USA-207)"—part of another project of his called The Other Night Sky— something incredible and haunting occurs.

Amidst all those moving stars blurred across the sky like ribbons, tiny points of reflected light burn through—and they are not moving at all. There is something else up there, this image makes clear, something utterly, unnaturally still, something frozen there amidst the whirl of space, looking back down at us as if through cracks between the stars."

"In other words, we don't actually need Paglen's deep-sea squid of the far future with their extraordinary eyesight to make the point for us that there are now uncanny constellations around the earth, sinister patterns visible against the backdrop of natural motion that weaves the sky into such an inspiring sight.

These fixed points peer back at us through the cracks, an unnatural astronomy installed there in secret by someone or something capable of resisting the normal movements of the universe, never announcing themselves while watching anonymously from space."
satellites  astronomy  stars  ruins  2014  trevorpaglen  geoffmanaugh  theothernightsky  thelastpictures  constellations  bldgblog 
august 2014 by robertogreco
A Spacecraft for All: The Journey of the ISEE-3
[All but freezes my browser.]

"The ISEE-3 was launched to study the Sun in 1978, but ended up redenifining space flight. Now it's on a new mission to become citizen science's first spacecraft, with data accessible to everyone."
chrome  google  space  isee-3  1978  citizenscience  science  classideas  satellites  spacecraft 
august 2014 by robertogreco
6, 4: Block quotes
"So! In some of NASA’s actions you can detect a flavor of institutional hypervigilance against controversy. For example, most of what I’m in contact with is EO (Earth Observation, under what to my great pleasure was once called MTPE, Mission to Planet Earth), and for them climate change is a big, big deal. But they have to bend over backwards not to say anything that could be interpreted as even a little partisan, which is a tough move when simple, contextualized facts are very partisan. Likewise, two different people have politely reminded me that their communications are subject to FOIA, giving me the impression that they feel they have to avoid volunteering opinions outside narrow technical topics, even when they’re squeaky clean of any bias that could possibly affect the quality and independence of their work.

The impression that one sometimes gets is of a sticky note on the monitor frame reading “Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want to hear read out in Congress by someone who intends to defund your program”.

It’s a shame. You add friction to people’s work when you make them second-guess themselves and not express even well-supported, carefully framed, intellectually honest, professionally relevant opinions.

I wish the squint-inducing sunlight were felt in agencies whose failures cause secret murders, foolish wars, and the creation of surveillance states more than in an agency whose most salient failures so far – seventeen suited astronaut deaths – were caused by institutional lock-up more than by anything else. It should scare us how much Columbia was a repeat of Challenger: in both cases, a good understanding of the problem and solution was diffused within NASA, but it never converged on the point where it was needed. Too little jidoka. It’s not that transparency causes Crew Module Catastrophic Events, but there’s a chain from “we need to make sure the taxpayers are getting their money’s worth” through “let’s make sure we have solid procedures for everything” to “no, don’t just say ‘STOP! I see a problem that could kill the crew.’ to your boss; write up a nice report in rock-solid formal language” that has to be broken somewhere.

Astronaut deaths are the most salient failure, but to my mind the much bigger one is the failure to go further, which is the fault of the Executive and Legislative branches. One illustration of the problem is the Landsat program. As a series of satellites, you might assume it would be NASA’s responsibility to manage the space side of things. Nope. Obama reached over with scissors and glue to move Landsat to its own authority within the Geological Survey, because we was rightly counseled that Congress (and the presidency) cannot be trusted to fund NASA consistently enough to let it run Landsat. The consequence is very good: USGS’s Landsat operation is one of my stock examples when folks ask about doing open data right. But it bodes bogus of our handling of our primary space program when we have to take satellites away from it because we can’t trust ourselves to let it run them.

And so I see the hypervigilance as another face of the imposed institutional conservatism that has made NASA an anxious genius of an agency, never sure whether it will have the funding to do anything ambitious even after it’s been promised, tired of being scolded for not finishing what it doesn’t have the mandate to start, trying to get through a few short-sighted decades while doing justice to its domain. It’s amazing it’s as sure-handed as it is.

This, then, I think, is why we don’t see even more radical innovation from NASA: because Congress hates funding costly failures, even ones that are small and necessary parts of hugely worthwhile successes. And that’s why I doubt we’re anywhere close to the fail-hard/win-big r strategy program that Maly envisions. NSF grants are one good back door. Universal healthcare and a better social net in general is another: read Bill Gates’s “half” story and go ask a single mother who can’t afford daycare how she thinks the US economy is doing at letting her best ideas compete. I bet we’ll get there, but what happens between now and then still counts. America is waiting.

