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Working Paper

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Ever since the earliest satellites and astronauts started taking pictures of the Earth from space nearly four decades ago, those images have inspired excitement, introspection, and, often, fear. Like all information, satellite imagery is in itself neutral. But satellite imagery is a particularly powerful sort of information, showing both comprehensive vistas and surprising detail. Its benefits can be immense—but so can its costs. The same images that remind us that we all share a fragile planet also enable those who have the images to more accurately aim their weapons at adversaries near and far.


Political Science | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration

Research Areas

Political Science

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Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

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Washington, DC

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


This paper was originally written for the conference on "No More Secrets? Policy Implications of Commercial Remote Sensing Satellites," held at the Carnegie Endowment on May 26, 1999.