Satellites are cool. To begin with, just the sheer fact that we've managed to get the technology into orbit makes them cool. Throw in their uses - from monitoring the movement of great white sharks to looking for asteroids streaking towards Earth - and they become even more amazing.

Here we take a look at some of the most recent technology advances and deployments.


When great white sharks were recently spotted off the coast of Massachusetts in the US, scientists used the opportunity to tag the creatures with electronic tags that use satellite technology to record their travels.

The tags are known as PAT (pop-up archival transmitting) tags that attach to the dorsal fin of the shark and record its actions via the Argos research satellite network.

According to researchers, PAT tags do not have to be recovered. Rather, after a predetermined time, they break away from the fish and float to the surface, and then transmit data to Argos satellites.

NASA's Moon blaster

On its current space scouting mission, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is using a pumped-up communications device to deliver 461GB of data and images per day, at a rate of up to 100Mbps.

As the first high-data-rate K-band transmitter to fly on a NASA spacecraft, the 13in-long tube, called a Travelling Wave Tube Amplifier, is making it possible for NASA scientists to receive massive amounts of images and data about the Moon's surface and environment in preparation for a possible landing there in the future.

NEXT PAGE: Satellites on the cheap

  1. We look at some of the most advanced technology that's in orbit
  2. Satellites on the cheap
  3. The virtual satellite network
  4. The asteroid hunter
  5. The US FAA's satellite system