One of many causes for hope is that, even as its funding for outreach is cut, it’s NASA’s figured out how to put on a show on the web."
charlieloyd  2014  nasa  bureaucracy  universalhealthcare  healthcare  research  government  failure  science  hypervigilance  observation  imagery  congress  funding  landsat  usgs  remotesensing  earth  satellites  satelliteimagery 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Sounds from the First Satellites
"Roy Welch, W0SL, has provided these historical audio recordings of several "first" satellites as monitored at his station (then W5SLL)."
audio  history  satellites  space  sound 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Ibraaz Talks: Trevor Paglen on Aesthetics | Ibraaz
"Ibraaz Talks is a series of specially curated conversations with artists, curators and writers. Participants are invited to respond to a particular issue or keyword that addresses formal and conceptual issues affecting both their personal practices and contemporary visual culture. Initiated at Art Dubai in 2013, this latest series was staged at SALT Beyoğlu during the opening days of the 13th Istanbul Biennial. In this talk, artist Trevor Paglen and Ibraaz Senior Editor Omar Kholeif ask the question: why aesthetics? The discussion considers the notion of aesthetics in the context of a practice that often deals with ideas of anti-aesthetics. The talk takes into account a project Paglen presented during the Istanbul Biennial with Protocinema titled Prototype for a Nonfunctional Satellite (Design 4; Build 3) (2013) – a 4-metre tall model for an orbital spacecraft, which considers how such a functional object might operate in a non-functional context."
ibraaztalks  trevorpaglen  2013  aesthetics  objects  function  art  anti-aesthetics  via:javierarbona  economics  politics  taste  relationships  class  inequality  time  mortality  space  satellites  immortality  elitism 
october 2013 by robertogreco
"UK based artist James Bridle introduces a three day worksop at Fabrica entitled "Balloon Infrastructures". The history of balloon flight goes back almost 2000 years, manned flight over 200 - and as a weapon, to 1849: from Treviso. James Bridle explains the principles of grassroots mapping and balloon photography, and explores the possibilities of balloons as playful and political platforms for cartography, aerial photography, surveillance and infrastructure; their relationship to drones and satellites; and their potential as architecture."
2013  fabrica  balloons  jamesbridle  surveillance  technology  architecture  aerialphotography  photography  drones  satellites  kites  mapping  grassrootsmapping  balloonphotography  infrastructure  cartography  video  projectideas 
july 2013 by robertogreco
'Collecting' Swimming Pools And Stadiums: Art Made From Google Maps : The Picture Show : NPR
"How many baseball diamonds are there in Manhattan? According to Jenny Odell, 116. And how does she know? Because she's put in the time scouring satellite images of New York City's surface on Google Earth, collecting every sighting of a field, compiling and displaying them all at once like so: [10 images]

Odell, who was born in the Californian town of Mountain View, where Google would eventually set its roots, calls her project "Satellite Collections."

She is drawn to the parking lots, pools and silos she finds while scanning the satellite images because, she writes in an email, "they're things we often overlook or take for granted as part of our environment; but somehow, from a satellite point of view, they reveal themselves to be (somewhat) ubiquitous signs of human civilization, popping up in certain places while the surrounding area may simply be desert or mountains. From this perspective there's something very fragile and nostalgic about them.""
googleearth  satelliteimages  satellites  satelliteview  photography  art  collage  jennyodell  googlemaps  michaelwolf 
july 2011 by robertogreco
A Story of Leaving Something Behind | Geekdad from
"On Nov. 18, 2008, astronaut Stefanyshyn-Piper was doing repairs on the outside of the International Space Station when she dropped her toolbag and it floated away. [see video] Perhaps the worst thing about this particular story of a belonging left behind - aside from the thousands of dollars of lost equipment and the slim chance of it damaging the Space Station or another orbiting object -- is that the whole world can see exactly where she left it. According to the errant bag, about as big as aLost_toolbag backpack, is now orbiting Earth and can be seen through binoculars and small telescopes. Check their Satellite Tracker to find out when it will be visible over your area. Maybe one day parents will point to that bright spot in the heavens and remind their children of the story of the person Who Could Not Keep Track of Her Belongings, and how it shines in the night sky to remind us all of the importance of remembering to take your stuff when you're ready to go home."
space  satellites  internationalspacestation  lostbelongings 
november 2008 by robertogreco
ZEMOS98: Lisa Parks on Satellite Secrets: Between Spying and Dreaming - we make money not art
"Associate Professor of Film & Media Studies at of Cultures in Orbit: Satellites and the Televisual and co-editor of Planet TV: A Global Television Reader...research explores uses of satellite, computer & television technologies in transnati
art  research  spying  surveillance  satellites  television  computers  technology 
march 2008 by robertogreco the making of: The Satelloons Of Project Echo: Must. Find. Satelloons.
"From about 1956 until 1964, US aeronautics engineers and rocket scientists at the Langley Research Center developed a series of spherical satellite balloons called, awesomely enough, satelloons."
space  nasa  retro  history  satellites  balloons  satelloons 
october 2007 by robertogreco
"The Sputnik Gazette will be published irregulary during 2007, containing interviews and texts by artists and scientists regarding the Sputnik Satellite and consequent technologies such as GPS, Internet, Integrated Circuit."
sputnik  gps  internet  space  satellites  technology  magazines  art  science 
may 2007 by robertogreco

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