Satellites are invaluable to modern life: they help us observe the earth and plan construction, agriculture and travel. However, satellites are costly to build, launch, and operate. This means that only a limited number of satelites have been sent up in space, and only a limited number of people/organisations are able to benefit from them. Besides, most satellites are able to scan the earth only once every two weeks or so. This is rather inadequate given the pace of change effected by human activity and natural forces.
Planet Labs, a US-based startup, is therefore approaching satellite manufacure, launch and application in a way described as ‘agile aerospace.’ They aim to manufacture satellites for cheap and in large numbers, enough to photograph every place on the earth every day, by the end of 2016.
Planet Labs is part of the Global Resilience Partnership, under which it has teamed up with MetaMeta Research in its efforts to optimize road design for water harvesting in Ethiopia. With daily satellite data about local hydrology and natural resources informing the design process, it can be ensured that the roads benefit the comunities and natural resources that it affects.
In this video, Taye Alemayehu from MetaMeta Ethiopia discusses the potential of small satellites to boost resillient ecosystems and achieve food security, with Joe Mascarano from Planet Labs.