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Frequently Asked Questions

How many satellites are in space right now?

Right now, there are nearly 6,000 satellites circling our tiny planet. About 60% of those are defunct satellites—space junk—and roughly 40% are operational. As highlighted in the chart above, The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), determined that 2,666 operational satellites circled the globe in April of 2020.

What does satellite map show?

Looking at a satellite image, you see everything between the satellite and the ground (clouds, dust, haze, land) in a single, flat plane. This means that a white patch might be a cloud, but it could also be snow or a salt flat or sunglint. The combination of context, shape, and texture will help you tell the difference.

What satellite is used to map the ocean floor?

The maps were created through computer analysis and modeling of new satellite altimetry data from the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2 and from the NASA-CNES Jason-1, as well as older data from missions flown in the 1980s and 90s. CryoSat-2 was designed to collect data over Earth’s polar regions, but it also collected measurements over the oceans.


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