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Commercial Observation Satellites
At the Leading Edge of Global Transparency
by Rick Smith (June 11, 2001)


You hear on the news that satellites are watching you, or that satellite imagery is being used to find a nuclear test site. Since many of these stories tend to appear during TV "sweeps" periods, you never really get much in-depth information from a reliable source. The book Commercial Observation Satellites delves into these issues to a much greater extent that any news program could. Co-published by RAND and the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, this book explains policy issues, details satellite sensing programs from different countries and describes the international security implications of satellite imagery.

Like most technology, the use of satellite images is a two-edged sword that can be used for either good or evil. On the good side, images can be used to help encourage economic development and contribute to international security. On the evil side, images can be used by aggressive countries and terrorists to discover and exploit weaknesses in their opponents. The three editors of Commercial Observation Satellites describe and give examples of the current satellite technology and challenge mankind to find ways to balance the risks of using this information with its positive benefits.

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decision making through research and analysis. The American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) is an international organization of over 7,000 geospatial data professionals. It is devoted to advancing knowledge and improving the understanding of the mapping sciences in order to promote the responsible usage of this technology.

Commercial Observation Satellites is 644 pages (over 24 chapters) and is available in paperback (ISBN: 0-8330-2951-7, $80.00) or hardcover (ISBN: 0-8330-2872-3, $90.00)

Copyright 2006 Rick Smith All rights reserved.

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