Our planet is constantly monitored by hundreds of space-borne instruments. This book describes the technology of those instruments and the sciences that provide useful information from them. It also discusses the political implications of space-borne monitoring.
From the moment satellites were launched into orbit their ability to see what was happening on a global scale was appreciated -- and feared. This well researched book strives to answer such diverse questions as: Are satellites really a threat to individual privacy? How bad, really, is climate change and global warming? Why can't we find Osama bin Laden? Does the world have enough fresh water?
The military side of the story is linked to the big security issues that we face, such as terrorism and civil wars. The civilian side of the story involves numerous successful collaborations in weather forecasting, navigation, communications, and other such "peaceful" uses of satellite surveillance.
How the world handles the knowledge gained from these Earth watchers will be critical in the years to come, and Norris skillfully leads us through the issues and possible paths we can take.
About the Author
Watching Earth from Space derives from the author's unique experience of being part of the team that developed Europe's first and Japan's latest generations of weather satellites, of using satellite images to monitor the UK potato and sugar beet crops, and helping to define the use of satellites to monitor global change and prevent nuclear war.
Pat Norris's direct access to politicians, civil servants, technologists, and both military and civilian users of space images worldwide has also proved essential to the accuracy of the story told in this book.
This book is the natural successor to Pat Norris's book on the origins of spy satellites: Spies in the Sky (Springer-Praxis, 2008), which told the story of the first military satellites to monitor the Earth.