With the goal of capturing frequent snapshots that show the planet's changes in real-time without breaking bank, California company Planet Labs has revealed its plan to launch 28 teensy satellites called "Doves" to space. Existing imaging satellites are extremely expensive to make and usually capture huge pictures that take days to send back. Each Dove, however, consists of relatively affordable 10-centimeter-wide Lego-like building blocks called CubeSats and will quickly beam back mid-res photos. The firm has yet to mention how many CubeSats will go into each Dove, but the two test satellites launched in April (see sample images they took at the source below) had three pieces each. If everything goes off without a hitch, the fleet could be orbiting the Earth at a low altitude as soon as December. Once operational, we can use the pictures they send to update online maps and monitor melting ice caps, deforestation, or even traffic jams.
[Image credit: NASA]