The BBC reports on a new use for space hardware: training computers to count elephant populations from 370 miles overhead to keep them from hurtling into extinction:
The breakthrough could allow up to 5,000 sq km of elephant habitat to be surveyed on a single cloud-free day.
And all the laborious elephant counting is done via machine learning – a computer algorithm trained to identify elephants in a variety of backdrops.
“We just present examples to the algorithm and tell it, ‘This is an elephant, this is not an elephant,'”Dr Olga Isupova, from the University of Bath, said.
“By doing this, we can train the machine to recognise small details that we wouldn’t be able to pick up with the naked eye.”
Conservationists will have to pay for access to commercial satellites and the images they capture.
But this approach could vastly improve the monitoring of threatened elephant populations in habitats that span international borders, where it can be difficult to obtain permission for aircraft surveys.