Curious about spy satellites? Now there’s an app for that!

To say there are a lot of interesting satellites orbiting the Earth with unknown missions, at least unknown to the public, belonging either to the US or other nations, is an understatement.  And when governments withhold the number of, ahem, “black” satellites orbiting the Earth as the US did last year, well, that just encourages the curious among us to do some digging.

But Space.com is reporting one company’s release of a software application (app for you hip iZombies) for the iPhone.  So, theoretically, life just got easier for the curious, but only if they have iPhones/iPads.  The app, named SpyMeSat, concentrates on declassified government imagery satellites and DigitalGlobe’s constellation.  So, some IMINT (imagery intelligence), but nothing new or unlawful then.  The black satellites are still black.

The app seems like it’s only offering information on low earth orbiting (LEO) satellites.  It is offering some token MASINT (Measurements and Signatures Intelligence) by offering up Canada’s RADARSAT-2, which uses synthetic aperture radar (SAR) to observe the goings-on on Earth.

Depending on the satellite payload sensor, MASINT requires very specific equipment, expertise, and technical knowledge to define and make sense of sensor information–that’s why the wiki states it is “technically derived intelligence.”  It’s not like taking a picture (although you could kind of argue digital images are a form of MASINT) or listening to analog transmissions on radio-waves.

And that is one key thing for all you NSA (National Security Agency) fans out there:  SpyMeSat doesn’t seem to track the SIGINT (signals intelligence) side of space.  So, there’s really no way to know, at least with this app, if there is a satellite overhead listening to any electronic conversation you might be making.  I guess it’s back to the internet for you (or not, if you’re really paranoid).

But Space.com’s article has more information for you about SpyMeSat and what it does, if you’re still interested.

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