How Satellites Could Revolutionize Journalism and Storytelling

How Satellites Could Revolutionize Journalism and Storytelling

~ From Slate Magazine ~
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Image courtesy DigitalGlobeWhen Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket exploded over Cape Canaveral, Florida, June 28, its entire payload of supplies to the International Space Station was destroyed. Also lost were the eight tiny satellites owned by Planet Labs—a self-styled agile space company with ambitions to provide a high-resolution picture of the entire planet every day for at least the next 20 years.Planet Labs’ founders say they’re part of both a blossoming ecosystem of space industry startups and an ongoing revolution in electronics and sensing. That ecosystem meant that the massive SpaceX failure didn’t spell ruin for Planet Labs. It was able to get 14 new satellites into space less than 60 days after the explosion—a recovery time unthinkable in the previous era.Planet Labs’ rapid recovery is indicative of a new technological trend in a rather unexpected field. This generation of remote sensors—which can be quickly produced, deployed, and adjusted—will power new opportunities for journalism. Indeed, the most innovative practitioners are already honing their skills to use satellites’ data and imagery. But although the new space-startup ecology gives Planet Labs an astounding resilience and has some newsrooms excited, these developments have also sent policymakers, ethicists, and lawyers scrambling to catch up.

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