Podcast #128: We chat with Kent C Dodds about why he loves React and discuss what life was like in the dark days before Git. Listen now.
49

Possibly Mecca, Google image search indirectly led me to a facebook post dated 4th September claiming to be Sergey Ryazanskiy's claiming the images were of Mecca. If this is the case the uplight may be the Makkah Royal Clock Tower, which according to wikipedia "On special occasions such as new year, 16 bands of vertical lights shoot 10 km (6.2 mi) up into ...


48

Well I confirmed via Google Maps that this is Mecca. As shown in the map and image below the roads align with those lighted in the image. The dark areas in the first image are steep hills to the East. The brightly lit region is the Kaaba and large Masjid al-Haram Mosque, and the bright up light is indeed the Makkah Royal Clock Tower.


34

Yes, but it requires exceptional resolution. The GeoEye-1 satellite has 0.41 m resolution, and it has been used to count animals. Here you can see a picture it took of wildebeests: Image Credit: ITC The black and white image is the satellite image (though GeoEye-1 can do color imagery as well in 1.65 m resolution). The tiny dots peppered across the park ...


34

It appears the answer is "no". Apollo mission reports describe night-time lights from Earth orbit, but sightings at lunar distances are notably absent. For example, The sights in earth orbit were spectacular; even on the dark side, where thunderstorms and fires in Africa captured the crew's attention. The earth-orbit timeline provided sufficient time ...


33

Don Pettit mentioned a an experiment set up with the San Antonio Astronomical Scociety who pointed both spotlights and a blue laser pointer at the ISS, pictured below in a 5-10 second exposure: I believe, but don't quote me on this, that the laser pointer was seen while the spotlight was not (with the aperture used). This is a picture from the ground, ...


27

Surprisingly, yes, in at least a few limited cases. There are aspects of astronomy that could be done by pointing a spy satellite at solar-system objects besides the Earth. As any photographer will tell you, the brightness of an extended, resolved object like a person, or the disk of a planet, does not decrease with distance between you and the object, and ...


25

Spy satellites are used to look at a really bright object: daytime Earth. This needs short exposure times, detector noise is no problem, and you want a B/W or full-color image. Astronomical telescopes are used to look at very dim objects (magnitude 20 stars), so they need far more sensitive detectors, and longer exposure times with accurate tracking. They ...


22

Millions. Meteorological satellites constantly take photos of Earth in a very wide spectrum, and the visible spectrum is a part of it, and many of these satellites travel on pretty high orbits with good overview of the whole Earth. There are many portals with these photos; finding specifically visible spectrum images may be tricky, but, say, pick any hour ...


19

It is technically possible to see big animals, but we are still far from being able to identify them without context information. For commercial satellites, the highest spatial resolution is 31 cm at nadir view (worldview-3), but only in the panchromatic band. For colors, the resolution is still very good (1m24) but only large animals are visible. Only ...


19

Yes! Gamma-ray bursts from deep space were actually first discovered by the VELA spy satellites looking for hidden nuclear tests. The original 1973 paper Observations of Gamma-Ray Bursts of Cosmic Origin (also here, Klebesadel, Strong and Olson, 1973, ApJ 182:L85-L88). The paper indicates: The observations were made by detectors on the four Vela ...


19

As discussed here, very few satellites have ever orbited at a higher altitude than the moon, making images from lunar orbiters our highest imagers of eclipses from orbit. In fact, in order to get a 1:1 ratio of the apparent sizes of the Sun and the Earth you would have to be at ~4x the altitude of the moon - right near the edge of Earth's Hill Sphere. This ...


18

4 is actually the number, as is documented in Patent US4854527. It is a tetrahedral constellation using elliptical orbits. In one hemisphere two have their further point, while the other two have the opposite coverage. The orbital period is 27 hours.


11

I like @PearsonArtPhoto's answer, though the considerations about exposure time may not be correct. I was looking for something more visual. The website states an area of 0,53m² of the Van Gogh image, and since the original is 92.1 × 73.7 cm², the large version must be about 0.817km wide. During his year in space, Scott Kelly took tons of photos, one of ...


10

The highest frequency is gamma rays, dedicated to detecting nuclear explosions on Earth. These have provided some knowledge of space events as well, due to their low selectivity, but they are intended and dedicated to detecting nuclear explosions. The first series of satellites to do this detection was the Vela satellites, which detected x-rays, gamma rays, ...


