03 May 2012
While the idea of GEOINT centers around tracking assets on the ground from the skies, there is a new DIY movement where amateur astrophotographers are doing the opposite: tracking satellites as the orbit the globe. And, yes, this does include the tracking of spy satellites. These DIYers recently recorded the NRO’s Lacrosse 5 satellite doing a what Boing Boing calls a “disappearance trick,” where the satellite periodically vanishes for several seconds.
Astrophotographers basically use high-end consumer telescopes that are resting on motorized, programmable mounts that match Earth’s rotational speed to keep the scope pointed at stars and planets as they cross the sky.
And, the images captured are pretty cool. Check out this image of the Space Shuttle Atlantis docked at the International Space Station in 2010.
As the consumer telescopes and techniques continue to improve, Scientific American brings up the question about implications for national security. What do you think?