The image of Earth taken from space is a twentieth century icon. Yet, many people question the space program as an expensive luxury.
Despite the cost, space-based instruments could save more money and resources than is spent. Remote sensing technology allows us to see the "big picture"
of what is taking place on the planet's surface. For example, scientists can estimate the extent of bush fires and the consequent damage. Likewise habitat
changes especially affecting Africa, such as desertification and deforestation, or river course changes, can be more readily followed than with ground-based systems. This in turn, for
example, allows resource managers to pinpoint areas where international assistance efforts would be best directed.