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A recently deployed fleet of tiny satellites from the International Space Station could help explain potential unexplained aviation situations similar to the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.

Planet Labs, a satellite imagery company based in San Francisco, organized the initial set of satellites to be released from the International Space Station in February, however those are in their testing phase.

Chris Hadfield, a retired astronaut who commanded the space station last year, spoke about  the new technology at the TED2014 conference earlier this week.

He said that eventually the shoebox-sized satellites will be able to travel over the entire planet and provide frequently updated images at a resolution down to approximately 13 feet.

Hadfield said this type of technology could have helped in a mystery such as the whereabouts of the missing Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777.

Planet Labs co-founder, and former NASA scientist, William Marshall said the technology provides a way to monitor and respond to disaster situations.

“Planet Labs just last month deployed a fleet of 28 satellites, Flock 1, from the International Space Station. This is the largest Earth imaging constellation in history,” Marshall said.

“We are turning on each of the satellites and are now putting them into position. With this constellation, we will measure the planet on a more regular basis to enable various applications. One of those applications is disaster response, including natural and man-made disasters. Other applications range from monitoring deforestation to helping to improve agricultural yields to monitoring urban growth.”
 

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