“Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty." 

- Albert Einstein

Satellites: Technological Advantage or Intrusion?

Updated: Sep 2, 2020

Kate Byng-Hall weighs up the numerous benefits of satellites alongside the darker side of human technology in the sky.

Photo by Antonio Grosz

Since the launch of the Sputnik satellite in 1957, the UN Satellite Registry has recorded over 9000 objects being launched into the Earth’s orbit. Despite thousands of these no longer being operational, many of them remain above us – the atmosphere is gradually filling up with our technology, and consequently also our waste.

Satellite technology offers us countless valuable insights into what’s going on in our planet, but the extent of the information they can garner is also leading to concern about possible privacy breaches as the tech continues to advance.

The Advantages

Without satellite technology, the world could not operate in the way we’re used to.  Satellites form the infrastructure which provides us with GPS systems. Without them, we’d have no Satnavs, no Snapchat Maps, and no Google Maps – essentially, we’d all be lost half the time. The technology works through a network of signals between our devices and 24 satellites around the world which ascertain our exact positioning on the planet, as well as everything around us.   

Satellites are used to assist in environmental monitoring, as censors in the sky can be used to track CO2 emissions. NASA uses aerosol technology in their satellites to detect particles in the air from volcanos, dust storms and greenhouse gases. Sentinel censors can even differentiate between naturally-released and man-made CO2. German manufacturer