You’ve seen them in films. But it’s not quite usual to be near one of them in order to check out if, regarding scale, they’re closer to a Rubik’s cube or a cruise ship. To get a sense of it: they can range from small size weighing a fraction of one kilo to large size weighing some six tons.
As a curiosity, if you think some are the size of one of the smallest Rubik’s cubes, you aren’t far wrong. In 2017, an 18-year-old Indian student created the world’s smallest and lightest satellite. It weighs only 64 grams. And it’s not at all a toy. This device is meant to measure the Earth’s acceleration, rotation and magnetosphere from space. So now you know: if this Indian student made it, you could become a space genius too some day!
Whether they’re bigger or smaller than you thought, the point is that these satellites are really useful. One of the most important European space programmes, Copernicus, flies a number of satellites, called Sentinels. Their main role is monitoring severe environmental issues from space. For instance, the causes and consequences of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods or droughts, may be analysed accurately when viewed from space and be promptly communicated to emergency management teams.