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What Are Satellites Used For? – Earth Observation

Steven Blood General News

Satellites have been in orbit for over 60 years, and the data from these satellites have many applications. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that satellites are used in Earth Observation (EO) and Navigation.


Satellites enable us to monitor the climate continuously. They help us understand change at a global scale and provide new insights multiple times per day on things like pollution levels, deforestation and temperature. All this information can then be used to inform government policy and the development of new technologies.

Ocean Observation

Over 70% of the earth is water, so it’s no surprise that satellites are used to retrieve a huge amount of data from our oceans and seas. Sea temperature and glacial activity are accurately measured, with changes identified over time. Sea colour and its changes help fisheries and coastal businesses forecast and plan their activities.

Climate Monitoring

The significant advancement in technology has been able to track the change in the earth’s climate. Accurate measurement of ozone trends helped identify the man-made impact on the ozone layer.

The impact of climate change is carefully monitored, together with the effects of desertification and deforestation, which feeds into government policy.

Mapping and Navigation

Satellites have helped with navigation and earth mapping since inception. Through Global Navigation Satellite Systems, most notably GPS, you can easily find your way to your nearest café or petrol station through your mobile phone. EO satellites are also used to map out vegetation, agricultural growth and forestry planning for land management to name a few.

Commercial Uses

Data from satellites have multiple uses in commercial organisations such as forestry, construction, agriculture and transport businesses.  

The Scottish Space Incubator, run by SoXSA and Tontine, are looking for businesses who use space technology as part of their business. A fully-funded year of incubation is on offer at the centre of the sector in Scotland.

Find out more and apply now.