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On satellite imagery and sand mafia

The cost of launching satellites is going down, be it in the US or in India. Smaller and easier to develop micro-satellites are the latest trend, usually developed with a specific goal in mind e.g. satellite imagery. These, and a lot of other factors, have contributed to an increase in the number of satellites hovering over earth in the recent years, a number which is bound to only keep increasing.

ISRO recently put 88 (micro) satellites belonging to Planet Labs, satellites which Planet Labs will use to image the Earth everyday. ISRO and other government space organizations themselves have satellites that image the Earth and/or their respective countries on a regular basis. And a number of these organizations are releasing their data publicly.

With that context, I realized a while back that daily imagery will help identify and possibly curb sand mafia, specifically in India. The boom in infrastructure, specifically housing and office construction in India, was one of the reasons why t…

On Drones, Caves and the Ocean.

My fascination of drones is growing day after day. Of all the areas drones can be used, I want to talk about exploration for the moment. You might be wondering, what exploration? All corners of the Earth have been explored and there's nothing else to discover. Au Contraire. Correction. The surface of the Earth has been explored, not what's underneath.

NASA and other space organizations have been sending out satellites and telescopes to understand what's out there but similar efforts aren't being made to understand unexplored caves and the depths of the ocean.

Two articles that I read recently drove this point home for me; one on exploring a cave formation in Uzbekistan and another on exploring the Indian Ocean's floor. The first is an account of a team of scientists' and explorers' attempt at exploring a cave formation and discovering new regions of the cave. The second is an account of how the search for the missing MH370 flight also led to a detailed stu…