It is an old proverb warning you, stating not to believe everything you see or Hear, as it may not be a complete truth. In real life, we understand the wisdom of elders and thus consider such advice but when it comes to space- science-and-technology, we neglect such information and try to become Gods, taking over nature and somewhere inviting nature’s fury. Satellites have eased out a lot of things for us. With every rocket launched, resources worth crores are invested in identifying what is happening around us and on our planet. Perhaps we are right in doing that, but how do we validate our findings? Whatever we conclude from what we see is mere hypothesis and not an established fact.
In the world of Science and technology, assumptions are inviting, since it is with these conceptualizations that theory takes shape. The point is just that how much we believe in what we see using these satellites and how much should we have thought in.
Apollo 17 captured some iconic images of earth from the space in the year 1972. It was described as the Blue Marble by Biochemist Gregory Petsko – “perfectly representing the human condition of living on an island in the universe.” The image is said to have marked the beginning of environmental activism in the United States of America. Satellite images are undoubtedly revolutionary, and it is similar to living in a high rise building and getting to see the entire town in just one glimpse. But just like there are illusions on earth, there must be illusions in the Space too. That’s why we have heard of the availability of water on other members of our solar system but have never found any. Just because it is a machine, it can’t be that reliable.
Satellite images are a powerful way to understand this planet, but equally important is to understand the limitations of technology, lest we should get mislead. Satellite images have helped us identify the probabilities of natural disasters and even the human-made ones like the slaughter of Rohingya Muslims in Bangladesh. They have assisted us in putting off forest fires and monitoring the volcanoes. There is no doubt that consulting these images has increased the potential of our surveillance system. What we intend to bring out is that human footprint should be viewed and deciphered with utmost care.
When you view a thing from quite a distance, you might not get to know the minute details, but you get a knowhow of the complete picture. This helps in interpreting the data ensuring no misleading information is sent out like in 2003 when satellite images declared mass destruction in Iraq while it turned out to be not the case later.