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Flying Toasters

CubeSats are poised to take off in a big way this year, per Financial Times and Wired UK writer Tim Hartford. Easy and inexpensive to manufacture and launch, these toaster-sized mini-satellites are able to grab all kinds of imagery that previously might have been too specific or expensive to undertake. Startups such as Planet Labs already have 200 CubeSats in orbit, and it’s estimated that more than 1 million high-res images of the earth will be taken every day this year. Couple that with the increased accessibility and power of machine learning, and the result is that much meaning and value—everything from environmental impact to economic forecasting—can be extracted from all those pictures.
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