Tuesday, November 18, 2008

CNES e-CORCE: Earth At One Meter Every Week

The French Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) has come up with an innovative satellite remote-sensing system capable of generating a high-resolution picture of Earth on the Web, refreshed every week. Four patents have already been filed for the concept, called e-CORCE that could start broadcasting on the Internet by 2014.

Although still on paper, the plan is to use a constellation of thirteen low cost micro satellites capable of imaging the globe at a resolution of one meter. Each of these orbiting webcams would use a smart "spycho-visual" compression scheme to drastically reduce the amount of data to be transmitted in real time to a grid of fifty ground stations connected to the Internet.

Whether this particular project will become a reality or not, it shows what the current trends in micro satellites technologies, data compression and grid computing will allow in the near future. How privacy groups, military and security agencies around the world will react to it remains to be seen though.

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