10

It's the diffuse reflection of sunlight on the oceans. If you look closely, you will see they don't occur over land - although your brain may fill in and make it look like they do until you look closely - the stripe on the east side of South America is a good example of that. The stripes follow the ground track of the satellite's orbit; as the spacecraft ...


10

Beyond LEO, once you're a few Earth radii away, far enough to see the entire planet, its nightside is a featureless black, at least to conventional cameras, in every one of the dozens of photos at http://www.planetary.org/explore/space-topics/earth/pics-of-earth-by-planetary-spacecraft.html, even the ones that show Earth as only a slim crescent. Edit: As ...


9

This is a photo of Kilauea taken from the ISS, by Drew Feustel: I can't see any obvious lava. It is possible to see hot lava from the ISS. Here's a nighttime photo of an eruption of the Etna (in March 2017), which does show a lava flow (the dark red lines in the lower left quadrant):


9

This has happened at least once, on March 4, 2012, there was an experiment to do just that. YouTube: ISS FLASH PROJECT (lower your volume first)


8

International Space Station (ISS) now hosts the High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) experiment: The High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) experiment places four commercially available HD cameras on the exterior of the space station and uses them to stream live video of Earth for viewing online. The cameras are enclosed in a temperature specific ...


8

Today, our highest-resolution gravitational maps of the Earth are from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) project, launched in 2002. That's not the case. The latest GRACE gravity model, which combines results from the GRACE and GOCE gravity missions and DTU13 is a 360x360 (degree and order) gravity model. On the other hand, the EGM2008 ...


7

If you're not asking specifically about the near IR range photogrammetry but more in a general sense, then one obvious method of detection of covert drug plantations is simply human activity around them and lack of any public records about activities in the area. So even satellite imagery in the visible spectrum could reveal access roads, air strips, piers ...


7

@BowlOfRed's comment nailed it. I'd thought about making an optical flow version but time does not allow, so I've just used screenshots and imageio found here. It looks like the spacecraft was overhead, and in fact did move many degrees (as seen from the ground) during the 17 second video of Buenos Aires. They are clearly remapping frame-by-frame using ...


7

This is related to the tradeoff between range, noise, and data resolution (i.e. precision). According to the Dundee Satellite receiving station: Bands 21 and 22 cover the same part of the spectrum but have different saturation points. Channel 21 saturates at about 500 K, and channel 22 saturates at about 335 K. Channel 22 is also less noisy. Or, as ...


6

The ISS, at it's closest, is, say, 500 km (Can be a bit closer, but let's not stretch it). That would require a FOV of 1/500, or about 0.1 degrees. That would require a camera with a lens of about 20000 mm to get a full view, given a standard sensor. That isn't going to happen! But still, a low resolution view of the image is entirely possible. The ISS's ...


6

Since SF.'s correct answer was written before Goresat became operational, I wanted to add an addendum linking to its archive of nice, color, sunlit, full-Earth images taken from L1. You will find them at https://epic.gsfc.nasa.gov/


6

None: It is practically impossible to image all of a sphere in a single shot. As mentioned in another answer there a lot of photos; BUT all of those only show half the globe. It is possible to patch photos together to give an image of the whole Earth but there are none that have been taken in a single exposure.


6

- First count of individual birds from space - First complete count of an entire species population The 4-may-2017 BBC News item Albatrosses counted from space describes an effort to automate the analysis of WorldView-3 (Wikipedia and EOPortal) photos in order to count nesting Albatrosses. It is also described in this week's BBC Podcast of Science in ...


6

There have been many reports of spy satellites being "blinded" by lasers over the years. I do not vouch for the accuracy of any of these reports. As you might imagine, hard data is difficult to come by. By the Soviet Union: "Late 1975" By the US: 1997 By China: 2006 By Iran: 2011 (search article for "laser burst")


6

Because of the way orbits work you can't have a satellite in a stationary orbit over the poles. I think a Molniya orbit would work best, that's what the Soviets (and now Russia) used for communications satellites.


6

The previous comment and answer are correct if you assume a Keplerian orbit. But if you have a propulsion system that allows a non-Keplerian orbit for a sufficient duration to achieve the objectives, then indeed there is a kind of orbit that allows such continuous observation of one pole. It's called a "pole-sitter" orbit, an idea that goes back at least to ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible