In the big, scary abyss of space, it can get pretty lonely.
The planet Earth knows that all too well.
Venus, which is the closest other planet to Earth, is still millions and millions of kilometers away from the human homeworld, even when they're closer together in their orbits.
That's why it's good to have some closer friends around you, you know, to keep you company.
Thankfully, the Earth has satellites — and quite a lot of them.
When you think of a satellite, you're probably mainly thinking of human-made technology.
But NASA actually defines one as any moon, planet, or machine that orbits a star or another planet.
Not only does that mean that the Moon is a satellite of Earth, but also that the Earth is a satellite of the Sun.
These are both examples of natural satellites.
Of course, we also have artificial satellites that were put up there by you humans.
These officially became a thing around the middle of the 20th century with the Soviet Union's successful launch of Sputnik I.
Fast-forward to now and there are thousands of artificial satellites up there orbiting Earth.
And the things have gotten pretty darn impressive!
For example, they can take pictures of other planets and celestial bodies, or turn their eyes back on Earth to help predict weather or track storms and wildfires.
They can even measure atmospheric gases, like ozone and carbon dioxide.
And satellites can also play a role in allowing you to make phone calls and letting you watch your favorite TV shows.
But they can also take photos of other planets!
They are stuck watching their shows.
Not to mention how impressive the International Space Station is, which comes in at about the size of a football field and weighs about as much as a few hundred cars.
Ok, now we've enticed the space strongmen.
Put the thing down, ok?
You're gonna knock it out of orbit!
But it's not just big space stations that are great feats of humanity.
Going smaller is equally impressive.
Just like you've seen smaller and smaller technology down on Earth, the miniaturization of computers and hardware has made its way to satellites.
With NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative, a bunch of super small satellites are being put up into orbit.
Called CubeSats, these nanosatellites are roughly 10 by 10 by 10 centimeter cubes that tend to weight a little over a kilogram.
They allow you to test out new technologies — like the RainCube, a miniaturized precipitation-studying radar instrument — in the real-life harsh environment of space before being used in more advanced missions.
And if you want to see the view from space yourself, NASA's High Definition Earth Viewing, or HDEV, experiment became operational back in 2014.
This initiative put commercially available HD cameras on the exterior of the ISS so that they could stream live footage of Earth that you can view right from your computer.
Imagine going back in time and telling a group of people from the 1940's that all of this is going to be possible!
You get to experience all of this right now!
Oh man, satellites sure are pretty cool!
Now if we can just get them to shoot down space lasers for when those evil underground bugs attack.
If you wanna capture stunning photos of space, you need to send up a powerful satellite.
So do you have any space related space questions that you want to ask?
Let me know in the comment section below and we might turn your question into a future video!