Fifty three years ago, on 31 January 1958, the first satellite for the observation of Earth was launched. Explorer 1 was the first satellite sent into orbit by the United States of America. In October 1957 the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1 into space thus beginning the Cold War space race.
Today, more than 2,000 satellites are circling the Earth. Some are communication satellites only, but most satellites are built to observe the Earth. Optical systems on satellites like GeoEye or RapidEye (both private) allow optical resolutions of up to 50 centimetres, providing spectacular views of the Earth surface...
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