Research 09/021
The Apocalyptic Camouflage Generated by Satellite Imagery

Artificial satellites have been orbiting the outermost parts of our planet since 1957 when the Soviet Union launched the now-famous Sputnik 1. Since then, more than 8,900 satellites have been launched from more than 40 different countries around the world, with more than 5,000 being in orbit right now.

Beyond what they report to those on the ground, and the many great advancements they have helped man achieve, their visual reportage has become a bank of inspiring textures and forms. Documenting everything from active volcanos and mysterious land art, to the patina of planets far departed from our own, satellites are actively helping us re-contextualize and understand the solar system’s most complex forms.

While their role remains integral to processes such as cartography, meteorology, environmental monitoring, communication, space exploration and much more, artificial satellites and technology’s democratization have seen billions around the world exploring the world from above. Be it from a mobile phone, tablet, or laptop, satellite technology has spurred on those with a natural curiosity to scour the internet’s digital maps in much the same way they would do if they were on the ground.

If it weren’t for Sputnik 1 setting the tone for a new means of exploration, the world’s many peculiarities may have remained undiscovered, and its alien, camouflage-esque patterning may have never seen the light of our digital screens.

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