The Planet Labs fleet is part of a wider trend towards reducing. Satellites shrink in size and expand ambitiously. Smaller, the boats are cheaper and easier to use for a larger range of interests, and allow them, in addition to other interests, to observe the Earth's environment more fully and more regularly than ever before.
"It's incredibly significant," says S. Pete Worde, retired Air Force chief and NASA Officer, who now heads the Breakthrough Foundation. "At first they were toys, now it's revolutionary."
Over the years space was dominated by only two countries, the United States and the Soviet Union. Their designs were large: Rockets grew over 20-storey apartment blocks. The satellites expanded according to the size of urban traffic. Spy satellites are almost as large as football fields.
IPhone debut in 2007 showed new generation satellite executives that their creations can also shrink. Early models were called PhoneSats because their electronic kernels were smart phones. Satellites paid only $ 7,000 per track.
Today, relatively small missiles send high satellites to the size of handbags, backpacks and pizza boxes. Spacecraft theme with small sensors, circuits, lenses, motors, batteries and antennas. Last year, in India, one single launch on the orbit of 104 satellites, which violated the introduction of the world record.
Spacecraft came from India, Israel, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Switzerland and United Arab Emirates, and two US companies, including Planet Labs. Ghana, the West African nation, came last year to spacecraft with the satellite. Democracy is being outsourced.
Typically, a new spacecraft paid so little to build and send high that universities, and even universities, take action. On November 10, six high schools in Irvine, Calif., Attracted a handful of small crafts. Its job is to study Venus.
"It's been really great," said aviation expert Brent Freeze, who advises 160 students. "It's a way to get smart young people to talk to each other and work together."
NASA, who is a big-and-better club founder, has also joined the new wave. In May, it fired a pair of briefcase-sized vessels known to Mars Cube One's Mars – the first miniaturized probes flying the Earth's orbit. In October, after almost half a year, a trip to one of the twins took the first picture.
"In the end, seeing the planet is definitely a great victory," said mission commander Cody Colley, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Later last month, a couple flew past the red planetarium and successfully demonstrated that the gadgets could move data from the road back to Mars to Mars, which will lead the way for better exploration.
Mini, many, awesome
Obviously, huge satellites are moving regularly to the orbit, especially spy and national security. These great boats are made by some of the world's largest companies and can cost billions of dollars, which will create incentives for them to continue doing big, the aircraft's critics say.
But the small one is cheaper. After an advanced phase of experimentation, the minisites began to emerge, said Jonathan McDowell, a Harvard astronomer who follows global launches and publishes Jonathan's Space Report. The total number of spacecraft 22 kilograms or less increased from 12 to 2011, 89 to 2013, 125 to 2015, and 291 to last year. McDowell expects that the number will continue to grow as more and more groups and businesses are associated with the trend.
"The long feeling was that the space was a ripe field," he said. "It's gone now."
Many new boats make cheap traditional jobs such as crop evaluation, city mapping, signal transmission, and resource management. Wall Street analysts use new data streams to better evaluate forward contracts. Companies such as Planet Labs want to make the Earth's observations less spying than to help researchers and the public better monitor environmental change to improve management and remediation.
On December 3 SpaceX rocket in California sent aloft 64 satellites from Planet Labs and a total of 17 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Finland, Italy, Jordan, Poland, South Korea and Thailand. The rocket also carried IRVINE02, the second mini-satellite that the Irvine School students built.
The second, backpack-sized boat made in the United States is to open and bounce radar symbols on the Earth's surface – which is an important part of miniaturization. Traditional space-based radars can see at night and through the clouds, but require great antennas. Instead, Capella Space, located in San Francisco, hired an origami expert to figure out how to fold a nearly 100 square foot antenna into a tight bundle.
"It's the first of its kind," says Payam Banazadeh, CEO of the company. "A small box becomes a humonic structure."
Greater goals are ahead. The Ghanaian nation is trying to build a small spacecraft with powerful cameras of illegal mining and forest killing. Elon Musk, known for his Tesla car and SpaceX rockets, wants to build 12,000 small satellite networks that hire internet access to billions of people in rural and suburban areas around the world.
In February, when SpaceX launched two test satellites, Musk twitched the cut prose that the orbital network, Starlink, "serves the least in serving." The company plans to launch satellites next year and have a primitive network by 2020, although the possibility of space-based Internet access is unclear.
Any space trip can not use small satellites. Miniaturisation may not work on twisting telescopes used in astronomy or high power satellites that broadcast television signals to roof antennas and home viewers.
However, the appeal to smallness increases: a large task is gradually exposed to complete failure if it can be divided into many small parts. "Increasing sustainability," said Harvard astronomer McDowell. "It has been said for a long time, but now it is."
As the California fires are now under control, Planet Labs is looking for new situations that could benefit from the eye high.
"We have room geeks," Marshall, the company's head, admitted. But the goal, he added, was not just to come up with age, but to learn "how to use this technology for good."
Freeze, an adviser to high school students in the California satellite building, said he was thinking about trying to revive the stranger's temptation:
"Our team," he said, "has been working around the clock."