Satellite communications is the most mature of space applications.
At first, satellite performance was very limited. To compensate for this, very large ground stations with dish antennas more than 20 meters in diameter were required to establish links with them.
The use of satellites was limited to long distance telephony and to the transport of television signals between studios.
Today telecommunications satellites are part of our daily lives. Many everyday activities rely on telecommunication satellites that are in orbit, almost 36 000 kilometers above our heads.
For example, in telecommunications, the use of artificial satellites to provide communication links between various points on Earth. Satellite communications play a vital role in the global telecommunications system.
Approximately 2,000 artificial satellites orbiting Earth relay analog and digital signals carrying voice, video, and data to and from one or many locations worldwide.
NASA satellites help scientists study Earth and space. They also measure gases in the atmosphere, such as ozone and carbon dioxide, and the amount of energy that Earth absorbs and emits. Satellites also monitor wildfires, volcanoes and their smoke. All this information helps scientists predict weather and climate.
Then there is the very important area of military satellite communications. The most common missions are intelligence gathering, navigation and military communications. The first military satellites were photographic reconnaissance missions.
One new use for satellite communications is satellite-based location technology that is capable of finding people on foot or in vehicles that could change the way many companies interact with their customers.
It could, in fact, revolutionize web retailing by allowing stores, hotels and restaurants to identify nearby customers and lure them inside with advertising and coupons.
However, it remains to be seen whether consumers will want marketers to be able to track them or whether they will view that capability as a privacy invasion.
Despite the uncertainties, analysts said companies have no choice but to prepare to offer location-specific services to mobile customers.
The market potential may be in the billions of dollars.
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