Surveillance images taken by spy planes and satellites such as these, have been used to sway public opinion ever since President John F. Kennedy declassified U-2 images of Russian nuclear missiles in Cuba four decades ago. Since then, the release of such photographs—sometimes officially sanctioned, sometimes not—has played a crucial role in geopolitics, never more intensely than in recent years. Here, examine a series of influential images released between 1962 and 2002. Note that successful identification of objects and activities in such images requires the trained eye of an expert and is often clinched with supplementary information, such as that collected by spies on the ground.
Photo and Image Credits
Photos: (Sudan, Cuba, Nicaragua, Black Sea, Afghanistan, Kosovo fires) ©U.S. Government; (Chernobyl) ©SPOT/EOSAT; (Kosovo) ©Agence France-Presse/CORBIS; (North Korea, U.S., Israel, China) ©Space Imaging—www.spaceimaging.com; (Quatar, Iraq) ©DigitalGlobe
2002 WGBH Educational Foundation/NOVA