Managing the Planet’s Future: The Crucial Role of Space

Part of the Springer Praxis Books book series (PRAXIS)


Throughout the previous chapters we have discussed the most potentially serious natural and anthropogenic hazards that confront our planet and challenge our capability to survive on it. They define the requirements for the tools to be developed in order to improve our understanding and to forecast and, whenever possible, control them and limit their consequences. Only recently have we been able to observe our planet ‘from above’ with aircraft and balloons. Space systems have been available for some decades. Depending on the altitude of the satellite, it is possible to get global, regional or local views with increasing resolution, from a few kilometers, down to meters or even centimeters in the case of military surveillance, as narrower field observations give information on local phenomena, on regional policies or even on individuals. Satellites are the only means we have to observe the Earth in its entirety, offering a nearly instantaneous snapshot on the physical status of the whole planet. The historical picture taken by the Apollo 8 astronauts in orbit around the Moon remains not only the symbol of our capability to reach and explore our mythic natural satellite, but has also given us the first global view of the planet on which we live, forcing us to reflect on its limits and its fragility.


Solar Wind Total Electron Content Coronal Mass Ejection Synthetic Aperture Radar Space Weather 
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© Praxis Publishing Ltd. 2008

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